Bodrum’s 600-year-old Sandıma village abandoned to meet its fate

Bodrum’s 600-year-old Sandıma village abandoned to meet its fate

Bodrum’s 600-year-old Sandıma village abandoned to meet its fate

A centuries old village in a mountainous area, one kilometer away from the Geriş neighborhood in the western town of Bodrum, has become a victim of abandon. Calls have been made for the village to become a tourist attraction. 

The 600-year-old historical Sandıma village is the first settlement in the Yalıkavak neighborhood. It has been forgotten due to migration from the region. The village, which is home to stone houses, was connected to the Geriş neighborhood after the Metropolitan Act. 

The village has been declared an urban site by the Muğla Cultural and Natural Heritage Protection Board and has recently become a place for shepherds and junk collectors. 

Many old structures, including a fountain made by Ömer Lütfü Efedi, the 186th shaykh al-Islam in the Ottoman era, have been left to their fate like the village itself. 

Painter Nurten Erkoca and sculptor İsmail Erkoca are a couple who own property there and are the only ones known to live in the abandoned village. 

Geriş district governor Hayrullah Kayacan, former Bodrum Chamber of Architects chair Hamdi Erdoğan, tour guide Deniz Kıyanç and Yalıkavak residents Scottish tour guide Heater Reay Güler, have visited Sandıma. 

While examining the historical houses, which have turned into a dump, and schools that look like barns, the group was met with reaction by a shepherd couple living in one of the abandoned houses. Some property owners have reportedly complained to the police about the occupying of the abandoned houses, but as soon as security forces leave the area, these people return to their dwellings. 

“I came to Bodrum 15 years ago. I was married nine years ago and now I live here. Sandıma village is a place where hundreds of local and foreign tourists visit every year. However, as you can see, both the occupied houses and the occupants have turned these historical houses into dumps. This mess has been going on for about 1.5 years. We cannot bring our tourist guests here anymore,” said Heater Reay Güler, a mother of two. 

Kayacan said it was the region’s only Turkmen village from the Ottoman era. 

“There are about 80 houses. The Ottoman Empire’s 186th shaykh al-Islam Ömer Lütfü Efendi was born here and has left his traces here. Shepherds have been staying here for a long time. The village has almost become a dump. The occupants who have started using the houses do not let anyone in. Those who want to visit the historical settlement have been harassed. The village is an urban site. We are waiting for a project to be prepared by the Council of Monuments. Tours used to be organized here. Local and foreign tourists and nature photographers used to come. For the last two years, tourists have not entered the village because they have been harassed. Therefore, tours have been canceled. We want this historical village to be protected and organized as a place people can visit and learn about the city’s past. Now, Sandıma is in a very poor situation. Nowhere in the peninsula comes close to its historical beauty,” said the district. 

Erdoğan said the development plans that would give permission for the restorations would take many years to finish and the historical village and houses with Ottoman traces remained idle. 

“They have been occupied by shepherds and junk collectors. The houses have turned into a dump and schools have turned into barns. Ottoman works have been abandoned to meet their fate. We strongly request our ministry bring this project to life and save these houses. Sandıma is home to the oldest houses in Bodrum and reflects the history of Bodrum. The ministry and the state should protect this place. There is a signboard at the entrance to our neighborhood, which says, “Do not leave without seeing Sandıma.” But it is meaningless because people do not want to see the village. With the 600-year-old historical Sandıma restoration project, the village could gain something with tourism,” he said. 

“This place has been occupied. We have applied everywhere, including the municipality, district governorate and gendarmerie, for them to save the village from the occupants and the dump it has become. The government needs to show its authority here,” said Erkocan.