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Through the centuries, Turkish artist and artisans have developed styles of art that are uniquely Turkish.
Forbidden by Islam to portray human and animal forms in art, early Turkish artists turned their creative talents to architecture, music, poetry, weaving, wood and metal working, ceramics, glassblowing, jewelry, manuscript illumination and calligraphy.

Today a new flouring of Turkish art and culture is taking place in Turkey.


Turkey has a very ancient folk dance tradition which varies from region to region, each dance being colorful, rhythmic, elegant and styles. Among the most popular are "Çayda Çira" from the Sivas region in Central Anatolia. This is performed by young girls dressed in silver and gold embroidered kaftans who dance in the dark with lighted candles in their hands; "Silifke yogurdu" from the Mersin region in the South in which dancers click wooden spoons together above their heads; "Seyh Samil" from the Kars region in the East, a beautifully dramatized legend of a Caucasian hero; "Kiliç Kalkan", an epic dance performed with swords and shields from the region Bursa; "Zeybek" from Izmir, another epic and vigorous dance performed by male dancers who bang their knees on the floor in between steps. Folklore has also had a considerable influence on ballet. First imported from Europe and Russia, ballet became institutionalized in the Republican era along with other performing arts. The Turkish State Ballet owes its momentum and development
to the great British choreographer Dame Ninette de Valois. The State

Ballet in both Ankara and Istanbul has, for decades, performed many world classics. Several new foreign and Turkish productions have been introduced into the repertory over the years and a number of modern dance companies have begun to give performances throughout the country.


Turkish music evolved from the original folk form into classical through the emergence of a Palace culture. It attained its highest point in the 16th century through the composer known as Itri. Great names in Turkish classical music include Dede Efendi, Haci Arif Bey and Tamburi Cemal Bey. It is a form that continues to be professionally performed and one that attracts large audiences. Turkish popular music is a variation of the national musical tradition, played with instruments such as the tambur, kanun, ney and ud. Folk music has developed gradually over the centuries in the rural areas of Turkey. It is highly diversified with many different rhythms and themes. Musical archives contain almost 10,000 such folk songs. Turkish religious music, mostly in the form of songs, is centuries old and rich in tradition, embodied at its most perfect by Mevlevi music. The Turks were introduced to western classical music through orchestras which were invited to the Sultan's Palace to celebrate occasions such as weddings. The great Italian composer, Donizetti, conducted the Palace orchestra for many years. The first military band was founded in the 19th century.

During the Republican era, the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1924, and the Orchestra of the Istanbul Municipality Conservatory, played a leading role in introducing and popularizing classical music in Turkey. Turkish composers drew their inspiration from Turkish folk songs and classical Turkish music. Today, conductors such as Hikmet Simsek and Gürer Aykal, pianists like Idil Biret and the Güher and Süher Pekinel sisters, and violinists like Suna Kan are internationally recognized virtuosos. Leyla Gencer is one of the leading sopranos of La Scala Opera, wildly acclaimed whenever she performs in her native Istanbul.

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