Turkey is an open-air museum of the world’s great architecture: Hellenic, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman.

Seljuk Turkish Architecture
The Seljuk Turks (1071-c. 1300) settled in Anatolia before the Ottomans. They arrived from Central Asia by way of Iran where they absorbed the great tradition of Persian architecture. They blended this with the Byzantine tradition they found in Anatolia, and using their own genius, produced an architecture both practical and beautiful, spare and clean but with some elements elaborately decorated.

Seljuk Turkish Caravanserais
In a bid to increase commerce through their empire, the Seljuks built networks of grand stone way-stations for camel caravans. Dozens of these beautiful hans still exist, having defied the ravages of the centuries.

Ottoman Turkish Architecture
Successors to both the Seljuks and the Byzantines, the Ottomans (1288-1923) built on both the Islamic and Byzantine Christian traditions to produce their own grand, harmonious style.


Turkish Architectural Culture

Turkish art begins with the establishment of the Seljûk Sultanate of Iconium in Asia Minor in the twelfth century. The mosques and khans erected in this period at Konieh (Iconium) and Sivas are all in ruins, but exhibit a splendid wealth of design in stone, borrowing largely but not wholly from Persian sources.

In 1299 the Ottoman Turks overran the Seljûk empire, already crushed by the Mongols, and established a new capital in Bithynia under Osman I . at Brusa, where they built many mosques and tombs, partly with the help of Persian artists. They had already for a century been occupying the fairest portions of the Byzantine empire when, in 1453, they became masters of Constantinople. Hagia Sophia was at once occupied as their chief mosque, and such of the other churches as were spared were divided between the victors and the vanquished. The conqueror, Mehmet II., at the same time set about the building of a new mosque, entrusting the design to a Byzantine, Christodoulos, whom he directed to reproduce, with some modifications, the design of the “Great Church”–Hagia Sophia.

During the classical period mosque plans changed to include inner and outer courtyards. The inner courtyard and the mosque were inseparable. The master architect of the classical period, Mimar Sinan, was born in 1492 in Kayseri and died in Istanbul in the year 1588. Sinan started a new era in world architecture, creating 334 buildings in various cities. Mimar Sinan’s first important work was the Şehzade Mosque completed in 1548. His second significant work was the Süleymaniye Mosque and the surrounding complex, built for Suleiman the Magnificent. The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne was built during the years 1568-74, when Sinan was in his prime as an architect. The Rüstempaşa, Mihriman Sultan, Ibrahimpasa Mosques and the Şehzade, Kanuni Sultan Süleyman, Roxelana and Selim II mausoleums are among Sinan’s most renowned works. Most classical period design used the Byzantine architecture of the neighboring Balkans as its base, and from there, ethnic elements were added creating a different architectural style.Examples of Ottoman architecture of the classical period, aside from Turkey, can also be seen in the Balkans, Hungary, Egypt, Tunisia and Algiers, where mosques, bridges, fountains and schools were built. During the reign of Ahmed III (1703–1730) and under the impetus of his grand vizier İbrahim Paşa, a period of peace ensued. Due to its relations with France, Ottoman architecture began to be influenced by the Baroque and Rococo styles that were popular in Europe. The Baroque style is noted as first being developed by Seljuk Turks, according to a number of academics.[6][7] Examples of the creation of this art form can be witnessed in Divriği hospital and mosque a UNESCO world heritage site, Sivas Çifteminare, Konya İnce Minare museum and many more. It is often called the Seljuk Baroque portal. From here it emerged again in Italy, and later grew in popularity among the Turks during the Ottoman era. Various visitors and envoys were sent to European cities, especially to Paris, to experience the contemporary European customs and life. The decorative elements of the European Baroque and Rococo influenced even the religious Ottoman architecture. On the other hand, Mellin, a French architect, was invited by a sister of Sultan Selim III to Istanbul and depicted the Bosphorus shores and the pleasure mansions (yalıs) placed next to the sea. During a thirty-year period known as the Tulip Period, all eyes were turned to the West, and instead of monumental and classical works, villas and pavilions were built around Istanbul. However, it was about this time when the construction on the Ishak Pasha Palace in Eastern Anatolia was going on, (1685–1784).

