Mahalle (Arabic: محلة maḥallä, Persian: محله
maḥallä) (abbreviated mh. or mah.) is an
Arabic word, adopted into
Turkish (mahalle), Albanian (mahallë, or mëhallë or mëhalla) and
Romanian (mahala), which is variously translated as district, quarter,
ward, or "neighborhood."  It is an official administrative unit in
Middle Eastern countries. In the Ottoman Empire, the mahalle was
the smallest administrative entity. The mahalle is generally perceived
to play an important role in identity formation, with the local mosque
and the local coffee house as the main social institutions. It lies at
the intersection of private family life and the public sphere.
Important community-level management functions are performed through
mahalle solidarity, such as religious ceremonies, life-cycle rituals,
resource management and conflict resolution.
The mahalle is represented in the municipality and government by its
muhtar. The muhtarlık (the office of muhtar) has been designed as the
smallest administrative office, with representative and enforcement
powers at the local level. However, in some cases, the muhtar acts as
not only the representative of the government towards the community
but also the head of the community towards the government and subverts
official government policies through intricate face-to-face
It is also the smallest urban administrative division in Iran. Each
city is divided into a few Mantaqes, (Persian: منطقه), which
is then divided into Nahiyes (Persian: ناحیه), further
Mahalle (Persian: محله), usually having a Mahalle
council (Persian: شورای محله), a quarter mosque, and a
In September 2017 a Turkish based association refers to the historical
Mahalle by organizing a festival with the title Mahalla in the frame
of parallel events of the 15th Istanbul Biennial. This festival in
Istanbul features cultural initiatives of the civil society and
artists from the Middle East and Europe, the Balkan and Turkey.
Against the background of the ongoing migration crisis all
participants of the festival are concerned in their work in various
ways with themes of hospitality, identity formation, homelessness,
migration and fluctuation, the changing of an existing order and the
dissolution of borders.
^ Саламзаде А. В. Проблемы сохранения и
реконструкции исторических городов
Азербайджана. — Б.: Элм, 1979. — С. 57. — 138
^ Mahallenin Anlamı (in Turkish)
^ a b uludağ sözlük (vbulletin dictionary)(in Turkish)
^ "Mahalla Festival". InEnArt. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
Turkish terms for country subdivisions
ağalık (feudal district)
reya (Romanian principalities)
voyvodalık (Romanian provinces)
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