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Intro: Welcome to Istanbul
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TURKEY   >  BRIEF   >> Culturel Art


The lively Turkish folkmusic, which originated on the steppes of Asia, is in complete contrast to the refined Turkish classical music of the Ottoman court. Until recently, folkmusic was not written doen, and the traditions have been kept alive by the "asiklar" (troubadours). Distinct from folkmusic is Ottoman military music, now performed by the "mehter takimi" (Janissary Band) in Istanbul, which originated in Central Asia and is played with kettle drums, clarinets, cymbals and bells. The mystical music of the Whirling Dervishes (Mevleviler) is dominated by the haunting sound of the reed pipe or "ney" and can be heard in Konya during the mevlana Festival in December.

Each region in Turkey has its own special folkdance and costume and the best-known of these are listed below:
a) "Horon" - This Black Sea dance is performed by men only, dressed in black with silver trimmings. The dancers link arms and quiver to the vibrations of the "kemence" (a primitive kind of violin) .

b) "Kasik Oyunu" - The Spoon Dance is performed from Konya to Silifke and consists of gaily dressed male and female dancers"clicking" out the dance rhythm with a pair of wooden spoons im each hand

c) "Kilic Kalkan"- The Sword and Shield Dance of Bursa represents the Ottoman conquest of the city. It is performed by men only, dressed in early Ottoman battle dress, who dance to the sound of clashing swords and shields, without music.
d) "Zeybek" - In this Aegean dance, colorfully dressed male dancers called "efe" symbolize courage and heroism.

a) "Nasrettin Hoca" - A 13th century humorist and sage Aksehir. His witticisms are known throughout Turkey and are often used to make a point.

b) "Karagoz" - Another jester, said to have lived in Bursa in the 14th century and now immortalized as- a shadow puppet. Karagoz is a rough man of the people, who uses his ribald wit to get the better of his pompous friend, Hacivat. The puppets are made from gaily painted, translucent animal skin and are projected onto a white screen

c) "Yunus Emre"The 13th century folk philosopher-poet is one of Turkeys national treasures. His basic themes were universal love, friendship, brotherhood and divine justice. His simple and pure writing brings out a deep meaning for his readers and although he lived over 700 years ago, his work is still timely and though provoking.

d) "Koroglu" A 15th century folk poet. Koroglu was a role model for his contemporaries and a hero of his time. His adventures have been recounted for centuries with prestige and vigor and perheps now with more interest than ever. Korogli was one of the first people to pioneer the ideal of unconditional help for the poor and down-trodden. He was also a great champion against the confines of government control and harassment. 

a) "Yagli Gures"
- "Grease Wrestling" is the Turkish national sport and ever year, in July, wrestling championships are held in Kirkpinar, outside Edirne. The contest is made more difficult by the fact that the wrestlers smear themselves with oil.

b) "Cirit Oyunu"
- The "javelin game" of daredevil horsemanship is a sport where wooden javelins are thrown at horseman of opposing teams to gain points. The game is played mainly is Eastern Turkey. Also in Selcuk, in Aegean Region you can watch camel flights (in January), but it for for some reason weat her does not permit, dont despair, camel flights are held in many small towns throughout the springtime. At Artvin Kafkasor, a different type of bullflights is held (in June).

Hospitaly :
Hospitally is one of the cornerstones of the Turkish way of life. Following Koranic tenets and naturally friendly intincts, the Turk is a most gracious and generous host. Even the poorest peasant feels bound to honor his guest (misafir) in the best possible manner. Hospitally is taken to such lengths that a foreigner often feels he is suffering from an overdose of it after being piled with food and drinks for hours and being unable to refuse anything, lest he hurt his host's feelings. In addition to ensuring a guest's material well-being, the Turk makes every effort to converse, no matter what linguistic barriers might exist. While most middle-class urban-dwelling Turks speak at least one European language, even the uneducated bravely struggle to make themselves understood, with remarkable success.

Turkish coffee houses:
Even the smallest Turkish village has its coffee-house or "kahvehane" where men can talk, sip coffee and play the national game of backgammon (tavla). In Istanbul especially, men can still be seen smoking their hubble bubble pipes (nargile) in these coffee houses.

Turkish baths :
Oving to teh emphasis placed on cleanliness in Turkish society, there have been public bath-houses (hamam) in Turkey since medieval times. There are separate baths for men and women or when there is only one bath house in the town, different days or times of day are allocated for men and women. After entering the "hamam" and leaving one's clothes in a cubicle, one proceeds wrapped in a towel (pestemal) to the "gobek tasi", a large heated stone where one perspires and is rubbed doen by a bath attendant. If the heat proves too much, one can retire to a cooler room for a while. This method of bathing is most refreshing and many of the old marble baths are very interesting, architecturally.


Would someone come to Turkey just to eat out? Yes, they would. Turkish food is famous throughout the world. The painstaking preparation of simple, but fresh ingredients brings out the richness of their flavors in a way that never fails to delight. The range is enormous, from a number of soups to an astonising variety of meze (hors d'oeuvre), followed by meat and fish dishes. Then pause awhile to contemplate the famous Turkish sweets and pastries before finishing with a Turkish coffee. All Turkish food is orepared from fresh ingredients.
The country produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and being surrounded on three sides by sea, the range of fish to be found is also considerable.

Among alcoholic drinks are the light Turkish beer, excellent wines and the national drink "raki" (an anisette), which clouds when water is added, giving it the popular name of "lion's milk" . The drinking of raki is a rite in itself and it is traditionally accompanied by a variety of "meze" (hors d'ouvre). Along with world famous Turkish coffee. Whereever you go, coffee or tea will be offered to you. Bottled drinking water and mineral water are easily found everywhere. Tap water is drinkable but the taste is not good because it is chlorinated.

Especially in large cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, you can also find restaurants which feature Chineze, Russian, Japanese, Korean, French, Swiss, german and Italian cuisine

Shopping is one of the great pleasures of a trip to Turkey and the rich variety of Turkish crafts make it impossible to resist buying something. Alongside the most modern objects, traditional handicrafts from villages and provinces can be found. Practical things for the home and kitchen can be found, but alongside these are many decorative items, often in the traditional Turkish style. Most visitors to Turkey cannot resist buying at least one or two things. The most popular objects for the holidaymaker are, of course carpets; but the various leather and suede goods, copper and bronze wares, silver, ceramics, handicrafts, embroidery; and the famous Turkish meerschaum and onyx are on many people's lists.

In Turkey, suede and leather are particularly important, along with all kinds of clothes and other goods such as handsbags, belts. shoes, etc... at prices which suprise and please the visitor. In the large stores in main cities; dresses, trousers and coats made of extremely fine leather and suede, can be found. If you are looking for something a little more unusual, there is the (nargile) hubble-bubble pipe; or buy a backgammon set and learn the national Turkish game. Your only difficulty shopping in Turkey will be deciding what to choose from the many hundreds of tempting bargains.

There are boundless choices where nightlife in Turkey is concemed. In Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Mersin the State Symphoney Orchestra and State Opera and ballet offer the works of Turkish and foreign composers under the direction of world famous Turkish and guest foreign directors. Alongside the Turkish theatre, there are foreign theatrical groups which come to Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir from time to time. For a different view of nightlife in Turkey, there are nightsclubs and colorful shows. Whereever you are, you will be able to go into a nightclub and taste some Turkish food while enjoying yourself until morning. The discos in resort areas and large cities have the latest facilities.

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   Last update 21.December.2018 Thursday