An impressive medieval castle built by the Knights of Rhodes guards the entrance to the dazzling blue bay of Bodrum, where the Aegean and the Mediterranean Seas meet. This charming town attracts a diverse population of vacationers who stroll along its long, palm-lined waterfront, while elegant yachts crowd the marina. Not far from town, you can swim in absolutely clear, tideless, warm seas. Underwater divers, especially, will want to explore the numerous reefs, caves and majestic rock formations. The waters offer up multicolored sponges of all shapes and sizes, and an immense variety of other aquatic life, including octopus. The reputation of Bodrum's boat yards dates back to ancient times. Today, craftsmen still build traditional boats: the tirhandil with a pointed bow and stern, and the gulette with a broad beam and rounded stern. The latter are especially used for excursions and pleasure trips, and in the annual October Bodrum Cup Race. Yacht Race, Bodrum The yearly throng of visitors has encouraged small entrepreneurs to make shopping in Bodrum a delight. Leather goods of all kinds, natural sponges and the local blue glass beads are among the bargains to be found in the friendly little shops along the narrow, white- walled streets. Charming boutiques offer kilims, carpets, sandals and embroidery as well as original fashions in soft cotton fabric. Bodrum has gained the reputation as the center of the Turkish art community with its lively, friendly and Bohemian atmosphere and many small galleries. This community has encouraged an informal day time life style and a nightlife full of excitement. The evenings in Bodrum are for sitting idly in one of the many restaurants, dining on fresh seafood and other Aegean specialties. Afterwards, daytime night clubs (some with cabaret) and superb discos keep you going until dawn. Bodrum, known in ancient times as Halicarnassus, was the birthplace of Heredotus and the site of the tomb of King Mausolus (4th century B.C.), which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the harbor, the Bodrum Castle, or the medieval castle of St. Peter, is a fine example of 15th-century Crusader architecture. It has been converted into the Museum of Underwater Archeology, with remains dating as far back as the Bronze Age. The stunning panoramic view from Goktepe, nearby, is much photographed by those who visit the second-century theater there. The beautiful Bodrum Peninsula suits holiday makers interested in a subdued and relaxing atmosphere. Enchanting villages, with guest-houses and small hotels on quiet bays, dot the peninsula. On the southern coast, Bardakci, Gumbet, Bitez, Aktur, Ortakent Yalisi, Karaincir, Bagla and Akyarlar have fine, sandy beaches (Bitez, Ortakent and Aktur are blue-flag beaches). Campers and windsurfers enjoy Gumbet, and at Bitez colorful sailboards weave skillfully among the masts of yachts in the bay. On shore you can enjoy quiet walks through the orange and tangerine groves bordering the beach. Ortakent has one of the longest stretches of sandy beach in the area and offers an ideal place for relaxing in solitude. One of the most beautiful beaches on the Bodrum peninsula is Karaincir, ideal for active days by the sea and relaxed evenings with local villagers. Finally, Akyarlar enjoys a well-deserved reputation for the fine, powdery sand of its beach. Turgutreis, Gumusluk and Yalikavak, all with excellent beaches, lie on the western side of the peninsula and are ideal for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Gumusluk Beach is a blue-flag beach. In Turgutreis, the birthplace of a great Turkish admiral for whom it is named, you will find a monument honoring him. In the ancient port of Myndos (Gumusluk) you can easily make many friends from among the hospitable and outgoing local populace. In Yalikavak, white- washed houses with cascading bougainvillaea line narrow streets. Small cafes and the occasional windmill make it a picturesque setting. The north coast of the peninsula Torba, Turkbuku, Golkoy and Gundogan - can be seen by road or, even better, hire a boat and crew to explore the quiet coves, citrus groves and wooded islands. Little windmills which are still used to grind grain crown the surrounding hills covered in olive trees. Torba, a modem village with holiday villas and a nice marina is located 8 km north of Bodrum. Golkoy and Turkbuku are small and simple fishing villages with a handful of taverns overlooking a lovely bay. After a boat trip to Karaada, half an hour from Bodrum, you can bathe in the grotto where warm mineral waters flowing out of the rocks are believed to beautify the complexion. The translucent and deep waters of the Gulf of Gokova, off the southern shore of the Bodrum peninsula vary from the darkest blue to the palest turquoise, and the coastline is thickly wooded in every hue of green. In the evening, the sea reflects the mountains silhouetted against the setting sun, and at night it shimmers with phosphorescence. You can take a yacht tour or hire a boat from Bodrum for a two, three or seven-day tour of the gulf. The Gulf of Gulluk, and harbor of the same name, lie north of the Bodrum peninsula on the Aegean. The mythological Dolphin Boy is said to have been born a little farther to the north at Kiyikislacik (lassos). South of Gulluk, Varvil, ancient Bargilya, sits at the end of a deep narrow inlet surrounded by hillsides covered in olive trees. Inland from Gulluk, is Milas, ancient Mylasa, known for its beautiful carpets - a century old tradition which continues today. The weavers rarely mind a visitor watching them at work. Plenty of old Turkish houses with carved timbers and latticed windows provide examples of the local architectural style. Gumuskesen, a memorial tomb, thought to be a small copy of the famous Halicarnassus Mausoleum, stands west of the city.