Turkish National Culture

Turkish National Culture

Description of Turkish culture and its influences

Local culture, events and manifestations

Cultural events and manifestations in Hatay

Cultural local partners

Description and activities

National culture and cultural influences

Türkiye occupies a unique geographic position, lying partly in Asia and partly in Europe. Our country has a north-south extent that ranges from about 300 to 400 miles (480 to 640 km), and it stretches about 1,000 miles from west to east. It is bounded on the north by the Black Sea, on the northeast by Georgia and Armenia, on the east by Azerbaijan and Iran, on  the southeast by Iraq and Syria, on the southwest and west by the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea, and on the northwest by Greece and Bulgaria. The capital is Ankara, and its largest city and seaport is Istanbul. Türkiye is situated at the crossroads of the Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East, and eastern Mediterranean. It is among the larger countries of the region in terms of territory and population, and its land area is greater than that of any European state. Nearly all of the country is in Asia, comprising the peninsula of Asia Minor—also known as Anatolia (Anadolu)—and, in the east, part of a mountainous region sometimes known as the Armenian Highland. There remains Turkish Thrace (Trakya), which lies in the extreme southeastern part of Europe, a tiny remnant of an empire that once extended over much of the Balkans.

First impressions of Türkiye reveal a society much more European than one expects, but echoes of a strong, proud, and decidedly oriental heritage shine through in the arts, culture, music, and folklore. From the time the Turkish tribes spread through Anatolia in the 11th century until the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks had incorporated decorative and architectural styles from the Sassani (a pre-Islamic Persian dynasty), the Romans, the early Christians, the Byzantines, and Renaissance-era Europeans.

Rich Art History

Art History education in Türkiye gained importance at the beginning of the 20th century. In a short time, art history education was given importance in universities and secondary education institutions, but it was not enough. The development of art history as a branch of science in Türkiye took place in the Republican period. The cultural policies developed in the Republic of Türkiye and the cultural past of the societies and the awareness of existence have led to the emphasis on art history. In an effort to create a nation, the disciplines of art history and architectural history came to the fore as instrumental. A nation in the process of modernization; In order to develop the nationalist ideology, he needs to prove the existence of artistic products documenting its history, and for this, studies on art history have been started. When we look at the Ottoman Empire before the Republic, it is seen that the records kept for the purpose of documenting certain events of the time naturally reveal an understanding of art history. Keeping records of information such as the date of construction, the builder and the artist of the buildings, including at least the name of the artist in manuscripts or miniatures, documenting for whom and why they were built, served the purpose of art history and became a source for this discipline.

Byzantine art featured elaborate religious interiors and the use of Luxury materials such as gold and silver whereas Islamic art favoured plain items such as ceramics, woodcarvings, and inlay. Additionally, Islam prohibited the images of living creatures in art, so Turkish decorative arts were channelled into such alternative features as flowers, geometric forms, and Arabic script.

The Selçuks introduced the use of glazed bricks and tiles in the decoration of their mosques, and by the 16th century, the Ottomans had developed important centres of ceramic production in some cities. Spectacular uses of tile can be seen all over the country, in mosques, palaces, hamams (Turkish baths), and even private homes. The art of carpet weaving has a complex heritage that goes back for thousands and thousands of years. As tribes migrated and integrated, designs and symbols crossed over borders as well. The art of marbled paper is another traditional Anatolian art that flourished under the Ottomans. Known as ebru, the art of marbling calls for natural dyes and materials, and a precise hand to create a collection of spectacular, one-of-a-kind designs.

Turkish Decorative Art

Byzantine Art

Marble Art (Ebru)

Music & Dance

Different combinations of styles and genres have given rise to countless new sounds that, despite being modern, still sound unfamiliar to a Western ear untrained in Eastern modes. Folk music endures in the rural villages of Türkiye and is a regular feature at wedding celebrations, circumcision ceremonies, and as part of a bar or cafe’s line-up of live music. Turkish classical music has its origins in the Persian and Arabic traditions, and eventually, the music of the Mevlevi became a major source as well. Pop music took hold of Türkiye in the 1950s and 1960s, much as it swept the Western world. In the 1970s, as the rural population began to migrate to the cities in search of their fortunes, a widely disparaged form of music called arabesque swept the nation off its feet, with the sounds of unrequited love, sentimentality, and even fatalism. Arabesque was a fusion of the new pop, folk, and traditional music. Today, these both exotic and catchy phrases blare from every taxicab, long-distance bus, and disco. With colourful costumes and vibrant figures, folk dances in Türkiye are important components of people’s entertainment culture and assume an important role in preserving a heritage. Folk dance groups take the stage in almost every occasion, festivals. Halay, horon, zeybek, çiftetelli are essential dances of both marriage ceremonies and entertainment venues.

One of the main instruments of Turkish Folk Music is the Baǧlama. This stringed musical instrument has a long handle and is used with plectrum. It has originated from the lute in Asia and made its way to Anatolia. Another musical instrumentpecular to this region is tambourine (tef), can be also spelt as def in Turkish. It is madewith a leather cover that is stretched around a wooden frame and played with fingertips. Halay is performed widely as a traditional dance during events such as celebrations, weddings and festivals in the southern part of the country. Turkish oriental dancing is known as Çiftetelli is now a form of folk music, with names of songs that describe their local origins is also performed in this area.


Türkiye is a crossroads between Europe, Asia, and the Orient. This unique location combined with the migration of Turks from Central Asia to Europe has shaped the identity of its gastronomy over the centuries. Because of six centuries of Ottoman regional domination and the reciprocal influence between Türkiye and its neighbouring countries (Greece, Bulgaria, The Balkans, Irak, Syria Iran, Armenia…) is the reason why we find so many common dishes in those cuisines such as dolma, börek, kebab, mantı (Turkish ravioli), and so on. Nutritional styles are shaped according to the cultural-geographical-ecological-economical structure and historical process. When it comes to Turkish cuisine, the foods and beverages that feed the people living in Turkey, their preparation, cooking and preservation; The tools, equipment and techniques required for these processes, the manners of eating and all the practices and beliefs developed around the kitchen should be understood. The richness of variety in Turkish cuisine depends on many factors.

Turkish Cuisine, which consists of dishes prepared with cereals, various vegetables and some meat, soups, olive oil dishes and pastries, and dishes prepared with self-grown herbs; molasses, yogurt, bulgur etc. It has also revealed its own unique types of healthy food, such as eating and drinking styles, which contain flavors that differ from region to region, have a different meaning and even sanctity in special days, celebrations and ceremonies. Turkish Cuisine has many dishes and food types, as well as dishes that can serve as a source for healthy and balanced nutrition and vegetarian cuisine, as well as in terms of variety and suitability for the palate. Seafood is abundant and enjoyed in any season in the Western and Turkish Aegean cuisine. The cuisine of the Black Sea is also heavily based on sea products and finds its influence in the Balkans and Slavic cuisines. Anatolian and South East of Türkiye’s Cuisine is known for its kebabs (grilled meat in Turkish), its mezze, spices, and desserts including the famous baklava.

In short, the diversity in the products offered by the Central Asian and Anatolian lands, the interaction with many different cultures throughout a long historical process, the new tastes that developed in the palaces of empires such as the Seljuk and the Ottoman, played a role in the new structure of our culinary culture.


Traditional Foods