When coming to existence, humans built shelters using the existing building materials. The building materials offered by nature in those times were TREE, EARTH AND STONE.
The human being learned using these 3 basic materials. Wood was opted for as it was soft and could be shaped easily. Wood is a building material used by humans when they first moved to living in settlements. However, wood was soft, could not endure atmospheric conditions and was light against attacks from the outside.
In area where there was lack of wood, humans used earth (clay) with an intelligent discovery. They shaped clay using various moulds and produced various buildings.
Stone, on the other hand, was the material seeking infinity in universe. Although production of stone was tougher than that of wood and earth, it has always been a material resisting attacks and fire. It is observed that buildings surviving today have been built of stone. Forts, castles, palaces, city walls and other important structures have always been made of stone.
Natural stones have been one of the basic elements of structures historically. Stone is used from the foundation to the wall, from the floor to the roof of the building. The most important detail is that it has been so in the first buildings of human history.
With such a historical past, natural stone is still one of the most basic elements of structures today. It cannot be said that structural elements like concrete and steel, the products of advancing technology, have replaced stones. There definitely is a natural stone home in the dreams of everyone. The topic I would like to discuss here is stone buildings and the cities of country made up of such buildings.
The city has numerous definitions. The concept of city here is a unit where people live together in, which has common usage areas comprising different buildings. Each city surely has an identity. We sense this identity in all towns or the traditional center of a town we visit. Actually, today, especially in our country, the developing areas of all towns look alike and unable to sense the city identity. We may not figure which city we are in if we don’t read the sign at the entrance of the town. Strangely, we see the same buildings in Black Sea in any town of Southeastern Anatolia as well.
Natural stones of different features are available all over our country. When you go to a settlement and look at the old stone buildings, right away you become informed about the stones at that locality. The color of the stone exposes itself right away. The visual state of the stone in a structure you look at also tells you about how strong it is. In this context, we will try to summarize the stone buildings of certain towns in our country and to remember them once again.
The main building material of Istanbul is küfeki stone and Marmara marble. The travertine küfeki stone has been used a lot in the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
Mimar Sinan has used Küfeki stone in all his works. Marmara marble extracted from Marmara Island has been the most sought after material of columns, floorings and various detais.
Natural stone has been used in many historical structures in Istanbul. Saint Sophia, Bayezid mosque, Sultan Mosque (Blue Mosque), Yerebatan Cistern Basilica, Süleymaniye Mosque, Fatih Mosque, Kariye Mosque, Dolmabahçe Palace, Haydarpaşa Train Station.
We can see stones in numerous gates like Istanbul City Walls’gates, Belgradkapı, Silivri Kapı, Edirnekapı, Eğrikapı, Topkapı Meslevi Kapı and Yedikule Kapı. Sultan Ahmet Square, Dikilitaş, Yılanlı Sütun, Örme Sütun, German Fountain, Beyazit Square and Çemberlitaş are specimens first coming to mind in Istanbul.
Also known as Ankara stone, Sndesite and Andesite turfs (porous) have been natural building materials sought by architects because of their hardness, their pink color and porousness, making them fit for heat and sound insulation. These have numerous uses in especially exteriors on stairs, floors, retaining walls, full side flooring, windows, rain water drains and window sills. However, at certain levels of Ankara Andesite, iron sulphite minerals formed during volcanic activity causes the stone to be altered easily.
From that perspective, there are color and pattern variations especially in rocks used in the decoration of buildings.
There are folk songs saying;
“Look at Ankara’s stone,
Look at the tear in my eyes”.
Andesite’s pink color gives a warm look to the areas it is used.
Like in historical buildings, andesite has been used in buildings like Sümerbank, Iş Bank, İller Bank and Ziraat Bank in the Republic period. It is a material used by public agencies today. There are andesite quarries in Gölbaşı District’s Örencik, Yurtbey and Yaylabağ villages.
