The Houses of Muğla
The houses in the city of Muğla are generally located on steep and rocky hills, facing the plain of the same name. The houses of Muğla are similar to those on the Karabağlar Plateau and Düğerek. The houses stand on narrow streets, hardly wide enough to let a car pass and are generally of two storeys and have a courtyard. Some have their semi-open area for sofas closed in though more recently built houses were constructed with no such open space. The houses are generally focused inwards, especially on the ground level, with almost no houses having windows facing the street. Instead there are many windows facing into the courtyard area. The eaves of the open and semi-open living areas of the houses are decorated. Since the front aspect of the building is determined by the courtyard areas, on the land where the houses are built a balance of sun and views are sought. Thus the houses are constructed on the upper corners of the land, closed to the north and open to the south. The plan of the houses varies depending on where the living area is and the rooms surrounding it and to where the staircase leading to the second floor is located. The staircases are made of wood and the area beneath them is used for storage. If the staircase is made symmetrical there are usually one or two rooms on each side. The width of the sofa area is in harmony with the width of the arms of the staircase that lead to it. The rooms are behind the sofa area and in a line with each other, each of them extending to the back wall of the house. All rooms open up directly to the sofa area. In this type of houses, the area under the staircase leading to sofas, as it is close to the garden, are used as toilets.
The houses are entered through a gate door called the “kuzulu kapı” (lamb door). The door is level with the height of the courtyard walls, and is in two halves, with most having a tin coating over the wood panels. The courtyards, which are in use for seven or eight months of the year, are built to harmonise with closed parts and semi-closed sofa areas of the houses. They are covered with flat stone and most of them have an interior garden with a pool. Trees are grown close to the walls.
The kitchen, cooking facilities, cellar or even the bath are usually located in either separate buildings or an extended part of the house attached to one wall. There are often clean water cisterns or wells either inside or outside this out building, which are generally made of stone or wood. For the roof a la Turca (Ottoman style) tiles are being used, while the chimneys that are such a characteristic of the houses of Muğla are also closed at the top with a unique hat shape made of a la Turca tiles.
The Houses of Bodrum
In Muğla you can see unique examples of the local architecture. These samples of construction are a heritage of thousands years of civilisation. They are protected to a great degree and set an example for building as the houses of the ancient city of Lelegs Müsgebi (Ortakent) have a direct link to the typical Bodrum houses of today.
The houses of Milas Çomakdağ, İkiztaş, Gökseki, Ula, Muğla, Katrancı-Yatağan, Düğerek-Muğla, and those designed by famed architect Nail Çakırhan in Akyaka are all unique architectural structures built to suit the climate and geography as a result of years of experience. Even the chimneys of the houses are surprising. The doors, the woodcraft and patterns add richness to the buildings. It is worth wandering in the centre of Muğla and the outlying towns for days if only to see these houses.
The nature of the settlements of those who immigrated to the Bodrum Peninsula is that they are detached squared buildings located on the slopes of hills facing east and south, are near spring waters, in small residential areas. (Kemal Aran, Rural Buildings in Anatolia.)
The houses of Müsgebi-Ortakent and Karakaya on the hill of Myndos have served as a model for current Bodrum houses.
The Houses of Müsgebi-Bodrum
The Müsgebi houses are on rocky hills stretching to the south amidst citrus fields. The houses are not affected by the strong winds blowing from the north in winter but their windows are open to the summer breeze coming from the plains. The Müsgebi-Bodrum houses have very thick stone walls, which are built to ward off the hot temperatures and cold winds. There are on sloping ground and have terraced areas with a view, are heated by fireplaces in the rooms, have a earth roof and an entrance from the kitchen. A thin cover of white soil prevents leaks from the roof, with the other soil beneath having been specially compressed. The courtyard is surrounded with fences and you get to the terrace from a staircase from the courtyard. In summer, the terrace is also used as a kitchen. On the top of the Müsgebi houses there is a windmill. There is a cistern into which water flows from the hills all year round, eliminating seasonal water shortages.
The Houses of Milas
The houses of Milas were built in the 19th and 20th centuries. Each house, small or large, has a courtyard, though which the building is entered. The courtyard doors opening onto the street are either below the houses or at their side. The houses are of two storeys and their second floor overhangs the street. The ground floor is used as a storage area or cellar. In those houses that have barns, the kitchen and toilets are located next to them. There are marble or wooden staircases that lead to the second floor from the courtyard.
