The felt tent with a round dome form, also called a "yurt", still used by nomads in Mongolia and central Asia is the possible source inspiration for the Turkish tent construction. The shape is most resistant to winds and snowstorms with a rigid, domed wooden frame which stands on its own and is not dependent on the covering for support. The interior of the yurt is clad with hanging rugs, cushions and is thus soft, comfortable and colorful. With the increasing wealth and influence of the Turkish empires, tents also became a symbolic form of a mean of advertising the splendor, power and wealth of the empire. Later on, Turkish architecture of brick and stone imitated some patterns of tents with their numerous kiosks and pavilions. A yurt of a ruler, a khan, was made of red felt, and decorated with gold like a domed palace.
The idea of nomadic life in tents remained with the Ottomans, as they were also influenced by Persian and Byzantine tent creations, as they developed their own lavish imperial style.
The largest collection of Ottoman tents is at the Topkapi Palace Museum, in storage, and poorly documented and published. The second largest collection is at the Military Museum in Istanbul, with few in display. The only place where the visitor can enter the tents and enjoy their breathtaking beauty is actually in Cracow, Poland. The Royal Castle of Wawel houses five complete pasha's tents. The largest one has a wall height of 3.7 m and a length of almost 24 m .It is oval shaped with tree poles and crimson canvas. All their pieces plus several others at the Cracow National Museum were taken from the Ottoman's at the Battle of Vienna, in 1683, including the tent of the grand vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha.
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):