Istanbul Hints

Category: Istanbul

Zonaro Istanbul

The conquest of Istanbul through the eyes of Zonaro

If Sultan Abdulhamid hadn’t given the order, our only picture of Mehmet The Conqueror would be gentile Bellini’s Portrait.

 Chief Palace Painter Fauso Zonaro worked for months at the behest of Abdulhamid to depict Mehmed IIs conquest of Istanbul from the lowering of the galleons into the Golden Horn to the commander’s victorious entry into the Byzantine capital.

The 34th of the Ottoman sultans and as a caliph of Islam, Abdulhamid succeeded in keeping the Ottoman Empire on its feet for 33 years from 1876 to 1908.

He would be respected and appreciated not only for the successful reconstruction projects on which he embarked upon his accession to the throne, but also for the cultural activities that he patronized. The large visual archive known as ‘The Yildiz Photographs of the Reign of Sultan Abdulhamid is one of the world’s oldest known and most important collections. Abdulhamid, who took a keen interest in the art of painting, appointed Che Italian Orientalist painter Fausto Zonaro his ‘Palace Painter’.

Orientalist painter Fausto Zonaro

Born in 1854 to an extremely poor family in a small village in Italy’s Veneto region, Zonaro nevertheless had a very colorful and exciting life. His art reached its zenith in Istanbul, where he came first as a traveler, when he was appointed the Ottoman Palace Painter by Sultan Abdulhamid II early in 1896.

Zonaro’s acquaintance with Munir Pasha, the Minister of Protocol of Yildiz Palace, would be an important turning point in his life. Following that meeting, he met Osman Hamdi Bey, who made sure that his paintings were seen and appreciated by Abdulhamid. And in 1896 he was honored with the title and position of Chief Palace Painter.

Halil Ibrahim feast

A stroll through the old quarters on the opposite bank of the Asi is one of the best ways to get a feel for the city. For preserved here in the stone-paved courtyards that join the narrow lanes are the finest examples of the old Antakya houses: Antakya House, the mansions of Fuad Kuseyri and of the Yahyaogullari, Halepogullari and other families. These two- and three-story houses, the oldest of which is 200 years old, were built facing the mountains, while their stone-paved courtyards boast pools and gardens.

The call of the muezzin mingles with the peal of church bells as children play marbles in the narrow cobblestone streets. A city frequently mentioned in the Bible, Antakya has a high potential for faith tourism. And the Church of St. Peter is an important place of pilgrimage for Christians in this city which is home to the first church after the one at Jerusalem. Our extended stroll through these streets steeped in history is enough to whet our appetites.

Our destination this time is Harbiye, 10 kilometers outside the city and a resort area going back to Roman times, where hidden waterfalls rush down into a deep, wooded valley. Offering the full range of Antakya cuisine, the restaurants at Harbiye are true palate pleasers. And olive oil soap, and the silk scarves and hope chests produced in the neighboring villages are sold in shops on the road to the falls. Refreshing to body and spirit with its pure air and outstanding cuisine, Harbiye is great for a day’s outing, and we are mighty glad we came here.

22/10/2017     0 Comments  

Avram Kamondo Relations

Relations with upper class…

These bankers, especially Avram Kamondo, was financing the defense expenses of the Ottoman Empire in the Crimean War between the years 1853 and 1856. Avram Kamondo had very close relations with all the grand viziers of the period, and even his intimate friendship with Mustafa Resit Pasha was not a secret to anyone. He also served as the financial consultant of Mustafa Resit Pasha. He was awarded the title “Count” as to be assigned to his son after his death in 1867 by the Kingdom of Italy as a result of his close relations with King Vittorio Emmanuelle II of Italy and the contributions he had wade. “The first person with foreign-nationality who achieved the permission to buy real estate in the Ottoman State” is Avram Kamondo.

In addition to his financial businesses. Kamondo had also developed a lot of projects about his congregation. The Jewish community during 1830’s was so illiterate and ignorant that “any Jewish person who learned a different language was to be deemed he changed his religion”. Avram Kamondo took the leadership and management of the congregation. He was aware of the modern education in Europe as he very frequently visited there. He anticipated a modern elementary school where Turkish, French and Hebrew would be taught. The school which was established in Haskoy, Piripasa started schooling in 1854.

