Bodrum’s windmills

The evocative windmills that overlook Bodrum harbor. Photos by David Lansing.

It was hot yesterday. Somewhere in the mid-90s (or about 70 degrees celcius). And we’d had a long day. Lots of walking about: the harbor, the castle of St. Peter, the shopping district. By four o’clock, I was ready to head back to the hotel and either go for a swim or take a nap. Maybe both. But Sidar, my little Sancho Panza, had other ideas.

“Come on, guys, just one more stop. It will be worth it.”

“Where are you taking us?” I asked him.

“To the windmills. We must see them.”

Like I said, Sidar is a Turkish Sancho Panza.

The outdoor cafe next to the Bodrum windmills.

So up into the hills overlooking Bodrum we went, our taxi bumping over the dusty road. And what is waiting for us at the top of the hill? What looks like a barren dusty parking lot (and maybe it once was) that is now an odd little outdoor café with a dozen or so bent-wood chairs grouped around three or four tables that looks to have been made from scraps of lumber. There’s a little homemade hut, like an old fireworks stand, and an old guy sitting outside on a log smoking a cigarette and, when summoned, bringing beers to a young couple slouched on two of the chairs watching the gulets come in to Bodrum harbor at sunset.

Oh, and the ruins of several stone windmills. The windmills are derelict but evocative. Particularly near sunset. Sidar says they were built sometime in the mid-18th century and were used by the locals to grind flour until the 1970s.

There is a barbed wire fence around the windmills and signs to keep out, but the father of a family with two young kids simply holds up the barbed wire while his family slips inside. The boys, no more than nine or ten, grab stones and throw them at the hapless windmills.

“This first one doesn’t look too bad,” says Sidar, pointing at the windmill furthest out on the point. Indeed, it looks like it’s been recently cleaned and rehabilitated. Sidar says that the local council of monuments plans to restore all of the windmills. “But it will take some time. There is not much money.”

The goal is to give tourists another reason to visit Bodrum. But I don’t know. I kind of like the windmills the way they are now. A little sad and ruined. And I like the no-doubt illegal outdoor café in the parking lot. A place where you can get a cold Efes and watch the Turkish gulets going in and out of the harbor without worrying about someone trying to sell you tourist trinkets.

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  1. Dina’s avatar

    Forgive me for being an utter pain but because gulets are my livelihood, I wanted to correct the spelling :-)

  2. david’s avatar

    I’ve made the correction…thanks, Dina (and Dina knows what she’s talking about; she and her partner, Dave Stanley, run one of the most reputable “blue cruising” outfits out of Bodrum, Southern Cross Blue Cruising. You can check them out at

  3. Poliana’s avatar

    In 2008 I did the Greek Islands with a friend of mine and we did a week long . The leave from both Athens and Bodrum and it’s only 250€ for a 7 day cursie visiting 7 different islands. I mean, it was only about 250€ 4 years ago Anyway, it’s not any kind of luxury cursie, but still one of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken. I don’t know how much time or money you have, but thought it might be something for you to check out! Just make sure to visit a beach at all the islands! They’re all unbelievably unique and beautiful!

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