Just beyond Bodrum Milta, above the “ancient” boatyard, at the foot of the “Kaplan Tepesi”, the“Tiger Castle” is a sea people’s cemetery. The most remarkable grave is the small Mausoleum of Captain Cafer Pasha, the Grand Admiral of the Ottoman Navy. He was a seaman “who knew every creek of the Mediterranean, fathom by fathom” although very close to the marina few seapeople visit this really well kept place nowadays.

Tomb and Graveyard

In this tomb, Mustafa Kemal Pasha of Kizilhisar, who played a crucial role in Ottoman naval history, and his son, Grand Admiral Kaptan-i Derya Cafer Pasha, are buried. According to the Book of the Mustafa Pasha Vakfiyesi, the Admiral’s Foundation, the tomb was built around 1727.

While the governor of Rhodes, in addition to his ship building and systematic naval defense against pirates, Mustafa Pasha of Kizilhisar also contributed to the civil rehabilitation of Bodrum by building mosques and schools. As he is cited to be the “late” Mustafa Pasha in an archive from 1741, he must have died before this date.

His son. Captain Cafer Pasha,  is described in Ottoman texts as a seaman who knew the Mediterranean sea “from end to end, fathom by fathom”. In 1770, he was appointed grand admiral for some three months. His last appointment was the governorship of Rhodes. Like his father, he contributed to the growth of Bodrum. Along with building galleons, he has a bath and a medrese attributed to his name. According to an archive note of 12th March, 1773. He too is cited to be “late”, thus he must have been deceased by that time. After the burial of Mustafa Pasha in his tomb, this area became a historically important cemetery. The oldest tombstone in the graveyard is that of a lady dating to 1751/2. Surrounding the tomb are the graves of Cafer’s brother Ahmet Pasha (dec.1787/8), who also served as the governor of Rhodes; cafer’s wife Mahbube hanim (dec. 1800/1) and Ahmet pasha’s wives, ladies Habibe and Nefise.

Information extracted from the tombstone inscriptions and the craftsmanship of carvings on the grave stones clearly indicates the elite character of the graveyard. This historic cemetery continued to be a burial place after 1928, the date of the latinisation of the Turkish alphabet. The tombstone inscriptions bear witness to the striking experimentation with the “new alphabet” in its earliest years.