İn the late Ottoman Empire Löle Gizo Mimarbaşı contributed some important architecture in Mardin Cercıs Murat Konağı ,Şehidiye minaret,The P.T.T. building are some of his work. Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque, Sheikh Zafir Group of Buildings, Haydarpasha School of Medicine, Duyun-u Umumiye Building, Istanbul Title Deed Office, Large Postoffice Buildings, Laleli Harikzedegan Apartments are the important structures of this period when an eclectic style was dominant. Raimondo D’Aronco and Alexander Vallaury were the leading architects of this period in Istanbul. Apart from Vallaury and D’Aronco, the other leading architects who made important contributions to the late Ottoman architecture in Istanbul included the architects of the Armenian Balyan family, William James Smith, August Jachmund, Mimar Kemaleddin Bey, Vedat Tek and Giulio Mongeri.

In the 19th century the strengthened nationalist movements in Europe brought Ottoman Empire to its unavoidable end. As the European communites have broken away from the Empire one by one, the Ottoman intellectuals expecting remedy from Islamic solidarity, or Panislamism, turned their faces to East. Therefore, the 19th century and early 20th century were the period of Ottoman-Islam synthesis. However, after the Arabian countries’ break away from the Empire, it would be understood with deception that the Panislamism was not the remedy either. The following movement would be Panturkism and the remedy would be sought in “back to the origin”. In lieu of religious bounds, Nationalism was in the foreground from then on. Reflections and influences of all these social and political developments can be seen in the architectural movements of the time. .In the 1930’s some Turkish architects followed the contemporary International Style closely, and for about ten years constructed buildings which followed the Western trends of cubism and the use of reinforced concrete. Buildings of this period which deserve attention are the Ankara Exhibition Hall (Şevki Balmumcu, 1933), the Istanbul Üniversity Observatory (Arif Hikmet Holtay, 1934), the Sea-Pavilion at Florya (Seyfi Arkan, 1934), Taksim Municipal Refreshment Rooms and, in particular, the Kadıköy People’s Institute (Halkevi) (Rüknettin Güney, 1938) many people’s institue buildings as well as the Yalova Thermal Hotel (Sedad H. Eldem, 1935-38) In 1940 the number of Turkish architects was 150. During the 1950s Turkish Architecture came under the influence of Modern Architecture which was spreading through Europe and the USA at the time. Buildings of this period show a tendency towards rationalism. WW II was over and politically and socially Turkey was turning more and more towards the West. Typical buildings of this period are the Istanbul Municipality Headquarters (Nevzat Erol, competition, 1952),the Istanbul Hilton Hotel (SOM ve Sedad H. Eldem, 1953), Büyükada Anadolu Club (Turgut Cansever, Abdurrahman Hancı, 1953), Sakarya Government Building (Enis Kortan, Nişan Yaubyan, 1956), the Turkish Pavilion at the World Fair in Brussels (Muhlis Türkmen, Utarit Izgi, Hamdi Şensoy, Ilhan Türegün, 1958), the DSI Headquarters (Enver Tokay, Behruz Çinici, Teoman Doruk, 1959), the Tekel Headquarters in Istanbul (Ilhan Tayman, Yılmaz Sanlı, 1959), and the Kızılay-Emek skyscraper, Ankara(Enver Tokay, 1959) .

From the Seventies onwards examples of pluralism, affected by post modernism and foreign influences, become seen more often. Late Modernism and Post- Modernism which spread through the West in the Seventies, began to be accepted in Turkey between 1980 and 1990. Architects appeared who followed peak Western trends such as Late Modernism . Postmodernism , and Deconstructivism.

Folk Architecture

Local architecture is one of the most important sources of information to allow us to understand and explain the ideas, views, traditions, customs and belief systems, family and relationships and neighbourhood relations of a community.

