Sunday, July 12, 2015

From Window Shopping to one of the Greates Underwater Archaeology Museums in the World - Funfilled Bodrum Center

View of Bodrum from the Crusader Castle (Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum)

Bodrum is a peninsula lined with quaint bays on the coast of Turkey's Aegean shore. In the 1970s when people from the big cities like Istanbul or Ankara started to come here for summer vacations, they used to come to the center or the immediate periphery of Bodrum but these days people prefer the different bays like Yalikavak, Turgutreis, Gumusluk or Torba. However, the city center, which lacks decent beaches, is still a great place for shopping and entertainment.

The iconic windmills are decorated with the colors of the landscape
Tuesday is the day for Bodrum Pazar, which is supposed to be mainly for textiles, so I decided to brave the scorching heat to go into town and make a day-trip of it. The dolmus (minibus) I took into the city let us off at the bus depot, which was bordering the area where the bazaar was setup. Unfortunately, this market turned out to be a big disappointment, since it was too hot and stuffy to bear and all the vendors I was interested in told me they also came to the Yalikavak Pazar. I left the area immediately and started to walk towards the marina and the Bodrum castle by following the signs.

It would take probably about 15 minutes to get to the castle from the bus depot but I took my time, looking at souvenir shops, talking to the locals and taking lots of pictures.  Even if you don't buy anything, the shops are so colorful and fun that it becomes a very enjoyable way to pass the time.

The vine-covered walkway in the shopping arcades provide a cool respite from the summer heat

There are many great bays to swim near the Bodrum peninsula and the marina is the place to find just the right boat. It is possible to signup for a boat-trip of 20 or more people (depending on the size of the boat) or rent one for the day or even the week, privately.

The view from a mosque courtyard

 Once I reached the water, I turned left and waked towards the castle. The Bodrum Castle is a Crusader Castle that serves as the Underwater Archaeological Museum. Since I visited it many times including just last year, today all I planned to do was to sit and drink tea in its cool cafe surrounded by artifacts from antiquity.

There are several stalls that are situated along the walkway outside the walls of the castle. When I visited last year, I was in a hurry to get to the museum, so I couldn't stop and look at any of them.  There was a glassblower who made the prettiest beads right there. I was happy to see that he was still there. 

The glassblower made evil-eyes as well as glass jewelery
Natural Sponges for Sale
Miniature traditional Bodrum houses
Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum has a great bookshop and a shady cafe that I did not get a chance to sit and enjoy last year since the museum was closing when I was leaving. This time, I went to the bookstore and the cafe first.

Bodrum Castle Underwater Archaeology Museum Cafe
I bought John Freely's book The Western Shores of Turkey: Discovering the Aegean and Mediterranean Coasts in the bookstore and went to the cafe to enjoy a glass of Turkish tea with tost (Turkish grilled cheese). This cafe is really a haven from the heat and the hustle and bustle of the rest of Bodrum. Even though my plan was to just sit there briefly and then continue on to the Mausoleum I ended up going into the museum and staying for a couple of hours. The Mausoleum and the antique theater will be another excursion on another day.

Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum
Altar for Sacrificial Offering

Vessels found in the 11th century Serce Limani Glass Shipwreck
The minaret of the chapel-turned-mosque, courtyard of the Bodrum Castle
The chapel used by the Crusaders was turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest

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