Avram Kamondo

However, it was not welcomed by some reactionary rabbis and fanatic congregation, so he decided to withdraw among the cries “we are loosing our religion!” Upon death of his only son in 1866, Avram Kamondo decided to move to Paris with his grandchildren in 1872. He passed away in his manor in Paris the next year. He willed to be buried in Istanbul and therefore Avram Kamondo’s body was brought to Istanbul with the help of the Ottoman State. He was buried in the mausoleum he had built beforehand. He was so much loved by Istanbul people that on the day his body was brought to Istanbul, all the personnel in the stock exchange and finance institutions ceased their work while Jewish people were in mourning. The tradesmen in Galata. and Golden Horn also closed their shops.

After Avram Kamondo’s settlement in Paris, on the other hand, his bank in Istanbul shrunk its businesses. It was closed in 1910’s. Family members carried on living in Paris and contribute to works of art. The great wealth of the family disappeared with the break of World War II and all the members of the family were sent to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Kamondo’s, who were one of the richest families in the world once, shook deeply with the death of Avram Kamondo and ended up in a tragically in a concentration camp…

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26/03/2017     0 Comments  

Istanbul Palaces and Kasirs

Dolmabahce Palace

Sultan Abdulmecit moved his court from Topkapi Palace to Dolmabahce Palace in 1855.

The palace that was built in showy style called Sekerci Style, is built by the Armenian Balyan family.

It forms a complex with Dolmabahqe Mosque and the Clock Tower. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, died in this palace in 1938. The interior decoration of the palace is in harmony with the complexity of the exterior surface which extends as far as 500 meters parallel to the sea.

(Open between 9 AM -4 PM everyday except Monday and tbursday, Dolmabahce Caddesi (Dolmabahce).

Dolmabahce Palace, constructed in 1855, after Topkapi Palace, is an imposing building on the sea shore.

Aynali Kavak Kasri

Aynali Kavak Kasi, located at the shore of Bosphorus, is a palace decorated with Venetian mirrors. The palace that was built in the 18^ century by the order of Sultan Selim UI and rebuilt in 1830, hosts the cultural activities today. Open between 9.30 AM – 5 PM every day except Monday and Thursday, Kasimpasa Haskoy Yolu (Kasimpasa).

 Kuguksu Kasri

Next to Anadolu Hisan, right at the shore is Kuquksu Kasn with its pretty fountain, from the 19th century.

Open between 9.30 AM – 5 PM everyday except Monday and Thursday, Anadolu Hisan

 Beylerbeyi Kasri

Beylerbeyi Kasi that is located on the Asian side, to the north of the Bosphorus Bridge was a pavilion where the empires and sultans hosted their guests. Its construction was completed in 1865.

Open between 9.30 AM – 5 PM Every day except Monday and Thursday, Beylerbeyi.

Bab-i Ali and Alay Kosku

Bab-i Ali used to have the same impression between r843-i922, what Kremlin has today for the European politicians. Alay Kosku, with its wavy roof and two fountains is across the building that was once the administrative centre of Ottoman Empire.

Alemdar Caddesi (Sultanahmet).

Open between 9.30 AM – 5 PM everyday except Monday and Thursday,

Tekfur Sarayi

As the best palace in terms of condition remained from Byzantium,

Tekfur Sarayi, with its three-floor decorative exterior surface, is dates to the late 13th century with a great possibility.

It was built between the front and main walls of Theodosian Walls.

Open between 9 AM – 12.30 PM and 1.30 PM-5 PM everyday except Monday,

Hoca Sakir/Sishane Caddesi (Ayvansaray).

 Sait Halim Pasha Chalet

Sait Halim Pasa Chalet, which is placed in Yenikoy, is now back to the life after the restoration works that lasted for years. The chalet, which was built as a sea palace by Petraki Adamandidis from Canakkale in the first years of 19th century, is placed in a garden that has a pier and also a gate to Bosphorus. It is also named a “chalet with lions” because of the two lion sculptures that are in the front of the garden called “selamlik”.

Rooms lined up around the middle sofa constitute the main plan of the chalet, rising on the marble basement as two levels. South part and north parts of the chalet are separated for men and women only. The entrance to the both parts is through the glassed-in sections. In spite of the plain exterior of the chalet the interior walls and ceilings are decorated by Arabic influenced ornaments.

20/03/2017     0 Comments   , , , , ,

Agehi (985/1577)

He was born in Vardar of Yenice. His real name is Mansur. Being from the cadi class he was a scholar, a historian and a poet. He died in Istanbul in 985/1577. According to Tahir Bey of Bursa Agehi left a complete divan. Agehi took part in Suleyman the Lawgiver’s last campaign Zigetvar in 974/1566 and wrote a historical record of this event as well.

