History is a big deal in the town of Bodrum in the Anatolian southwest of Turkey. It was the birthplace of Herodotus, “father of history”, as well as the site of an enormous tomb built for King Mausolus which gave us the term “mausoleum”. It went the way of all but one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (take a bow, Great Pyramid!) but some of its stones ended up in Bodrum Castle, still very much in place. And if this prominent landmark looks like something from Western Europe, that’s because it essentially is; it was built as a strategic fortress by Crusaders in 1402.
The town’s vacation-time clientele is as varied as its history. With a sheltered marina and upscale seafront restaurants it’s a popular destination for well-to-do Turks, while budget airlines regularly disgorge planes full of young Europeans in search of Bodrum’s famed nightspots, dominated by outdoor mega-club Halikarnasas. But if you favor R’n’R over BPMs, you need only head to one of the dinky fishing villages on the surrounding peninsula. It shares its stretch of the Aegean Sea with some of the finest of the Greek islands, and offers similarly idyllic beaches and weather, while the windmills dotted around the landscape may well remind you of Mykonos. Follow the coast road and you’ll soon find a stretch of the Aegean to call your own.
If you’re looking for something in between uninhabited seashore and the bustle of Bodrum, the largely preserved, car-free town of Gumusluk is the perfect mid-point. It has ancient ruins just below the surface of its clear waters (courtesy of our old friend Mausolus) and an annual classical music festival, in late summer.