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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Priyanka Popat: Travelling in Turkey

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    01 Sep

    My Gateway funding allowed me to travel to Bodrum in Turkey and research the town’s history.

    Though originally looking solely at Ottoman history, I visited a number of sites predating the Ottomans which provided context for my research. Perhaps the most interesting thing I experienced was a visit to the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, which resembled ruins as a result of numerous earthquakes. However it was interesting to visualise what it may have looked like before, as it was described as an extravagant temple built by the Greeks and considered by the Romans as one of the great wonders of the world. When comparing this to the Ottoman Empire, it is important to recognise how relations between Greeks and Turks changed.

    Visiting Bodrum Castle and its Museum of Underwater Archaeology was one of my favourite day experiences of the whole trip. The castle was probably the site of the Palace of Mausolos and similar volcanic stone and marble was used for its construction to the Mausoleum. I learned how the castle had come under attack with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, after the fall of Constantinople and it was even more surprising to see the real evidence of this destruction inside the castle. In the Museum, there were remains of the Bodrum-Yassiada shipwreck believed to have occurred during the rise of the Ottomans, and this was interestingly discovered by a sixteenth century four-real silver coin from Seville.

    I travelled with three other friends during my trip, and I found it exciting to explain the historical background of the items we saw to them. Not only did it help them understand the historical context of the Ottomans, but it allowed me to develop my interest in the things we were seeing. Finding accommodation wasn’t too difficult – there are plenty of budget hotels that were fairly central but we did have to be careful about the quality of the hotel and the area we were staying in.

    Overall, the funding for this trip allowed me to extend my interest for Turkish history, expanding beyond the period of the Ottomans and I was extremely grateful for both travel funds to give me this opportunity. I would advise anyone to apply if they have a specific interest in a country or a type of culture, as learning about something in books and seeing it in real life are two completely different experiences.


    Priyanka Popat