• Augustus Temple
• Ankara Roman Bath
• Ankara Fort
• Turkish Grand National Assembly Building
• Ankara Train Station
Anıtkabir should not be forgotten when one says Ankara. Those who have visited Anıtkabir know it; Anıtkabir has been equipped with stones coming from all over the country. The building is harmonious with all this stones from four corners of Anatolia.
Basalt from Karacadağ which is a volcanic mass between Diyarbakır and Şanlıurfa is the main building stone of Diyarbakır. The reason why this hard stone is picked for buildings is that quarries are close-by and the stone is resilient.
As soon as one enters the old town texture of Diyarbakır (Suriçi), one notes that homes are made of black basalt. Even the floors of roads are basalt. Basalt in still in use on roads with minimum 500 years of history.
As it is a hard rock, basalt has survived until today; it is also known as the black stone because of its color. The public calls the porous stone “female” and the non-porous stone “Male”. Basalt is a building stone good for sound and heat insulation as it is porous. The dominant building stone is basalt. Natural stones of beige color from Diyarbakır Hani and Çermik districts are mentioned as Diyarbakır beige in literature. The important stone buildings of the city are as follows:
• Ulu Cami
• Diyarbakır Fort (Walls)
• Zinciriye Medresah
• Mesudiye Medresah
• Deliler Inn
• Hasan Paşa Inn
• Meryem Ana Church
• Saint George (Kara Papaz) Church
• Hz. Süleyman (Nasıriye) Mosque
• Virantepe and Artuklu Palace
• Nebi (Prophet) Mosque
• Şeyh Mutahhar Mosque (Dört Ayaklı Minare)
• Diyarbakır Mar (Saint) Petyun Church
• Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı Home
The traditional building stone of the town is limestone. Limestone is a rock in use since pre-historical ages. There are artifacts showing that in the stone age, primitive humans built weapons out of limestone. In time, lime was derived by earning and pouring water on limestone. When limestone is extracted from quarries, it is white. In time, under pressure, it turns into pale honey or wheat sheave color. The hardness of the stone is 2.5-3, allowing not to be affected by tectonic phenomenon. The stone is non-porous and compact.
As the stone is soft when extracted, it is fit for handcrafting and carving. Especially, Assyrian craftsmen’s reflecting the telkaki decorations they use in jewelry making onto the stone, creates a beauty worth of seeing. The stone is also suitable for heat and sound insulation.
In Mardin, the stone of the region is used except for windows, doors and cabinets. The historical buildings of the town, churches, mosques, bell towers, minarets, medresahs, homes with yards and eyvan are all made of “Mardin stone” or limestone.
This building stone where white color is predominant depicts cleanliness, inner peace and emergence of a depth coming from ages ago in its geography. Especially current lighting techniques are used, a magnificent image appears at nights.
Mardin, which appears to be a town wearing a white wedding gown, almost dreams that it comes from beyond ages.
• Kırklar Church
• Zinciriye Medresah
• Ulu Mosque
• Deyrulzafaran Church
• Kasımiye Medresah
• Mortşmuni Church
Natural limestones are sought after as they are easy to cut, shaped and motifed. All historical buildings in Şanlıurfa are made of this stone (limestone). Monument stones lying 17 km north-east of the town, dating back to 12,000 B.C., forming Göbekli Tepe temples are made of limestone.
Şanlıurfa stone is a little more porous compared to Mardin stone. Mardin stone, in time, takes the color of honey. Urfa limestone on the other hand, is mostly white. It is suitable for sound and heat insulation as it is porous.
People of the region call this stone also “Havara, Urfa or Nahit” stone. There are numerous antique quarries all over the region.
There are galleries and tunnels opened in these quarries with stone extracted using techniques similar to that of today’s. Surface weight is borne by slices in middle areas. Hence, the natural surface appears intact when looked from outside.
• Halilü’r- Rahman Mosque
• Ulu Mosque
• Fırfırlı Mosque
• Göbekli Tepe