The Art And Melting Pot Of Cultures Culture In Turkey

by admin on June 27, 2014

The Turkish Empire evolved under the influence of the Armenian, Greek, Persian and the Arabic cultures, and, therefore, their arts, music and architecture has a great similarity to those found in these nations. The Ottoman Empire also adopted and absorbed cultures of the lands that they conquered; there is a strong influence of the Islamic society, its language and customs on Turkish art.

The Arabic and Persian culture seems to dominate the Turkish culture, but the Balkans, Jews, Armenians and Assyrians, who mixed freely with them and practiced their own cultures, further enriched this cauldron of cultures.

The Ottoman Architecture: 

The earliest evidence of the Turkish architecture can be found in Bursa and Edirne, in the 14th and 15th centuries. It developed from the earlier Seljuk architecture, and was heavily influenced by the Byzantine architecture, the Iranian and the Islamic ‘Mamluk’ culture, after Constantinople was won over by the Ottomans. For over 400 years architecture like the Byzantine Church of Hagia Sofia stood as a model for Mosques and other artifacts of the Turkish regime. Over time, the Turkish architecture synthesized with the Mediterranean and the Middle Eastern cultures.

The Turkish people by now had perfected the art of building massive domes, and vast inner spaces and one can see the equilibrium between the inner and the outer spaces, articulated lighting, and shadow play.

The Islamic religious architecture shows simple buildings covered with complex, intrinsic and extensive decorations; this was adapted into a more dynamic depiction of art, by the Turkish and it was evident in their vaults, domes and columns, etc.

The mosque architecture which bore the Arabic influences was transformed from being closely packed spaces to open, aesthetic and well balanced buildings, with elegance and beauty which emulated a heavenly serenity.

The Turkish Music:

Turkish classical music was developed in Istanbul and other major Ottoman cities. It was mostly religious music, developed in the palaces, Sufi lodges and the mosques of the empire. A solo singer performs the traditional music of turkey with a small instrumental band accompanying him. The music instruments were the ‘tambour’ or lute, the flute, fiddle, the ‘keman’ a violin like instrument, and the ‘kudum’ or drum.

The music is based on a system of scales called ‘makams,’ there are over 600 makams, out of which 119 makams are defined, but nowadays only 20 makams are used. In the Sufi style, each makam represents a spiritual or psychological state of mind. Certain makams, instrumentals or music pieces were used to cure certain medical conditions.


A ‘Hamparsum’ is a notation used to transcribe classical music, and has gradually found its way in the western music. Turkish classical music is taught in Istanbul’s Uskudar Musiki Cemiyeti. There are different forms of the classical Turkish music; the ‘Fasil,’ the ‘Pesrey,’ the ‘Saz Semaisi,’ ‘Taksim’, and the light classical song called ‘Sarki.’

The Art and Culture of Turkey is Timeless:

Turkey is a melting pot of cultures, arts and ideologies, and has evolved over the generations into a vibrant society, thanks to the visionary leadership and administration of Mustafa Kemal ‘Ataturk,’ who introduced bold reforms in an otherwise traditional society. Turkey is now poised at the confluence of technology and culture and stands before the world as a modern nation.

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