Conical domed dwellings house architectural wonders
ŞANLIURFA – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotosWhen you live in a place where the mercury can sometimes push 45 degrees during the summer, it behooves one to find a way to keep your dwellings cool. The residents of Harran, on the border with Syria, managed to do so long before the invention of air conditioning, constructing conical abodes on the baking plain that succeeded in keeping residents cool during the hotter summer months.
“The most important reason why these unique houses were preferred in the past is that it is excessively hot in summer. This architecture style keeps the houses cool in summer and prevents cold in the winter,” said Mehmet Önal, a professor who has been leading excavations in Harran, whose history dates back to the earliest recesses of human existence.
“Twenty rooms in a house can be heated with one stove in a room. Nobody lives in these houses now. People prefer concrete structures but they are important elements of our cultural heritage. Tourists come to the district to see these houses. We need to protect this unique architecture,” Önal said.
The unique conical domed houses, which were built on a cone- or square-shaped structure with a superposition technique, are symbols of the district. Each dome stood for a room in the house and symbolized the wealth of the people that used to live in the household.
Rose oil, earth and egg yolk were used in the mortar of the houses, which are cool in summer and hot in winter thanks to their architectural structure and materials. The five-meter-high houses were built with bricks and become narrower to the top. The exterior of the houses were covered with wet clay, which allowed them to survive.
The mortar of the houses, which are located in groups of two, three, four, and five, are renewed from time to time to prevent collapse. The houses are joined to each other from inside with arches, while the domes were not closed so as to allow in sunlight and permit smoke to escape.
The 250-year-old conical domed houses of Harran, which have been declared an archaeological site, have been taken under protection. The region is home to nearly 1,000 conical houses and some of them have been restored and opened to tourism.
Cultural heritage of country
Önal said similar houses in the region dated back to 10,000 years ago but that the ones in Harran were about 250 years old.
Harran Mayor Mehmet Özyavuz said they were developing projects to better promote the conical domed houses of the district.
He said they would open more houses to tourism next year. “We are pursuing joint projects with the Culture and Tourism Ministry and other relevant institutes. First of all, we want to keep these houses alive and then present them to visitors.”
When the works are completed at the ancient site, more tourists will visit the district, Özyavuz said.