Ancient treasures from the deep

We were absolutely shocked and horrified to see the level of devastation caused by the August forest fires as we sailed into the Cokertme area near Bodrum in Turkey.

We were shocked and horrified to see the level of devastation caused by the August forest fires

It seemed that every millimetre of the hills had been completely ravaged.

The hills had been completely ravaged by the forest fires

Considering the wholesale destruction it was an absolute miracle that this tiny little village had survived.

It was an a miracle that this tiny little village had survived

Once again we were left open mouthed at the scale of the job that faced the fire fighters and full of admiration that they managed to save the village in the face of such a maelstrom.

The fires came right up to the edge of the village

Apart from a walk round the village our one night stay was uneventful and we set off for Bodrum the next day

An ancient water cistern.
built during the Ottoman period,
used to gather winter rainwater and local spring water for use in the summer months.
Judging by the pump, this one is still used (the feet are Jonathan’s, he was having a “sticky beak“)
We were full of admiration that the fire fighters had managed to save the village

We had hoped to see carpet and Kilim stands that are usually found in the village but perhaps the lack of tourists due to Covid and then the fires on top of that explained their absence.

There were some nice beachside restaurants
One of the beach bars
A beautiful moon rises over Cokertme

It was exciting sailing into the port city of Bodrum and catching our first sight of its impressive 15th Century castle which dominates the whole landscape.

Our first sight of its impressive 15th Century castle which dominates Bodrum
The remains of eight windmills on the way into Bodrum

We really loved being able to anchor in the shadow of the castle and enjoyed the imposing view every time we were on deck.

We really loved being able to anchor in the shadow of the castle

Finding a place to leave our dinghies where we could disembark easily took a while but once we found somewhere we had fun exploring Bodrum with our travelling companions Sue and John on S/V Catabella.

A bronze sculpture close to where we parked the dinghies
One of the small laneways in Bodrum
Dining with a view

Although it is a big city, it has an intimate feel to it as there is a profusion of narrow pedestrian-only laneways full of all kinds of shops.

Bodrum is quite a big city
Although big, Bodrum has an intimate feel to it
Some of the laneways were colourfully decorated
More colour in this cake shop!

Tucked in between the shops there were some delightful traditional cottages and bougainvillea-covered small apartment buildings as well as cafes and small hotels.

Tucked in between the shops there were some delightful traditional cottages
Another of the small cottages found tucked between shops
This small hotel had a Parisian feel
One of the lovely little laneways
We loved the profusion of bougainvillea
A quiet corner
We weren’t able to find out what this ruined building used to be

The highlight (apart from the amazing waffles!) of our short stay was our day going round Bodrum castle and the fantastic underwater archaeological museum housed within the castle.

Going round Bodrum castle was a highlight of our stay
In Sue and John’s dinghy – on the way to dinner out. Photo credit Sue Done
Ooh those naughty waffles. This was a first for me and I have to admit it was delicious!
At the entrance to one part of the underwater archaeological museum

Built by the Knights of St John, the castle is a maze of passageways that twist and turn with doorways and lookout points in unexpected places.

The entrance to Bodrum castle
The castle is a maze of passageways that twist and turn
There are lots of lookouts
One of the many doorways
The path to the next level
Another doorway – this time into the garden

It has four towers – each built by people from different countries: England, France, Germany and Italy. Each tower was built in a different style – some square and some round.

One of the four towers – this one was French-made
One of the square towers

Another feature that intrigued us was the carved reliefs of coats of arms placed by the knights in recognition of donations and other contributions to the building of the castle. There are two hundred and forty-nine separate designs that still remain.

Another feature that intrigued us was the carved reliefs of coats of arms
There are two hundred and forty-nine separate designs that still remain
Ancient graffiti?

The garden was a beautiful oasis of green containing a collection of almost every plant and tree of the Mediterranean region.

The garden was a beautiful oasis of green
Sue having a rest in the garden

I also loved the funereal monuments that depicted the life led by the deceased person.

One of the funereal monuments that depicted the life led by the deceased person

The mosque in the centre of the castle garden was once a chapel but after the capture of the castle by the Ottomans in 1523 a minaret was added and the chapel converted.

The mosque was in the centre of the castle garden
The mosque was built as a chapel but was converted to a mosque after 1523

Inside the chapel there was a very serene atmosphere although I do admit to feeling less than serene when I realised that I was looking at an open tomb with 12 bodies stacked on top of each other. It is believed these bodies date from between the 12th to 14th Century AD.

The open tomb with 12 bodies stacked on top of each other

In the museum we were amazed by the treasures that had been retrieved from a total of nine excavated wrecks.

We were amazed by the treasures that had been retrieved from a total of nine excavated wrecks – this was a bronze statue of an African boy, possibly from the 3rd Century BC.
Votive lamps found intact in one of the wrecks
Who knew there were so many types of amphora?!

I was particularly captivated by the incredible glassware discovered in the late 1970s from the wreck of an 11th Century AD ship that had sank near Marmaris due to anchor failure.

The glass relics were captivating
Just look at those colours!

The glassware which the archeologists think came from Beirut was simply mesmerising.

Mesmerising glassware

Something else that really caught my eye was the broken glass that had been used as ballast – the ship carried three tons of glass – one tonne of broken vessels and two tonnes of raw glass.

Raw glass used for ballast

There was so much to take in that we vowed to return to look at all the treasures again. So if you’re in Turkey be sure to visit this wonderful museum to discover the ancient treasures of the deep.

Amphora from one of the wrecks
The remains of one of the wrecks
The castle at night Photo credit Sue Done