The secret behind the quirky blue doors and windows of Anatolia



The blue doors and windows one sees all over Anatolia — especially in regions popular as holiday destinations — tend to give people a sense of serenity and inner comfort. Alright, so could be that our ancestors painted these things blue in order to capture the hearts of people visiting the country? Well, as it turns out, there is no single answer.

Millions of people throughout the big cities look forward to summertime and going somewhere on holiday for the entire year. Permission for time off is obtained from work, car routes plotted out, all the details of exactly who will be visited, what will be seen and what will be done are all figured out. The costs are also calculated. The excitement grows, and the countdown starts. At last, the final week comes, and then the last day. Most people setting off on their long-awaited holiday leave their home quite early in the morning, watching the stress and chaos of the big city slowly disappear behind them.

Some head off for holidays filled with sand, sun and sea, while others go to the lands where they were born. People tend to choose spots that make them feel the most rested, most at home, most serene. Once they arrive at their holiday destination, people often compare everything they encounter there — from the aroma of the tomatoes in the market, to the color of the sea, the price of melons, the flow of traffic and the cleanliness of the air — to what they’ve left behind in the city.

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Even if it’s only to a relative degree, Anatolian cities tend to be more comforting than İstanbul. There are many factors that contribute to this. One of these factors is the aforementioned blue-painted doors and windows. Interestingly, you can see these all over the place along the Mediterranean coastline, the Aegean coastline, inner Anatolia, and southeastern Anatolia. The wooden window and door frames that are almost entirely gone now from Turkey’s larger cities can still be found in Anatolia. One reason you see so many versions in blue is because people can still paint them!

But what is the reason for the blue that we see on so many doors and windows throughout Anatolia? According to many, there are really two reasons, both sort-of legends in their own way. One belief that is quite widespread is that it has to do with the scorpions that are so common in Anatolia; people believe that scorpions see the color blue as red, which then triggers their inner warning signals and prevents them from crossing these thresholds.

Though the whole idea that blue repels scorpions has certainly not been scientifically proven, there is some information that would appear to support this belief. For one, the areas where one encounters the largest number of blue-painted doors and windows do overlap with where the most scorpions are found. In fact, throughout southeastern Anatolia and parts of inner Anatolia, one can even see table legs painted blue. And it’s not just wooden tables; one also sees the metal tables and chairs often used for large village weddings with their legs painted blue also, apparently in an effort to keep scorpions from climbing up the ankles and legs of guests.

Interestingly, other regions of the world also known to have scorpions — like Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, as well as in Italy and China — also have blue incorporated quite regularly into the architecture, most commonly doors and windows.

The second legend regarding the blue doors and windows of Anatolia has to do with the color blue being a protection against “nazar” (evil eye). Thus, having entries like doors and windows painted blue presumably protects the inhabitants of that home from the evil eye. In both China and India, it is believed that blue windows and doors protect people from evil spirits. In the end, no matter what the reason– and it is certainly interesting to consider the scorpion and evil eye possibilities — there is no question that the blue doors and windows one sees throughout Turkey lend not only serenity and a sense of calm, but character to the landscape.


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