What are the Historical Mansions in Turkey?

It has been a tradition since the first periods in the Ottoman Empire for statesmen to protect scholars and writers, to gather them in their mansions, and organize scientific and literary conversations. In the 19th century, this tradition became more widespread, and the meetings held in the mansion of many statesmen, scholars, and wealthy people had a great impact on the intellectual life of the period. Especially during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz, the mansions, where famous scholars of the East and the West were honored by staying as guests for months, turned into academies. Most of the time, scientific, intellectual, literary, and political issues were freely discussed at the meetings led by the hosts themselves. This environment in the mansions enabled the East and West thoughts to meet, and with the help of the political conditions of the period, Western thought emerged victorious from this encounter. For this reason, mansions had an important share in the spread of Western thought among Ottoman intellectuals.

The famous historical mansions in Turkey are listed below:

1. Cemil Molla Mansion

One of the rarest examples of 19th-century Ottoman architecture survives in the untouched grove of the Bosphorus.

In the year 1886, Uryanizade Cemil Molla Efendi (1865-1941), who had served as the Minister of Justice and the Head of State in the last periods of the Ottoman Empire, came across when he was about to give up hope to have the mansion built on the ridge of Kuzguncuk, which he dreamed was a symbol of difference and a product of refined taste. To the Italian-born architect Signor Alberti. With the deep-rooted manners and spirit of the Ottoman Empire, Alberti’s technique and knowledge of European style created this historical work, perhaps the most ambitious, innovative, and unique in Istanbul.

Throughout his life, Abdulhamit’s favorite, close friend and chess player, who served as the chairman of the Bab-i Mesihat (Religious Affairs) in Osman-i Aliye, the Sheikh-ul-Islam, the head of the Council of State (Council of State), and eventually the Minister of Justice twice. his friend; Vahdettin’s constant adviser, Cemil Molla’s enthusiasm for creating the mansion that he dreamed of, caused him to work as both an architect and a foreman during its five-year construction.

The pearl of Kuzguncuk ridge in the Istanbul of those days; was the most talked about the subject with its ceiling decorations gilded with gold, dining rooms with fumoir, and bedrooms adorned with stained glass. The white marbles of the bath, which is known as the “eighth wonder of the world” in the language of Istanbulites, were laid under them with thin heater slices to keep them warm at all times. While it was unimaginable to use heating and electricity in a place other than Yildiz Palace in Istanbul during the Age of Sultan Abdulhamid, Molla broke new ground in this regard as well. Cemil Molla Mansion, like Yildiz Palace, was illuminated with a diesel engine and heated with a central heating system. Molla was quick to add a new one to the adjectives of “the first electric house” and “the first house with central heating”: “The first house with a telephone”.

The spatial richness of Beyaz Kuleli Kosk in Kuzguncuk has also witnessed a distinguished cultural and entertainment life for years. At night, discussion meetings were held with the participation of the leading philosophers and poets of the period and lasted until the morning, these meetings were crowned with pieces from the divan literature that Molla recited for hours.

Mullah, who retreated to Beyaz Kuleli Mansion during the coming to power of the Committee of Union and Progress and then Mustafa Kemal’s departure to Samsun, watched his country no longer as an administrator, but as an ordinary citizen. When Ataturk came to visit the Beylerbeyi Palace, he declared that he wanted to meet Mullah, supporting Mullah’s view of contemporary life and his view that he was an intellectual who believed that his country needed innovation. The Molla family, like many Ottoman families, sold their assets one by one to maintain their standard of living and lost the Beyaz Kuleli Mansion 7 years after Cemil Molla’s death in 1941.

MESA bought this mansion, which was the unofficial culture and art center of the Abdulhamid era, with its legendary architectural richness, in 1986, exactly one hundred years after its construction. After the meticulous restoration work carried out in 2004-2005, the mansion looks to the future more strongly from the ridges of the Bosphorus.

2. Baris Manco Mansion

Moda district in Kadikoy is a district identified with Baris Manco because of the house in Moda where Baris Manco produced and lived; On June 9, 2010, was converted into a museum by Manco’s family. Baris Manco’s “The last time a person ceases to be mentioned, and then he is considered dead.” The word describes the value of the museum in a very good way. Baris Manco was a master artist, traveler, world person, and kind-hearted person. This museum, which was opened with the cooperation of Kadikoy Municipality, Manco’s Family, and many institutions; offers visitors Baris Manco’s artistic identity as well as different features of him. The museum digs deep into the hearts of the beloved artist and keeps their memories alive in the best way possible. If you are wondering about the features of the Baris Manco Museum, continue reading our article.

The history of this house, which witnessed the life of Baris Manco, dates back to ancient times. Home It was built by Dawson between 1895 and 1900 by Pape Kalfa. The building changed hands several times in the 1930s, upon Dawson’s return to his country. It was purchased by John Whittall in 1965 and called the Whittal Mansion. Baris Manco bought the mansion from the Whitall family in 1984 and had it restored. The building is a 19th-century Victorian building. The beloved artist died in this house in 1999. Manco’s family, based on his “The last time a person ceases to be mentioned, then he is considered dead” transformed the house into a museum with the help of Kadikoy Municipality and Turkish Halk Bank to remember Baris Manco.

