Bodrum Castle is is one of Bodrum’s most recognizable landmarks. The castle is also one of the world’s finest museums of underwater archeology housed in a superb 15th century castle built by the Knights of St. John of Rhodes. The world’s oldest known shipwreck exhibition is now open. This star attraction rates a ‘must see’ on everyone’s list.
The construction of the castle started in 1402 under the German knight-architect Heinrich Schlegelholt. Construction workers were guaranteed a reservation in Heaven by a papal decree of 1409. They used squared green volcanic stone, marble columns and reliefs from the nearby Mausoleum of Maussollos to fortify the castle.
For over a century St. Peter’s Castle remained the second most important castle of the Order. It served as a refuge for all Christians in Asia Minor.
The castle came under attack with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, first after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and again in 1480 by sultan Mehmed II. The attacks were repelled by the Knights.
In June 1522 the sultan attacked the Order’s headquarters in Rhodes from the Bay of Marmaris with 200,000 soldiers. The castle of Rhodes fell in December 1522. The terms of surrender included the handing over of the Knights’ fortresses in Kos and St Peter’s Castle in Bodrum.
After the surrender, the chapel was turned into a mosque and a minaret was added. This mosque was called the Süleymaniye Camii, as attested by a traveler Evliya Chelebi, who visited Bodrum in 1671. The minaret was destroyed on 26 May 1915 by rounds fired by a French warship during the World War I. It has been reconstructed in its original shape in 1997.
Today Bodrum Castle is open to the public and it houses Bodrum’s remarkable Museum of Underwater Archaeology and also hosts several Turkish cultural festivals throughout the year.