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An Overview of Turkish Architecture, Oguz Ceylan, Mimar Sinan University, Department of Restoration


Turkish communities have displayed architectural products over many regions in the span of history from their appearance until today. Turkish communities displaying architectural works in lands extending from Central Asia to Balkans, have consciously led both nomadic and settled life styles at once before the pre-Islamic period. Altai, Sayan Mountains and Tien-Shen region in Central Asia are known as the regions to be densely populated by Turks during this time. Records show that Turkish communities accumulated in the Maveraunnehir region especially after the VI century. Archeological excavations are continued at the sites where Turkish communities settled and new finds are brought to light with every passing day.

Research on Turkish Architecture is generally carried out around the focal point of Anatolia's conquest in the eleventh century. During the pre-Anatolian era, one major development we come across is the spread of Islam among Turkish communities in the ninth century concurrently the transformation of the physical textures of cities. During this period three moslem Turkish States come into power and produce original architectural works.

Karakhanid Period Architecture (840-1212)
The typical features of the Karakhanid period architecture, examples of which are seen in the cities Bukhara, Samarkand and Merv, are the central court plans with iwan and use of domes and vault and the preference of brick and sundried brick as building materials. Important structures are the mosques of Hazara and Talhatan Baba, Bibi Hanim tomb and caravanserais of Ribat-i Melik and Daya Hatun.

Ghazhanid Period Architecture (926-1186)
The most important structure of the Ghazhanids who ruled the lands where Afghanistan lies today is the Lesger-i Bazar Palace complex. The central court and four iwan scheme is the plan dominating the structure. The Ghazhanids have continued the traditional Central Asian construction.

Great Seljuk Period Architecture (1037-1157)
Ruling the lands where Iran exists today the Seljuks left examples of architecture in cities such as Isfahan, Nishapur and Kum. The four iwan standard scheme was imposed especially on religious structures. Important structures are Isfehan Mescid-i Cumasi, Sultan Sencer Tomb, Nizamiye Medresse, Ribat-i Melik Caravanserai.

Turkish communities led to Anatolia by authorities on purpose during the Seljuk Period entered Anatolia at the same time with the waves of immigrants from Central Asia. Turkish communities who became more powerful after the 1071 Battle of Manzikert first settled in Konya region then around Iznik. Turks started to produce architectural works in Anatolia, the melting pot of many cultures from Hittites to Byzantines.

Anatolian Seljuks Period (1076-1308)
Anatolian Seljuks built mosques, medresses, caravanserais and vaults. Four iwan standard scheme dominates the plan in these buildings where cut stone is the main material. Important examples are: Konya Alaeddin Mosque, Divrigi Ulu Mosque and Group of Buildings, Huand Hatun Group of Buildings, Gomec Hatun Vault, Erzurum Twin Minaret Medresse, Sivas Gok Medresse, Sultan Inns.

During the couple of hundred years following the Anatolian Seljuks State, the period of Beylikler (1310-1400), states such as Karamanids, Germiyanogullari, Saruhanogullari, Candarogullari and Ottomans were established and other than mosques a few medresses were constructed. Some important structures are: Birgi Ulu Mosque, Manisa Ulu Mosque, Seljuk Isa Bey Mosque and Kasabakoy Mahmut Bey Mosque.

Ottoman Period (1299-1922)

Bursa Period (1299-1437)
In this period two main types of religious structure plans, Ulu mosque and Converted T plan mosques, are applied. Important structures are: Bursa Orhan Mosque, Bursa Hudavendigar Mosque, Iznik Green Mosque, Edirne Eski Mosque, Green Tomb, Bursa Emir Inn and Bursa Yildirim Drapery Market. Leading architects of the era are Haci bin Musa and Haci Ivaz.

