From Ancient Ruins to Modern Recreation


By Richard Slusser

Below the white houses of Bodrum lie the ruins of the ancient city known as Halicarnassus. Herodotus, the historian famous for his accounts of the wars between the Greeks and Persians was born here in 484 BC. Some believe that Halicarnassus dates back to about 1200 B.C.

During the Trojan War, the people of this area - Caria in classical antiquity - and their neighbors in Lycia, along the coast to the southeast, were on the losing side. That is according to Homer, who is believed to have been born in what today is western Turkey.

A century later, Halicarnassus was the site of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: The monumental tomb that Mausolus, the satrap of Caria from 377 to 352 B.C., had built for himself. That tomb - Mausoleum of Mausolus in todays terminology - about 140 feet high, but what remains today is a deep hole that can be reached on a short walk up a hillside from the harbor.

Apparently, it was the sculptures around the monument - and the marble chariot and four horses that stood atop it - that made it so spectacular for about 1,500 years. Some of the panels of sculpture may be in the British Museum; other materiaI from the toppled monument were apparently used by the Knights of St. John when they enhanced the castle in the harbor of Bodrum sometime after the Crusades brought them there in the early years of the 15th century.

Bodrum is the western end of what is promoted as the Turquoise Coast or the Turkish Riviera, which runs along the south of Turkey from the Aegean to the Mediterranean.

The Mausoleum of Mausolus also is a short walk from the Antique Theater Hotel which is new and modern, but is named for the ruins of a theater from antiquity across the highway. As for getting from downtown, taxis are expedient and not outrageous and can be called by the hotel.

Some of the best views of Bodrum and the castle are from the Hotel - and from the hillside swimming pool and its Sunset Bar. In this setting the hotel is a charmed spot.

The hotel has a cafe and the Antique Theater Restaurant, where the food is excellent indeed, sort of traditional Tukish cuisine with a 1990s flourish, with much emphasis on traditional.

The hotel, built on four levels, is as white as most of the houses of Bodrum. There are 19 double rooms and a two-bedroom suite with sitting room and fireplace; all are air-conditioned and have shower, toilet and telephone. For information, contact the Antique Theater Hotel, Kibris Sehitleri, Caddesi 169, Bodrum 48400, Turkey call 90 252-316-6053 or fax 90 252-316-0825.