In Milas, there is another type of house as well. These were built in the early Republican era, showing the influence of Europe and are general closed to the exterior. They also are twin storey buildings with a large salon on the upper floor that opens onto two other rooms. The Nedime Beler and Murat Menteşe houses are fine examples of this type of house.
Among the 18th century houses still in existence, the vineyard mansion of Sultan Abdülaziz is a typical example. It is built in the style of a square tower and has four storeys. The dividing sections have collapsed as they were made of wood.
The houses of Milas; Çomakdağ, Kızılağaç, İkiztaş
The houses in Çomakdağ, Kızılağaç, İkiztaş, Gökseki, Sarıkaya are located in mountainous rural areas of Milas. They are sited on rocky mountains and roughed sloped terraced terrain. These are of a different type of construction. The most developed examples of these buildings are in Kızılağaç and Çomakdağ. The Çomakdağ houses are on a rocky hill that is surrounded by olive trees.
The houses in Gökseki are on hills separated by two valleys in the Menteşe Mountains. The ground is rocky and there are stairs that open onto the courtyards of the houses. The main characteristics of the houses in Kızılağaç-Çomakdağ are that they have thick stone walls, windows facing the view, an staircase to get into the house, an overhanging room a with windows on both sides and a fireplace, an earthen roof and, a most important feature, the use of carved wooden decoration. You enter the houses from a covered entrance into open “living” area. In one part of the living section there is a covered area surrounded with sofas and open to the breeze. This wooden part, as well as controlling the path leading to the houses, it is also a place where the women of the house mostly spend their time in the summer months.
The bedding of the household is stored in a special area, valuables are kept in chests, the kitchen utensils on shelves above the cooking range, the dried foods and wheat are kept in the living section throughout the year. Meals are eaten near the food preparation area on a table cloth covered low round table floor, beds are laid on the wooden floor and the bathroom is in a separate closet next to the bedding storage area. The rugs and handmade cushions made by the Çomakdağ women, called Cicim, are everywhere in the house. Another differentiating factor of these houses is the carved wooden columns and beams and their decorated chimneys.
The houses of Kantrancı-Yatağan
The houses of Kantrancı are of two storeys, with thick walls, have a veranda and colonnaded square rooms, an external staircase, with an abundance of carved wood decorations, a fireplace that extends to the exterior and cellars downstairs. In the front rooms there is the welcoming area, know as the selamlık, and cupboards. The houses date from Ottoman times and their chimneys are in the same style as those of Muğla houses. There are no major differences between houses of Ula and Muğla with their double room and sofa area plans. But since the houses in Ula are built in a flat area they are more impressive when viewing the four corners of the house. For example, at the back and sides of Muğla houses there are no wooden eaves. Instead they have thin stone eaves called gumile. However, in the houses of Ula, with their four full sides, there are wide wooden eaves. Also Ula houses have more fireplaces sticking out of the exterior since the houses are made of brick. In Ula the buildings, especially those built after 1920s, combine the traditional local architecture with that of the islands and are more impressive free standing buildings. However, between these buildings it is still possible to see rare double storied houses, similar in style to those of Muğla, with and open sofa and arches, most of which are falling down.
The Houses of Ula
The Ula houses generally of one storey. The gardens of the houses are large enough to grow vegetables. These one-storey buildings have full open sofas, are fifty centimetres or a metre above ground level to prevent water flowing in and are based on two-room plans (similar to the high plateau houses of Muğla). The Ula town structure is sadly deteriorating. However, the creators of the Ula houses continue doing their job. The alaturca tiles are still being made in kilns. In addition, the blacksmiths who make the traditional metal work used in the houses are still active. With many of the wooden Ula houses being abandoned for tasteless concrete modern buildings, Ula-born architect Nail Çakırhan built himself a Ula house in Akyaka, adding his own interpretation and tastes of the original Ula house model. This house gained recognition and won the Ağa Han Architecture Award. Starting with friends, then a circle of hotels and holiday villages began to adapt this style in their building through Nail Çakırhan or other architects.
Today in Akyaka, at the side of Gökova, this style is dominant in almost all houses. Thus the Ula traditional architecture, thanks to Nail Çakırhan, found a new life. Ula locals were reminded of their old houses they had previously neglected and started to restore, renew and even re-build them. The most important characteristics of the Ula houses are the woodwork on the cupboard doors and the carved and crafted wooden ceilings.