Official and monumental buildings are considered independent of local architecture. However, such buildings as baths, fountains, coffee houses, etc. are also included within the framework of local architecture in Turkey.

Being strong and durable, functional, economical and aesthetic are the basic characteristics of the traditional Turkish house. The houses are built along the roads and on the edges of the squares in an order which reflects a strong respect for the neighbors. In most cases, the houses on both sides of the roads, which follow the configurations of the land, are separated with high walls and have overhanging sections on these walls, reaching towards the street.
Entrance to the house is generally through an inner door which opens onto the garden. When household chores permitted, the lady of the house, whose privacy is ensured with the high walls, would go upstairs and look around and chat with neighbors from the overhanging windows of the hall which face either the street or the garden. The large windows of the upper floors protected with bars or grills allowed this outlet.
Inside, the rooms were placed around a common space called sofa (hall), either on one or two sides or all around it. Sofas were in a sense interior court yards. It is an area which provides work space during the daily life as well as facilitating circulation among the rooms. They are opened to the outside sometimes completely on one side and sometimes on both sides.
The rooms were arranged to meet all the needs of their occupants. There, one could sit and rest, sleep, eat, worship, work and even take a bath. The recessed cupboards, open shelves, storage cupboards and places for washing lining the walls functioned as built in furniture. The divans placed in front of the windows were both seats and beds and left centers of the rooms free. Safranbolu displays its extremely rich historical and cultural heritage through 1008 architectural structures displaying a good example of Turkish architecture, all preserved in their original environment.Safranbolu was placed in the world Cultural Heritage list by UNESCO in appreciation of the successful efforts in the preservation of its heritage as a whole. Safranbolu has deserved its real name for its houses.
These houses are perfect examples of old civilian architecture, reflecting the Turkish social life of the 18th and 19th centuries. The size and the planning of the houses are deeply affected by the large size of the families, in other words a total members of a big family living together in one house. The impressive architecture of their roofs have led them to be called as “Houses with five façades”. The houses are two or three storied consisting of 6 to 9 rooms, each room is entirely detailed and have ample window space allowing plenty of light. The delicate woodwork and carved wall and ceiling decorations, the banisters indoor knobs etc. all come together to form an unmatched harmony of architectural aesthetics and Turkish art. Wood and stone were used in the Black Sea Region, while it was stone and wood according to the locale in the West and the South and combinations of mud brick and wood in the Center and the Eastern parts of the country. Eastern Black Sea villages nestle against the slopes of the valleys that run down to the sea from the mountain ranges parallel to the coast. Finding a patch of level ground in these villages is extremely difficult, and people are forced to climb up or downhill for all their activities. The building traditions and house-plans of the Eastern Black Sea take a variety of forms within the region, exhibiting yet other variations along the coast. In the Far East, for example, in Savsat township of Artvin province, the houses are made completely of wood. In Yusufeli on the other hand the side and back walls are of stone. In the township’s coastal sector we begin to find walls built by the ‘goz dolma’ technique. This technique, which is widespread along the coast of Rize, gives way to timber again as one travels inland and upward. The minute you enter Trabzon, the ‘goz dolma’ technique is replaced by the ‘muskali dolma’ style, consisting of amulet-like triangles that appear to be made of tiny cubes. (Both of the so-called ‘dolma’ styles are based on a building technique of ‘filling’ in timber frames with stones or other materials.) In the sparsely forested Arakli and Duzkoy valleys of Trabzon province, there are houses, albeit few in number, whose facades consist entirely of, stone walls. The Black Sea house’s underground level is a stable for the dairy animals. Above this is the owner’s living space. Known for their innate resourcefulness, natives of the Eastern Black Sea build their bedrooms over the stable to take advantage of the heat radiated by the animals on cold winter nights. On the ground floor, in the part of the house that rests against the hillside, they make use of an earthen floor. This section, called the ‘ashane’ ( kitchen), is where all the daily activities are carried out. An open fire burns in the center of this room, where food is cooked and consumed and guests are entertained.

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