LOADING...

























In the centre of Mugla Saburhane
2003 / April

When the sun rose from behind Mount Asar, the elderly woman had long since washed down the large pebble mosaic and slate paved courtyard of the old two-storey house with its wooden veranda, and was drinking her morning coffee on the balcony. Mustafa, a retired council worker, was seated before the front door waiting for the roofer to come and replace the broken tiles. Iskender, a folk dancer and keen amateur photographer, was walking with swift steps towards the Teachers Club, hoping to meet the professional photographer who was arriving in town that day. Metin Tanyel's coffee house was as yet completely empty. A white pigeon flew into the air from the garden of the house with wooden shutters, and landed on one of the chimneys of the house next door. These chimneys, unique to this region and each built from 52 red tiles, surmount the traditional whitewashed Mugla houses, some with one, others with two storeys. The neighbourhood of Saburhane was ready to welcome the new day. Crossing the market place created by covering over the river that runs through the town,

PAGE 1/6


























In the centre of Mugla Saburhane
2003 / April

and where Mugla's famous Thursday market is now held, the photographer and architect reached Saburhane Square. Before entering the side streets, they halted and looked up at the houses rising one above the other on the hillside beyond. The photographer was in a hurry because he wanted to get to work before the sun was too high in the sky. He already anticipated the treacherous surprises that light and shadow were preparing for him. The architect was inclined to take it more easily. He wanted to wander through the streets slowly, examining the houses, courtyards and pavements; touching the stone walls, wooden doors, and pebble mosaics, and feeling their warmth. These two special guests strolled towards Saburhane, the heart of Mugla, that modest capital of a province that is home to some of Turkey's most celebrated holiday resorts. Meanwhile the arasta near the old power station was coming to life as the barber, tailor, blacksmith, pack saddle maker and the owner of the music shop selling all kinds of instruments began to unlock their door.

PAGE 2/6


























In the centre of Mugla Saburhane
2003 / April
They all looked forward to Thursdays, because market day brought customers flocking into the town from far and wide. It was mostly on Thursdays that Ömer, who was actually a civil engineer, served stuffed breast of lamb with sour sauce and other local specialities in his restaurant. There are several theories about the origin of the name Saburhane. Some claim that it derives from sabırhane, or 'place of patience', after a monastery that used to stand here, others that it was named after a wise hodja who once lived in the neighbourhood. But Ertugrul Aladag, a local historian who has written a book about Muğla, says that it comes from the Arabic word sabur, meaning 'morning drink', since the neighbourhood used to be known for its taverns. The architect was saying, 'Stone is the main building material in the Mediterranean region, and wood in the Aegean. Here both are combined. The stone walls are plastered, and combined with the use of timber.'
PAGE 3/6


























In the centre of Mugla Saburhane
2003 / April
Before he could continue the photographer interrupted, exclaiming, 'Look at that double gate!' He was staring at a beautiful double gate in the walls around a house they were passing. 'They were made so large for pack animals to pass through.' Then the architect mused, 'What harmony there is between the Muslim houses set back behind their courtyards, and Christian houses whose windows overlook the street.' Muğla is in the region known in ancient times as Caria, which was praised so highly by Herodotus. The Egyptians came and went through this land, followed by the Persians, Macedonians, Pergamese, Romans, Byzantines, Abbasids, Seljuks and Ottomans. Until 1922 Turks and Greeks lived side by side in Saburhane, sharing many things together. The architect gave up on the photographer and turned down another street without looking back. He stopped in front of a fountain whose stone plaque bore the date 1911 and inscriptions in both Ottoman Turkish and Greek explaining that the fountain was a pious endowment of Haci Süleyman.
PAGE 4/6


























In the centre of Mugla Saburhane
2003 / April
The house beside it seemed to come straight out of the emotion-filled articles in the Galata Bulletin. The Galata group of architects studied the houses of Saburhane in 1994 and produced elevation drawings of fifty of them. One of these architects, Cengiz Bektas, wrote this poem: 'I wanted the light of the courtyard / To filter through the olives / The vine holds a pool of light from end to end / Cherries, pomegranates, quinces, figs. / In a tiny carpet / Gülcan's hundred thousand knots / Walls lime washed / The evening sky cupboard and ceiling / Saburhane in the centre of Mugla / Stones rain on my head.' Hafize ties her headscarf and opening the small door in the gate goes out. Mustafa gets up and goes to see how the roofer is getting on. Iskender the folkdancer waits in vain for the photographer at the Teachers Club. The coffee house owner takes a glass of fresh tea to the stranger who is muttering to himself and scribbling in a notebook.
PAGE 5/6


























In the centre of Mugla Saburhane
2003 / April

The white pigeon on the chimney flaps its wings and sails into the air, hoping to find the mate it lost years ago. It is the same every morning, at just this time.

* Ersin Toker is a freelance writer.

PAGE 6/6

























Previous Next