Castle of St. Peter and Berk Balik, Bodrum, Turkey

Castle of St. Peter

In between our stops in Kusadasi and Mykonos on our Royal Caribbean cruise last summer, we paid a visit to Bodrum, Turkey.  Our day began with the Castle of St. Peter and its intriguing Museum of Underwater Archeology and finished with lunch at the seafood restaurant Berk Balik.

The Castle of St. Peter is a sprawling complex of ramps and levels and buildings and towers all contained within the massive walls of a 15-century fortress.  It was originally built by the Knights Hospitaller, one of the most famous medieval Western Christian military orders.  Since there were knights of many different ethnicities within the Hospitallers, the Castle has towers built to accommodate their various cultures.  We visited the English Tower, for example, which is quite striking with its hanging banners and armor and large dining table, looking like a feast might break out at any moment.

A huge ancient anchor

A pile of ancient cannon balls

English Tower, Castle of St. Peter

The Castle is also home to the Museum of Underwater Archeology, one of the most notable museums of its kind in the world.  Several buildings are dedicated to housing parts of the museum and its unique collections.  For example, a 15th century chapel which became a mosque after the Ottoman conquest now houses a replica of a late Roman ship.

Chapel/mosque, now part of the museum

Our favorite part of the museum was the Glass Hall, which is filled with glassware recovered from sunken ships. The room is kept dark – there is even a drape over the door of the small building to keep out all light – while beneath each goblet and bottle is a light illuminating the greens and blues and yellows of the glass.  Goblets, bottles and flasks of ancient design were delightful, but perhaps most fascinating were the ingots of glass from 1400 B.C.

Glass treasures in the Underwater Archeology Museum

Ingot of glass from 1400 B.C.

At the uppermost level of the Castle were the aforementioned towers as well as many other turrets and ramparts running in every direction.  After we had explored much of this and gotten myriad views of Bodrum, we felt ready to take a break.  So we headed back a couple levels to the Castle’s café and had some cold beverages in the shade, all while being entertained by the café’s denizens, a large rooster and a proud peacock.

Tower of the Castle of St. Peter

Gate set into the wall of Castle of St. Peter

Bodrum bay and marina from the Castle of St. Peter

Peacock at the Castle of St. Peter

We explored the Castle a bit more once we felt refreshed, making sure we saw all we wished to see, and then it was time for lunch.  Berk Balik came with high recommendations, so after getting some directions, we struck out toward the restaurant.  Little did I know that it was such a long walk from the Castle, though!  I felt bad making my mother-in-law walk that far, but God bless her, she was a good sport about it.

Once we got there, Berk Balik wasn’t half bad. The owner, an older man with a big gut wearing just a pair of speedos – a real character – got us started on our lunch.  He brought us menus, and we pointed at things, and he brought us drinks.

Then a younger guy took over and we saw the owner go riding off on a bicycle, still just wearing speedos and flipflops.  Unreal.  Both the owner and the other waiter looked at the piece of paper describing my dairy allergy in Turkish and seemed to understand it, but they didn’t have any recommendations.  It’s possible that many of the dishes on the menu were dairy free, but there was no way for us to have a detailed conversation about it.  So I stuck with something pretty basic: grilled Calamari.  Meanwhile, my wife and her mom also stayed with basics, and ordered shrimp.

Berk Balik’s meager fare filled us up for the time being, and we headed back to our cruise ship, knowing that, if lunch had been something less than sumptuous, dinner on the cruise ship would more than make up for it.

Castle of St. Peter, Bodrum

Bodrum Bay from the Castle of St. Peter

About Karl Peterson

Karl Peterson is an avid traveler, passionate about food and food-related entertainment, completely allergic to dairy. He is founder, owner and principle contributor to “The Dairy Free Traveler” blog. The Dairy Free Traveler perfectly dovetails two of his greatest areas of interest: traveling near and far, and searching for great cuisine (especially dairy free!)

The Dairy Free Traveler publishes original material about the dairy free lifestyle, eating the best food in the most interesting destinations around the world. Karl’s tours take him from thriving New York City, to exotic Marrakesh, to elegant Paris bistros — (yes! even Parisians have gotten on the dairy free bandwagon.)

The Dairy Free Traveler himself also engages with independent dairy free food producers, highlighting new dairy free product launches and events that support dairy free entrepreneurs.

Peterson is among the top 7 most widely read TripAdvisor reviewers in New York City and is repeatedly cited as a Top Contributor at His reviews have garnered more than 542,000 readers — half in the U.S., and half among the many countries he has visited around the world.

Beyond writing this blog, Peterson is a published author, with contributions to “Savoring Gotham” edited by Andrew F. Smith (published 2015 by Oxford University) and the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Cheese (a bit ironic, yes, but a professional is often asked to stretch beyond their comfort zone!).

This entry was posted in Bodrum, Cafes, Cruises, Dairy Free, Lunch, Museums, Restaurants, Seafood, Travel, Turkey and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Castle of St. Peter and Berk Balik, Bodrum, Turkey

  1. Roving Jay says:

    You didn’t sound enamoured with Berk Balik. But it’s one of my favourite places to eat in Bodrum. It’s a great alternative to all of the touristy places that line the harbour.

    • Karl Peterson says:

      Your review of Berk Balik on TripAdvisor was one of the things that inspired us to try eating there. If we hadn’t been so hot and tired after our day at the Castle, maybe we would’ve been up for enjoying the unique Berk Balik experience.

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