Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Beehive Homes of Harran.


If anyone had said to me, before today, that there are adobe homes in Turkey, I would not have believed them. When Denis told us we were going to see beehive homes, I had no idea what he was talking about.


We're in the desert.  I don't know if that's technically true or not but most certainly, it is dry and arid here.  Not a tree in sight.

The beehive homes are found in Harran which is located just about 10 miles from the Syrian border.  Near the border are the Syrian refugee settlements.  I don't know that anyone really has an accurate count of how many refugees are there - some say 600,000 while others have a number as high as 2 million.  Whatever the real number is, there more displaced refugees that Turkey was prepared to deal with.

Entrance to the beehive home.

So far, everything has gone so smoothly for us that I think pretty much everyone in the group has forgotten all of Denis's words yesterday as we've not encountered a single policeman or police car let alone a security blockade.  We've just been enjoying ourselves as tourists.  That would continue with the very unique beehive homes of Harran.


A beehive house is a building made from a circle of stones topped with a domed roof. The name comes from the similarity in shape to a straw beehive.

Part of the exterior layer had washed off on one section to reveal the construction underneath.

Some of Harran's beehive homes were still in use as dwellings until the 1980s and I believe a few function today as tourist hotels but for the most part, the remaining homes are strictly tourist exhibits, We arrived outside a small complex of the homes which fell into the category of tourist exhibits.  Denis did a brief introduction and then turned us over to a local guide who told us more about the homes and then led us inside one of them.  

Looking back at the entrance to the complex.

Even a mud home deserves some adornment.

Saw these two items, one looks like a stool, sitting on the roof.

Harran's traditional beehive adobe houses are constructed entirely of mud; there is no wood used at all.  Some believe this is the case because there are no forests in the surrounding region to provide wood so the original builders used the only construction material that they had easy access to - dirt which when mixed with water became mud.

The design and construction of the homes keeps them cool inside which is essential in this hot, arid region.  The thick adobe walls trap in the cool air and keep the sun out.  There are few door openings and windows are kept few and small to minimize the glare and heat of the sun.

Inside the home, the conical roofs trap hot air during the day and releases it during the night, keeping the living space below to very comfortable temperatures.   We were visiting on a cool autumn day so we couldn't really tell how cool the interior is when the temperature outside soars to its hottest in the summer months or how warm the house is in the dead of winter.  On the outside, the roof slopes steeply to shed the occasional but heavy rains.

Entering inside, I was surprised at how spacious it felt.  The domed ceiling (aka conical roof) give a sense of space.


Looking up at the dome, you can see the little opening at the top which helps in moving air through the home.  You can also see the circular pattern of the bricks.  I imagine they were laid out like you would do if you were coiling a rope to create a conical shape.


Standing inside and looking up, the roofs also gave a sense of space so you didn't feel so confined.

From the outside, I had presumed that one cone represented one home but that was not the case.  In fact, each home has several conical roofs.  

Inside, the home was very spacious with rooms serving distinct purposes as modern homes do. There's the communal living space, bedrooms and kitchen.  Granted what we were in was maintained for tourists but most certainly it was spotlessly clean inside even though you were surround from floor to ceiling by mud.


Mud home or fancy brick home, homeowners take care to decorate them.  That point was made here - there were paintings and other artwork hung up.  No problem putting in a nail :-)


You may have to live in a mud building but most certainly that doesn't mean you have to go without modern conveniences. I don't recall seeing a bathroom or a sink with running water but this particular home was electrified so there was plenty of light for us to see by.  Not surprisingly, there were also a few flat panel TVs hanging on the walls :-)

Bro posing for the obligatory photo op.

All day long it had been drizzling so once we were done inside, all we wanted to do was head back to the van.  Besides, we had been running late all day and we still had one more place to visit before calling it a day.  While we had already been a long day, everything we had seen today was so different and new for me that I was feeling completely invigorated....not tired at all.

On our way out of Harran, we caught glimpse of other beehive homes.  One day, it would be fun to come back and experience staying in one.




Off to Şanlıurfa!