City’s cultural life
Assist. Assoc. Professor Didem Deniz, University of Usak, Turkey
The inhabitants of Sinop Province were settled in various districts based on their ethnic and religious status, after the 18th century. Though this variation no longer exists today the impact of different ethno-religious groups is seen today in the dwellings remaining from the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the most significant traces of the cultural diversity is seen in the various districts. The Muslim districts were called after their mosque or prayer room names in general. For example, Camikebir is a district name that has been used since the Ottoman period until the present. The non-Muslim districts were called with the expression "Mahallat-ı Kefereden" (non-Muslim district) generally. Other than the recently founded ones, the majority of the district names are extinct. In Sinop, like in all the Black Sea port cities Muslim and non-Muslim populations co-existed and collaborated. Despite the significant non-Muslim population, Sinop was in majority Muslim; until mid-19th century it consisted of 70% Muslim people and 30% non-Muslim people generally. Although some districts were known as distinctively non-Muslim like the 367 non-Muslim dwellings in the districts of Arap, Ayaklı, Ayanikola, Balatip, Kalafat and Meryemana during the 19th century, there were also districts that Muslim and non-Muslim families lived as well. Until mid-19th century, the non-Muslim districts consisted of mainly Greek families.
Starting from the mid-19th century, apart from the Greeks, the Armenians also constituted part of the non-Muslim population in Sinop. According to the Temettuat Registers of the period, 62% of Sinop population lived in Muslim districts and 38% lived in non-Muslim districts. The fact that the ones with the same nickname or family name have lived in the same districts is a sign of strong relationships between relatives. That is why each district had a distinctive traditional ethno-religious structure.
It has been a tradition for men living in the districts of Sinop to have the same name with their fathers. Especially, giving his father’s name to a baby boy who had lost his father has been among the most common customs. In non-Muslim districts, family names have been used generally as in Muslim families, although it was usual for baby boys to take the granfather’s name. In both non-Muslim and Muslim households, it is clearly seen that three generations have lived together. There have been few nuclear families in the Ottoman Empire except in the big port cities like İstanbul, Thessaloniki, İzmir. That is why the households in Sinop where the traditional structure is seen more have crowded family structures. Extended family structure is necessary for providing family’s annual expenses, sharing tasks and protecting the safety of the family. The houses in the districts were able to accommodate a few generations. Houses were constructed around a large yard as one-storey or two-storey buildings. These houses that could accommodate three generations comfortably indicate great similarities with the houses in other cities of Anatolia.
Crowded households shared important similarities between Muslims and non-Muslims. Despite the religious differences, these people had many values in common. Religion, language and ethnic differences were not considered important; city people shared certain common rules. Not having an elite class that was acknowledged legally made each individual follow the common rules. Although there have been religious and ethnic distinctions as Armenian District, Greek District, and Muslim District, the life in the districts indicated few differences.
The small producers, workers, and craftsmen dealt with agriculture that constituted the source of living for the households. Agriculture has been the main source of living in Sinop. Agriculture, fishing and stock-breeding have been the only production sectors in which the city has been self-sufficient as no industry developed in the area.
 İbrahim Güler, “Sinop in the first half of the 18th century”, Unpublished Doctorate Dissertation, Marmara University, Institute of Turkic Studies, Department of Modern Age History, Istanbul, 1992, p.51.
6 Hüseyin Arıcı, “Social life in Sinop and its environs based on no. 71 religious records, December 18, 1853- March 22, 1863”, Unpublished Master’s Thesis, Marmara University, Institute of Social Studies, Istanbul, 1994, p.193.
 Ibid, pp.40-41.
 Selim Özcan, ”The Socio-Economic State of Sinop during the Reform Era”, Unpublished Doctorate Dissertation, Ondokuz Mayıs University, Institute of Social Studies, Samsun, 2007, p.37.
8 Ibid, p.39.
 Ibid, p.54.
 Ibid, p.57.
 Abdurrahman Kurt, Bursa sicillerine göre Osmanlı ailesi, 1839-1876, Uludağ Üniversitesi Basımevi, 1998.
 Özcan, Ibid, pp.50-57.
 Hürü Sağlam Tekir. "1927-1928 Devlet Salnamesinde Sinop Vilayeti." Kafkas Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitü Dergisi 1.13, 2014.