|SETTLEMENT and OLD ARCHITECTURAL|
Archaeological research tells us that the tradition of having a second house up on a plateau,
in addition to the main house on the plain or on the seaside, has existed since ancient
times. In the Abanoz, Güğül Tepesi, Demiroluk, Şıhardıcı, Domuz Beleni and Çandır
plateaux, there are signs of settlements going as far back as Roman times.
It is known that when the Turks first came to this area, their main livelihood was keeping
herds and they had a nomadic life style. They spent the summers on high plateaux and
towards winter they descended to the plains. Later they stopped using tents and settled in
houses with steep roofs, called “sayvant”. Nowadays they live mainly in concrete buildings.
The Yörük tribes spent the winter in villages like Gerce, Karalar and Güneybahşiş, and in
mid March went up to the Anamur plateaux or to the Barcın Plateau on the border with
Their houses were small and simple and occupied an area that varied between 15 and 20
square metres, according to the number of people in the household. During the 4-6
months of summer heat the people lived in these small houses (evcik). The houses would
be used again during the following years. There were houses in the plains around the fields
and orchards, with roofs made of reeds (saz) and were called saz evcik. The houses on the
plateaux were called pür evcik.
The richer people lived in houses called sayvant when they went up to the plateau. The
sayvant were made of black limestone, mud mortar and wooden horizontal beams that in
massive buildings extended all along the floor and distributed the weight over a greater
area. The roofs of the sayvant were covered with wooden beams and juniper bark.
Nowadays, as the roofs need repairing the juniper bark is substituted with zinc sheets.
Since the building of roads leading to the plateaux and suitable for motorised vehicles, the
usage of concrete and bricks has increased.
Buildings like the evcik and the sayvant have been forgotten. However there are a few
surviving examples in the plateau settlements.
The houses in the coastal settlements are of three different types, according to the
economic situation of the families living in them.
The rich people live in villas (köşk) with two storeys and many rooms, the middle class
farmers and shopkeepers live in single storied houses with many rooms, and the poorer
people live in mud roofed houses with a single room and kitchen.
There are almost no houses without a garden in Anamur and in the surrounding areas. The
gardens are also a space for daily life.
The ground floors are for the animals and their feed, while the first and second storeys are
reserved for domestic work, cooking, sleeping and social activities. The ground floor would
face the road, while the living area would be set on a south-north axis or with the main
rooms facing the best view.
Characteristics of the richer houses
Ground floor: In addition to the main door, this floor has two other doors, one for service
purposes and one for the guests. In front of the doors there is a flagstone covered space.
These spaces were used to load and unload the camels, horses, mules and donkeys. Access
to the service hall is through the garden door. In this section there are storage facilities
and the pantry. The main door and the guest door face the road. The main door leads to
First floor: This floor contains a large hall, the rooms, the kitchen, the toilet and bath, and
is the most used area of the house. The doors of the rooms all face the large hall. The
windows all have a smaller window over them. The fireplace in each room ensures the
heating during the winter and the ventilation during the summer.
Each room can be used independently for varied purposes like sitting, sleeping, dining,
bathing and working.
Second floor: The best room of this storey is called köşk. It is one of the most original
characteristics of Anamur houses. This room would typically be the highest room in the
house and would be encircled by a covered balcony. The windows would be set at a height
permitting a sitting person to enjoy the view. Here also each window would have a smaller
window over it.
The köşk would be covered with roof tiles. The first floor would be covered with pressed
mud, over a wooden covering set on thick round or rectangular poles. This kind of roof is
called dambaş. The mud on the roof would be pressed with a cylinder called yuvak, cut out
of ancient marble columns, to prevent the rainwater from seeping through.
The roof is used for various purposes like the drying of fruit and vegetables, and also as
sleeping quarters during hot summer nights.
Houses with a single room, used by poor people: These houses with a single room and
kitchen have all a T or L shape. If the need arises, new rooms can be added. If a room is
added on the roof, a large terrace is formed. In this way the result is a single storied house
with external staircase and mud terrace.
Houses resisting the passage of time
Even though some houses have succumbed to the passing of time, there are well kept old
houses also in our time. One of the most interesting characteristics of these houses is the
variety seen in its chimneys. Some have the shape of a cylinder, some have a square base,
while some others have conical coverings.
Even though it is deteriorating, the Hacı Ali Bey Mansion is one of the best specimens of
this type of houses.
Houses of Tarsus
In Tarsus there are many masterpieces typical of Turkish-Islamic architecture, like mosques,
medreses (theological schools), Turkish baths and mausolea, but its old residential buildings
are also worth a visit. Many of the old Greek and Muslim houses are still standing and they
are all located in the same neighbourhood.
For those of us used to the concrete towers of the big urban centres, these houses are a
The traditional houses of Tarsus have all been built with local materials and by local
Most of the old houses are of the 19th century, with some having been built during the
early 20th century. As a result of the development of production and trading activities
based on agriculture during the 19th century, the city saw its wealth increase, and this
affluence is reflected in its houses.