|The Castle of the Hospitaller Knights of St. John
occupies the tip of the wedge-like peninsula at the
center of Bodrum. It is a splendid incarnation of
medieval western military architecture, built at a time
when the European Middle Ages were over, and castles of
this type were fast becoming objects of nostalgia. Its
massive conglomeration of courtyards, turrets, galleries
and sunken gardens is best explored in the stillness of
noon. Once the crowds have gone, the air is filled with
the hum of the bees and the screech of the cicadas.
Amateurs of heraldry may recognize the Plantagenet, d'Aubusson, Loredan and other prominent coats-of arms on the ramparts. Much to the delight of the tourist guides, each of the five turrets are called by the nationality of their original sponsors: the English, French, German, Italian and Spanish Towers. Parts of the walls are built of large slabs of greenish granite which the knights removed from the ruins of the Mausoleum. Other classical fragments are gathered for display in the inner courts. Peacocks strut among marble statues and mollusk-encrusted amphorae.
The collections of the Museum of Underwater Archeology are housed in the Castle of St. John. The museum, the most important of its kind in the world, is the brainchild of the collaborations of the Director Oguz Alpozen and Dr. George Bass, and his Institute of Nautical Archaeology, and contains treasures from a series of historic wrecks discovered along Turkey's southern shores. Mycenaean and Canaanite artifacts recovered from a l2th century B.C. wreck found off Cape Gelidonya (Antalya) in 1960 formed the original core of the museum. On display in the castle's Gothic Chapel is a full scale reconstruction of one third of an Eastern Roman wreck from the 7th century A.D. excavated by Dr. Bass. Finds from the world's oldest known shipwreck, a 14th century B.C. vessel excavated off Uluburun (Kas), are currently being prepared to be exhibited. The Italian Tower houses coins and jewelry from all periods. Most impressive of all is the Glass Hall containing a spectacular cargo of medieval glassware from an 11th century Islamic wreck.