Today a popular holiday resort with a yacht harbor, hillside villas and palm-lined streets, Bodrum was known as Hallicarnassos that, in the time of Mausollus, became one of the great cities of the Mediterranean.
Mausollus' father had ruled most of Caria and been recognized by the Persians as a satrap of the province. Though Mausollus continued to pay tribute to the Persians he has for practical purposes an independent ruler, controlling not only the hinterland but also most of the Greek cities of the coast together with neighboring island. The success of his policy depended on a fleet as well as on diplomacy and Hallicarnassos provided him with a good harbor as well as a worthy site for his capital, which then enjoyed a prosperity it had never know before.
In later ages the city's principal claim to fame was as the site of one the Seven Wonders of the World the magnificent sculptured tomb of Mausollus. But even this was shattered and forgotten when, in 1404, the Knights of St John began the construction of the almost impregnable Castle of St Peter to serve as an outpost of their headquarters at Rhodes. In 1522, when Hallicarnassos finally fell to the Turks along with Rhodes, it was the last place in Asia Minor under Christian sovereignty.
The Mausoleum was probably begun by Mausollus and completed by his wife and sister. The site was discovered in 1857 but the Knights, finding its ruins a convenient quarry, had stripped what remained of the superstructure and even removed most of the foundations. The monument consisted of three parts: a large rectangular base, a temple-like building with 36 lonic columns, and a pyramidal stepped roof crowned by a colossal marble chariot group.
Three continuous bands of frieze, representing a chariot race and battles between Greeks on the hand Amazons and Centaurs on the other, ran round the building. A wealth of other sculpture, including mounted figures and standing lions, was scattered over and around it.
The most famous sculptors of the day are said to have collaborated in the decoration and some pieces, in particular the chariot frieze and a colossal portrait of Mausollus, are outstanding.
At the other end of the time scale, the Castle of St Peter is a well-preserved example of 15th and early 16th century military architecture, not affected by subsequent restoration. It was built in stages, beginning apparently with the two square towers in the center, which together seem to have formed the keep.
The great tower at the southeast corner contains the refectory, on the walls of which hundreds of knights passed the time by scratching their names. It was probably built by the English knights of the Order, or at least paid for by English contributions, for the arms of Edward IV and of many English families are carved over the door.