Wooden Houses of Anatolia
Tired Wooden Construction Culture in Safranbolu
been in a wooded region throughout the history (even today 50% of the total
settlement area is woodland) enabled Safranbolu and its surrounding villages to
make the most use of wood. Almost everything from the spoon used for eating to
the churn used for making butter or buttermilk, kneading trough used for making
a paste, wood used for rolling out thin wafer, bat used for washing linen,
groove used for rolling out thin wafer, bat used for washing linen, groove used
for pureeing “tepme gödel”, sack clothe sieve, basket, plough, provisions
stores, and cradles are a part of the wooden culture in Safranbolu. Even
carriages and their wheels, by means of which transportation was provided were
wood in the same way with most of the traditional Anatolian settlement areas.
Wood was the main element of Safranbolu settlement frame. The main carrier
system of traditional Safranbolu houses was originating from the filling up of
mainly brick and rarely small stones to the gap in the wooden band and over the
stone ground. In some of the houses (stores etc.), the construction was built of
wood from the base.
Water troughs, water channels in the mills, garden wall cavering-heads, roof
covering-thin, boards pool houses, Safranbolu urban frame reflects the wood’s
own warm-bloodedness by means of ablution places, ablution stalls and
soap-stands in the inner side of the house and the bathroom cabinets, cabinets,
ceiling coverings, sofas, carvings, niches, windows, doors, stairs, helplesses,
ties, and verands in the rooms.
Even in the other materials out of wood had been used as a helping material.
As an example, in even 60 cm. high between the stone walls wooden niches
functioning as the joists were used and with the same purpose between adobe
walls barks, called “sar” were used.
It was observed that in the construction carrier system; fir and yellow
pines, ceiling coverings, in the doors; walnut-chestnut, in the floor and thin
boards; Scotch fir, in the cabinet doors openworks, paddle-boxes, and lavatory
floors; yellow pines were used.
Reha Güney authenticated almost all of the Wooden Construction Culture in
Safranbolu in his book “Safranbolu Houses” printed in 1987. By being included in
the list of World Heritage List, these volues were inscribed in the
In our trip today, you had the chance to observe these values in the selected
historical houses. What I want to present here is tired Safranbolu and the
problems of the tired-sick wooden construction elements thought to be in
parallel with Safranbolu. Unfortunately, some parts of the Wooden Construction
Culture Values, which we watch with nostalgia in Suha Arın’s old film “Time in
Safranbolu”, were beaten to the time.
Even though restoration works got fastener from that time till now, it is not
possible to say that wooden construction culture has totally been preserved.
As a restoration expert, I have to confess that because of the reasons that
are not in my power, I also had to commit the same sins. Based on what we came
across in our works as Restoration Department of Vocational High School, I want
to present some wooden deterioration samples together with their reasons.
In the history of Safranbolu, a family used to buy his/her descendant’s wood
used for the house before making him/her married. They used to preserve it as
much as possible and also take the most care of the element while cutting it.
Therefore, today in Safranbolu, in the houses in which life is still going on
and which are well-kept up, not allowed to get damp, well-aired, there is almost
no possibility of becoming infected with insects, maggoty or mouldy.
On the other hand, in the houses in which life does no more go on, which leak
from the roof, are not well-aired and kept up, the following problems can often
In the inner parts of the houses; lavatories which are called ablution
places, in the rooms; “yunmalıklar” were made of wood. The going out ways of
these constructions’ being stopped up or having leakage problem cause damp and
other damages in the other parts of the construction. Especially, this can even
cause the brick and stone parts of the ammoniac constructions to get decayed,
and this results in decline and collapse.
the woods that are close to the carrier system, in the chimneys, when the fire
is made, firstly, the outer parts of the wood get heated, later, when the heat
reaches to the essence of the wood, the wood is inflamed and the blaze splashes
upon the cabinets which are close to the fireplace, ceiling coverings and the
Chimneys and fireplaces are, at the same time, the most important two
characteristics which carry both rain and damp to the same place. The other
problems relevant to the structure are the structure’s getting worse because of
making excessive loading by using the constructions out of their main services.