Classical Period (1437-1703)
This is the era when one single and large inner space was being searched for religious architecture and a single dome was tried to cover this inner space. Monumentality is the major feature in architecture of this period.The major examples of structures of which many types appeared, are: Edirne Three Galleries (of a minaret) Mosque, Fatih Group of Buildings, Bayezid Group of Buildings, Sehzade Group of Buildings, Suleymaniye Group of buildings, Edirne Selimiye Mosque, Kanuni Tomb, Rustem Pasha medresse, Koprulu Library, Bayezid Bath, Mahmud Pasha Inn and Cevahir Drapery Market. Mimar Sinan, Mimar Davut and Mimar Kasim are the important arhitects of the time.

Tulip Period (1703-1757)
Born as a reaction against the forms of the classical period the tulip period gave structures such as Uskudar Yeni Valide Mosque, Nevsehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasha Medresse, Vefa Atif Efendi Library, Buyuk Yeni Inn and Ahmet III Fountain.

Baroque Period (1757-1808)
Circular, wavy and curved lines are predominant in the structures of this period. Major examples are Nur-u Osmaniye Mosque, Laleli Mosque, Fatih Tomb, Laleli Cukurcesme Inn, Birgi Cakiraga Mansion, Aynali Kavak Summerplace, Selimiye Barracks. Mimar Tahir is the important architect of the time.

Ampir Period (1808-1876)
Nusretiye Mosque, Ortakoy Mosque, Sultan Mahmut Tomb, Galata Lodge of Mevlevi Derviches, Dolmabahce Palace,Sadullah Pasha Waterside Residence, Kuleli Barracks are the important examples of this style developped parallel with the westernization process. Architects from the Balyan Family were the leading ones of the time.

Late Period (1876-1922)
Aksaray Valide Mosque, Sheikh Zafir Group of Buildings, Haydarpasha School of Medicine, Duyun-u Umumiye Building, Istanbul Title Deed Office, Large Postoffice Building, Laleli Harikzedegan Apartments are the important structures of this period when an eclectic style was dominant. R. D'Aronco, A. Vallaury are leading architects of the time.

Turkish Republic Architecture (1923-  )
Large scale architectural works were built especially in the new capital in this era when national consciousness was being created. During the First Period of National Architecture, structural elements of Seljuk and Ottoman architecture were used. Bostanci and Bebek Mosques, Vakif Inns, Laleli / Harikzadegan Apartments, Ankara Palas (sumptuous hotel), Big Postoffice, Cemil Topuzlu Villa are important structures of the time. Mimar Kemalettin, Mimar Vedat and Muzaffer Bey are the leading architects. Many foreign architects took part in in the architectural milieu of this period. G. Mongeri can be named as an example. Second Period of National Architecture coincides with the rise of National Socialism in the world which was at the time highly effective in our country. With a growing reaction against foreign architects, the reference points of this period are the proportion and the elements related to the Turkish Civilian Architecture. Istanbul Radio House, Istanbul Justice Palace, Tomb of Ataturk, Ankara Faculty of Science are the important structures of the period. P. Bonatz, S. Hakki Eldem and E. Onat are the leading architects.
Recommended Readings
Altinay A. R., Türk Mimarlari / Türkish Architects, Istanbul 1936
Arseven C.E., Turk Sanati Tarihi / History of Turkish Art, Istanbul 1954
Aslanapa O., Osmanli Devri  Mimarisi / Architecture of Ottoman Age, Istanbul 1986
Diez  E.,  Aslanapa  O., Türk Sanati / Turkish Art, Istanbul 1955
Eldem S. H., Türk Mimari Eserleri / Buildings of Turkish Architecture, Istanbul 1984
Goodwin G., A History of Ottoman Architecture, London 1978
Kuban, D., Türkiye Sanati Tarihi, Art History of Turkey, Istanbul 1973
Kuran A., Mimar Sinan/ Architect Sinan, Istanbul 1986
Sözen M., Topan M., 50 Yilin Türk Mimarisi / Architecture of 50 years old Turkish Republic, Istanbul 1973

Istanbul Technical University
Middle East Technical University
Mimar Sinan University
Yildiz Technical University

Special Center:
Meddiaccess : A multimedia lab. for Architecture, Turkish Architecture Image Archive



Source and related useful links:
  • The Architect Sinan
  •  http://sanat.bilkent.edu.tr/interactive.m2.org/Architecture/Architecture.html







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