Chris Drum Berkaya, editor of BodrumEcho, contributed to this article.
Bodrum’s Original Ghost Town
On the Bodrum peninsula, one of the favorite Sunday picnic or walking destinations is Sandıma. The 45-minute walk up from Yalıkavak village winds past a number of old, white, stone houses that stand abandoned on the rocky hillside overlooking the bay.
The village has a borderline eerie quality about it. The houses are generally old Bodrum-style stone houses bound by layers of whitewash. But among the abandoned houses, there is one solitary dwelling that is still occupied and openly welcomes visitors to the ghost village.
An Ethnic Escape and Artistic Haven
Erkoca, a sculptor, and his wife, Nurten Değirmeci, an artist, came from Istanbul to the village seven years ago to take up residence and make their studio and home in the village of Sandima, Yalikavak.
İsmail brings trays of small glasses of Turkish çay, sits in the sun with visitors who knock at the door of Nuriş Sanat Evi (Nuriş Art Gallery) and tells the story of the village.
Sandıma’s houses are actually clustered in two halves, divided by a quite deep creek bed, with a lovely short waterfall running in spring beside the highest houses. According to Erkoca, Sandıma was actually two villages and the higher western side of the stream was known as Gökçebelen.
A Brief History of Sandima, Yalikavak
Sandıma used to be at the crossroads of a network of ancient walking and stock paths that crisscrossed the peninsula before the age of the motorcar. During the tumultuous years of Greek, Roman and Ottoman rule, piracy in the Aegean was rampant, and local inhabitants often resided in twin villages; one seaside and the other in the hills, hidden from invading pirates. Sandima is such a village as it is not visible from the sea from most angles, protecting inhabitants from invaders. In more peaceful times, local inhabitants took to Sandima in the summer months for the cool breezes, and returned to Yalikavak’s shoreline for the winter months. In modern times, locals gradually abandoned Sandima with the lure of tourism along Yalikavak’s waterfront.
The Surroundings of Sandima, Yalikavak
One of the ancient paths leading out of Sandima crossed from the hilltop village of Geris, an area favored for larger luxury villas above Yalıkavak. That ridge-top path continues today over the hills to Yakaköy, Ortakent, Dağbelen, and eventually forks further onward to Gölköy/Türkbükkü. The entire area offers a labyrinth of valleys, crevices, plateaus and stunning views of Yalikavak bay and the exotic Palmarina, home to mega-yachts as well as fishing boats. The nearby Greek Islands of Kalymnos and Leros are stunning backdrops in the distance.
Investment Opportunities in Sandima, Turkey
There has been renewed interest by both Turkish and foreign investors in renovating some of the properties in Sandima; the caveat is that the structure of the building may be restored but not altered. As most of the houses are quite small, a unit of 2-3 adjacent buildings can serve as an ideal outdoor hillside summer retreat or artist studio.