(The residences being used as a corn or cement store can be stated as a good
example of this statement).
- The wooden carrier system’s getting worse as a result of brick’s, used as
filling matter, swelling, becoming heavier or disaggregated, and of the water
coming down from the roof, chimney or eaves.
- The wooden band’s being exposed to water and other air conditions as a
result of construction plaster’s and stuffing mortar’s pouring out of the
- Because of insulation deficiency in the roofs.
- Because of the insulation deficiency (in traditional Safranbolu houses, it
was observed that there was no roof insulation and was a need for the old style
tiles to be turned over), there occurred leaking, water leakage and insufficient
air-conditioning, as a result of this, the carrier system’s, floor’s, and
ceiling covering’s, cabinets’ and other wooden decoration elements’, especially
the upstairs’ getting decayed are among the most common deterioration types.
As our rector stated, wood’s being painted with oil paint prevents it from
having a well-air-conditioning, but not from becoming maggoty. In the walls,
instead of lime whitewash, being able to breathe, brick plaster, towy, and these
sorts of materials’, which consist of cement and are unable to breathe, being
used cause the carrier systems to be internally deteriorated.
In the restorations, instead of conservation and consolidation techniques,
renovation techniques are being preferred and while putting this into practice,
previous combination techniques, decoration elements and details are not taken
so much into consideration. This is because enough attention is not paid to the
time that the wooden culture deserves, technicians, materials, and technical
usages are not so much widespread as required. Moreover, carpenters and builders
that are peculiar to traditional wooden construction culture are unfortunately
below the required level.
In the same way with every part of Turkey, there is no laboratory which is
directed to wooden conservation and of which technicians, owners of the
buildings and builders make use of. As our architects are not so much qualified
in this topic, unfortunately, restoration projects do not contain required
interference forms and techniques.
In the restorations carried out here in Safranbolu, in the last years experts
tried to preserve the old and new wood by means of “emprenye” method, but only
those who are the members of upper-class in terms of financial power can afford
the cost of this kind of restoration.
“Pinotex”, which is a commercial product and whose protecting characteristic
is open to discussion is preferred because of its price.
The use of materials such as petrol oil, which is traditionally used, is not
so much common.
In our region, there are very few masters knowledgeable about the wooden
construction culture. They have trained very few people (most of them are their
relatives). In our region, although there is a Restoration Department at
Vocational High School, it can not make the most use of the masters as the laws
related to this issue are not so much flexible.
our region, there is no civilian community organization about the protection of
Wooden Construction Structure. Maybe, these experienced masters will have an
important role in the education of the younger generation. In the same way with
the Protection Law no. 2863, there is no specific item related to the protection
of Wooden Construction Culture in the Zoning Plan with the aim of Protection
prepared for Safranbolu. Our Ministry of Culture does not have a fund to enable
financial support for the protection of Wooden Consruction Culture.
The existing Protecting The Historical Monuments Fund is not sufficient.
Considering the general view, Safranbolu might be taught to be an open air
museum, but we can not call it a museum which has been preserved with a
This is because, especially in terms of wooden construction culture, there
are many values whose alarm signals are already ringing. We could easily call it
an open air museum, but enough attention has not been paid to the wooded
construction and work has not been carried out.
A Wooden Construction Culture Protecting and Developing Centre should be
established with the Coordination of University, UNESCO, ICCROM, Ministry of
Culture, Restoration and Traditional Handicrafts Departments of Safranbolu
Vocational High School, under the structure of Z.K.Ü., and it should have an
international quality. Their education durations should be 4 years. Safranbolu
should hold international courses related to this issue.
Ministry of Culture’s restoring and insulating all of the roofs will make the
owners of the houses more excited and will encourage them to preserve the other
parts of the houses.
Yrd. Doç. Dr. Aysun ÖZKÖSE
Asst. Prof. Dr. Z.K.Ü. Safranbolu Vocational School