Dotted around towns and villages, scattered on hilltops or by the roadside, you will see many domed, circular stone buildings and may wonder what they are.

They are water cisterns (sarnıç in Turkish). Did you know there are around 250 of them to be found in the Muğla province?

Water cistern (sarnıç) by the side of the road from Fethiye to Kayaköy
Water cistern (sarnıç) by the side of the road from Fethiye to Kayaköy

The cisterns

They were built during the Ottoman period to gather winter rainwater which was used for the fields and livestock during the summer months.  The rain water runs over the dome and in through the holes in the channel running around the outside. It then collects in a reservior inside.

Water runs down the dome and through holes in the channel
Water runs down the dome and through holes in the channel

They have a diameter of approximately 7 meters. The section that is above the ground is as tall as a typical one-story house, however the reservoir itself might be buried deep in the ground. A bucket on a rope is used to access the water.

As modern water delivery systems were developed, their use and importance diminished and they were left to fall into disrepair.

Falling into disrepair
Abandoned sarnıç in Üzümlü

Some are still in use for livestock water supply and storing animal feed.

Today many of them have been renovated, and some have been converted for other uses. One in Yalikavak, on the Bodrum Peninsula, has been converted to an art gallery.

Sarnıç Art Gallery -
Sarnıç Art Gallery -Yalikavak

Some just sit in isolated splendour – relics of a bygone era…

Sarnıç in Ovacık overlooking Babadağ- sunset
Sarnıç in Ovacık overlooking Babadağ – sunset

 

 

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