Today Bodrum is a picturesque yacht harbor filled with traditional wood-varnished sailboats, charming outdoor cafes and streets bursting with small shops selling carpets, leatherwear, jewelry and local artwork. In antiquity, it was the site of ancient Halicarnassus. Under King Mausolus, the city prospered, and in death, the king left the city its most enduring legacy, his majestic tomb, from which we derive the term "mausoleum." Only its massive foundations remain today but it was the largest tomb ever built by the Greeks and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Models on the site recreate its form for visitors. Alexander the Great attacked the city in 334 BC, leveling all but the Mausoleum, which was later destroyed by an earthquake.
When the Knights of St. John lost their castle in Smyrna in 1402, they came here. Finding the mausoleum in ruins, they used the stone to construct the Castle of St. Peter, which proudly stood sentinel to the city. Together with their fortifications on Kos and Rhodes, the Knights dominated the southeastern Aegean, running a hospital for passing pilgrims and ruling the seas as privateers in swift vessels. They remained until 1523, when Ottoman ruler, Suleyman the Magnificent, conquered Rhodes and the Knights' position became untenable. The castle still dominates the harbor and houses an archeological museum.