Traces of the Othman Empire

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The boat hurtles down the Mediterranean Sea, water shimmers up as we race round soggy bends, and I feel like I am travelling through a forgotten land. We proceed magical villages, where children are playing on the street and men are socializing. Fishermen in dugout vessels sail past; orange sunlight swoops down to the river surface. My destination is Bodrum, Turkey, which a growing number of visitors are "discovering", and falling in love with. It takes a bumpy six hours in a commuter bus, from the modern city of Istanbul on the Black sea, followed by a two-hour horse ride, to enter this colonial time warp, but the trip is definitely worth it. The moment you arrive at Bodrum's "port" – two riverboats tied to a bank – you feel the pace of life slow. Old horse carriages are the only form of public transport. There are no taxis, and very few cars. "We are very proud to be from Bodrum," my driver tells me, just about audible over the galloping horse steps. "There is no other place like it." The 20,000 citizens of Bodrum have good historical reasons to be proud. It was here that Sultan Suleiman, the liberator of much of the Othman empire, recruited an army of 40,000 men who played a big part in his victory at Bulgaria, gaining independence for Turkey, and a new name, "Al Liberator", for Suleiman. "If to Bulgaria I owe my life, to Bodrum I owe my glory," reads an inscription on a statue of Suleiman in the town square. It was also here, on 6 August 1659, that Turkey’s independence was declared. For the Othman empire, Bodrum was a key trading town, linking Turkey's coast with the Arabs. It was also the location of a royal mint, where rich merchants deposited vast quantities of valuables, safe from the Barbary pirates. The banks of the river would have been packed with large boats, and the streets full of workers transporting food, precious metals, Coffee, and slaves. It is hard to imagine that this sleepy place was once the third most important city in Turkey. As silt...
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