He wrote a commemarotive poem of more than fifteen couplets with conventional mariner’s language and offered it to the Sultan through Piyale Pasha. According to records he was given the Sheref Thelogical School in Istanbul. Since he was in Gelibolu as a teacher in close contact with Piyale Pasha who was a master seaman of those times, it is only natural that he wrote about the sea and knew the conventional terminology of the seaman pretty well.

In our literature we have had the tradition of writing with terminologies of various subjects and occupations. Some of these occupations and subjects are astronomy, music, books, medicine and logic. We do have poems written by Agehi written during this period with mariner phraseology which were an influence in literary circles.

Although there were poets like Yetimi who wrote poems in the field before Agehi did his was the well known and studied of the two works. His poems seem to be the ones considered to be more worthwile to study and teach by people like Deruni, Taflicah Yahya Bey, Aski (Işki), Gubari, Za’fi and Molla Mehmed.

Writting with mariner terminology and using words of this phraseology in stating metaphase and allegories in prose and poetry both was quite common among writers and poets of Suleyman the Lawgiver period. We could attribute this fact to the greatness, the popularity and to the grandness of the Ottoman navy during these times. The fact that sailors of the empire reached all the way to India in Suleyman’s reign made the prospects of the occupation look more prestigions, glorious and rewarding than were before.

Glorifying of the same subject was common among literary people during the following centuries as well. We have poems by Zari (died 1098/1686), Refeti (died 1118/1706) and Bursali Feyzi (died 1185/1771-1772) written in mariner language.

18/06/2016     0 Comments   , ,

Palace Weddings on the Ottoman Dynasty

Shows and fireworks on the Golden Horn

That day the heart of Istanbul and of the empire was beating at this procession.

The participants wore their best outfits and carried their most valuable arms and pistols. Ahmet III was trying to show his power and wealth to his people with, this street parade instead of revealing his supremacy to the entire world in the battlefields. With the feasts and festivities he organized, with the mansions he had built during the Tulip Era and with all the luxury, he had changed the outlook of the capital city and ushered a new epoch in the Empire. The wedding day was a historic day for Istanbul. Everybody on the streets was happy. Joy was in the air. The streets were overcrowded. The windows were wide open. Faces beneath the veils were praying for the happiness of the bride and for the wealth, dashing look of the Sultan and his procession.

The procession was literally throwing money on the streets. People were stepping on each other to snap the coins. The procession arrived Eyiip, at the palace, prepared for Fatma Sultan. The procession participants disintegrated. Everyone had an entertainment to watch. Padishah and his wife went back to their palace. In the evening shows were staged on the Golden Horn, while fireworks were being lit on rafts.

Silahtar Ali Pasha dies in war

After this tiring and overwhelming wedding, which lasted for 25 days…

Silahtar Ali Pasha could not have Fatma Sultan. He had to send her back to the palace and wait for a while until she grows up and becomes a young lady. Silahtar Ali Pasha had to wait eight years for Fatma Sultan’s adolescence. He never had a chance to have a single private moment with her. Unfortunately, he died in Pclervaradin War before he could reunite with his fiancee, for whom he spent a fortune and organized feasts for weeks in order to gain supporters for his love. He became a martyr before he could realize his dreams.

Kosem Sultan marries her daughters

In the Ottoman Empire, the Sultans could marry before they were adolescents, but they could not share the same house with their spouses. This tradition was started by the well-known empress, Valide Kosem Sultan. For the sake of fortifying her position in the palace, Kosem Sultan married her minor daughters with the elite and reputable pashas of the time. Likewise, Ahmet 1 married her daughters Ayse Sultan and Fatma Sultan at the age of 13.

Sultan Ibrahim married Gevher Sultan at 3, Beyhan Sultan at 2. Emine, Ay§e and Safiye Sultans, the three daughters of Mustafa II, were married at 7. As mentioned above, Ahmet III had his daughters Fatma and Ummugulsum married at 5 and 2. Moreover, he married Atike Sultan at 12. Mustafa III married his son §ah Sultan at 3. This abnormality continued until the reign of MahmuL II, who pul an end to this situation and set the marriage time as the adolescence.

Multiple marriages

This weird tradition described above and the ongoing wars had a natural consequence. The sultans were widowed many times and were married more than once. The daughters of Ahmet I, Ayse, Fatma and Safiye, all married 6 times, which was a dynasty record. This record is followed by Safiye and Emine, daughters of Mustafa II, who married 4 times. So did Atike Sultan, daughter of Ahmet III.

16/06/2016     0 Comments   , , , ,