The silhouette of villages, accentuated by slim minarets, dot the hillsides alongside the highways. Villages reflect the climate and character of the region. Mediterranean villages on the coast are made from stone that takes on the color of the sky when the sun is low on the horizon; timber starts to be integrated as you reach higher altitudes. Wood frame and log construction in the temperate zone gives way to wattle and daub and eventually sun-dried brick in the southeast. You may notice interesting structures such as earth ovens, round outhouses, or dome-shaped cisterns.
Houses in the mountain villages close to the Black Sea are scattered. Villagers communicate by sing-song yells and yodels which echo in the valleys. The Toros (Taurus) Mountains in the south were the traditional habitat of nomadic Turks who, in search of moderate temperatures, spent the summer in the mountains, the spring on the plateau, and the winter down on the delta plain.
A real treat for the history buff is a visit to one of the villages just outside Bursa, such as Cumalikizik, handed down almost intact from the 13th century. Here one can see the origins of the typical Turkish house with its window overhangs, functional spaces relating to the courtyard and the arrangement of rooms on the second storeys, as well as the settlement layout overall with its intricate pattern of narrow streets.
Typical villages are built around a central square with the mosque, the school, the general store, and, of course, the center of male life, the coffee house. The coffee house is the men's domain where important issues such as politics and crop prices are discussed and local gossip exchanged. The village fountain, inner courtyards and doorways are the woman's domain. Exchanging information about goods and items related to health, child rearing, and daily sustenance happens there. You will also see villagers on their way to and from the fields or orchards on donkeys and tractors.
Villages preserve the traditional dances, customs, weaving, puppet shows and plays in their original forms. The folk dramas and dances, which are still performed, carry traces of the shamanistic rituals of the Ural-Altaic region, Anatolian festivals honoring gods such as Dionysus and mythical mortals like Adonis.
Every region in Turkey, in fact every village, has its own folkdances. There is a total variety of more than 1500. Dramatizing the exaltation of nature, animals, everyday life, courtship and combat, folkdances continue to occupy an important role in village life. Their exquisite choreography and universal meaning contain a vast resource of artistic energy.