Traditional Turkish Houses and Their Iconic Status
Over the last twenty years, Turkey has reinvented its real estate market. Modern housing now caters for all aspects of a fast-paced, technology hooked lifestyle. One unexpected turn of events following this reinvention is that traditional Turkish houses have gained an iconic status both domestically and internationally.
With calls for their preservation and renovation, some historians worry their demise will remove traces of history. Some experts also want to keep them intact so future generations will remember their cultural heritage. A growing number of foreign buyers who dream of a small, renovation project that will eventually become their home also take a keen interest in their preservation, but what is so special about them?
Traditional Turkish Houses
Architectural styles of old Turkish residences are no longer used, so keeping remaining structures intact are the only way to see the architectural styles with our own eyes. In history, two driving factors influenced housing styles, and they were budget and practicality.
The budget was controlled by using materials in abundance. Hence most old Turkish dwellings were made from wood/stone or a combination of both. Perfect examples include old wooden homes of Istanbul, Yayla dwellings of the Black Sea Kackar mountains and Aegean and Mediterranean cottages.
Interior Design and Décor
It’s not just architecture that makes these houses so important. The interior décor and design tell a lot about how earlier generations lived. Even the layout and designing of kitchen areas gives excellent insight into the preparation and preferences of regional cuisines.
Handmade Turkish carpets and textiles feature prominently, and with two or more generations living in the same home, a large central communal room was of utmost importance. In rural areas, the bottom floor was a storage area for animals telling us a lot about how animal husbandry featured in day-to-day living.
Where to See Iconic Turkish Houses
Exterior features of these houses make them instantly recognisable. Built with stone on the bottom and wood on the top, large windows were a feature point to let in lots of natural daylight. More wealthy members of society built in a separate area for hosting men and women, but otherwise, the central room doubled up for many purposes.
Mattresses taken out of the cupboard at night were put away into the morning to turn the “bedroom” into a “sitting room” and so forth. Luckily, many places in Turkey still have this type of housing including Safranbolu, Amasya, Beypazari and the UNESCO World Heritage village of Cumalikizik. Otherwise, take a tour of Istanbul’s iconic wooden houses.
The central Anatolian region of Turkey called Cappadocia is quite unique in its style of housing. Throughout history, instead of crafting something from natural resources, they crafted into it. Hence they built homes into tufa rocks dotted over the surreal landscape.
Most areas of central Cappadocia are under protected status, and anyone buying a traditional cave house to restore must adhere to specific preservation guidelines. If you want to see inside a modern version, stay in a cave hotel, a common theme throughout the area.
Yayla Plateau Houses
Villages at higher altitudes in north-eastern Turkey have a unique housing style. In other areas of Turkey, residences were built close together, but in the Kackar mountains, they are scattered randomly over the hillsides. This is because a hilly terrain meant only a few areas were practical for a solid structure that withstood extreme winter weather.
Resourceful locals also built their bedrooms over the animal storage areas because the heat would rise. In higher plateaux, locals still use these houses and their remote locations means modern features like internet and telephone connections don’t exist.
Stone Cottages of the South and West
Old stone cottages feature in Aegean and Mediterranean coastal resorts, that were previously Greek populated before the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. As if to prove their rise to real estate fame, in places like Alacati, they sell for thousands of pounds before any renovation has taken place.
Touring Kayakoy ghost village in Fethiye gives a great insight into how these dwellings made up part of a larger community. These cottages differ from all other styles in Turkey because they typically feature a large courtyard and outdoor seating areas, a necessity during summer. (See examples of stone cottages for sale in Kayakoy, Fethiye.)
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