Baris Manco Museum has 3 floors and a basement. At the entrance, there is a dressing room, dining room, and living room. At the entrance, it is possible to see the Steinway B2010 grand piano, which Baris Manco said, “It’s my dream!” About the piano. An ultra-realistic statue of Baris Manco can be seen right next to it. On this floor, there are awards, a glassware collection, various historical artifacts, and important wooden items. It is possible to see the childhood rooms of Dogukan and Batikan Manco on the upper floor. On this floor, there are the equipment and cassette recordings of the “The Boy Who Will Be A Man” (Adam Olacak Cocuk)  program. On the lower floor, there are the Knight’s Room, items from the period, and the materials used by Manco, who was given the title of knight by the Belgian Royal Family, while painting. There is Baris Manco’s car at the entrance of the house. The house has 2 gardens, a summer and a winter one. Baris Manco Museum is among the must-see museums in Istanbul.

Getting to the Baris Manco Museum is quite easy. Baris Manco Museum is located in the Moda district of Kadikoy, one of the popular districts of Istanbul. If you are coming from the European side, you can reach Kadikoy by using Marmaray and ferry. Afterward, you should reach Moda on foot. If arriving from the Anatolian Side, transportation to Kadikoy should be provided by using the metro, bus, taxi, yellow dolmus, and minibus options. Afterward, you should walk to Moda from the center of Kadikoy.

Baris Manco Museum can be visited between 09:00 and 17:00 every day of the week except Mondays, religious and painting holidays. If you are going to visit as a group, it is very important to make a reservation in advance. A full ticket is 0.60 United States Dollar / 10 TL and a discounted ticket is 0.30 United States Dollar / 5 TL at the Baris Manco Museum.

3. Danioli Mansion

This mansion, which is an example of 19th-century French architecture, has survived to the present day. Menelaos Danioli, a Catholic Greek cheese trader, and his Russian wife Vera were the original owners. In September 1912, this lovely mansion, which had been the setting for a passionate love story, was sold to the Italian Rombakis family. The current owners substantially refurbished the mansion in 2005. In a 1000 square meter garden of 1900 m2, there are vineyards, a variety of fruit trees, olive trees, and hundreds of flowers and plants.

The previous “Danioli Mansion” and the current “Kadriye Hanim Kosku” is a sight to behold, with their spectacular garden, private pool, breathtaking views from all rooms, and verandas on three sides.

4. Ahmed Ratib Pasa Mansion

The mansion is in the Acibadem district and on the street named after the mansion. Faik Bey Masjid Street and Genc Street can be found next to the mansion. Almost none of the historical mansions around it exist today. One of them belonged to the unique hero Esat Pasha (1862 Yanya – 1938 Karacaahmet). Esat Pasha’s great mansion has been demolished recently. There is no trace of the mansion, which belonged to the Undersecretary of Internal Affairs Celal Bey and was later transferred to his grandson Ali Fuat Turkgeldi Bey (1867 Acibadem – 1935 Yahya Efendi). Ahmet Ratip Pasha’s wooden, four-story, white-painted mansion is in a garden and has a beautiful view. Resembling an eagle preparing to fly when viewed from afar, the stepped backyard of this enormous structure extends to Faik Bey Mescidi Street.

A high retaining wall was built here. The building was built with very precious and rich materials. Stair railings are cut and extremely precious baccarat crystal. All doors and windows are decorated with carved figures. All the wooden parts were made and brought from Vienna. Ahmet Ratip Pasha’s summer mansion is in a large garden of 30,929 square meters. All the doors and windows of the building were processed like jewels by the carving artists with a jeweler’s skill. There are crystal chandeliers at the top of the stairs. At the junction of the walls and ceilings, extremely elegant, fine architectural decorations swept the rooms. The tiled bathroom, on the other hand, is truly a masterpiece. There are 54 rooms in the historic magnificent building, some of which are used as the dining hall and dormitory of Camlica Girls’ High School, which provides education here today.

This summer villa was built by the esteemed architect Kemaleddin Bey (1870 in Uskudar, 1927 in Ankara). Kemaleddin Bey also built the following works: Bebek, Bostanci, Bakirkoy, Beyoglu Kamer Hatun mosques; Sultan Resat, Mahmut Sevket Pasha Tombs; Ayazma Primary School, Bostanci Primary School, Eyup Resadiye School, Mekteb-i Kuzat (University Library),  Sultan Hamit Madrasa (Istanbul Commodity Exchange), Ankara Gazi Education Institute, Foundation Inns, Vakif Guraba Hospital new buildings,  Laleli, Harikzâdeler Apartments. Ahmet Ratip Pasha Mansion, after the Second Constitutional Monarchy of 1908, together with its garden and all its annexes, was executed by the Minister of Education Sukru Bey (Ministerial 24 January 1913 20 July 1918), who was executed in Izmir in 1926 for the assassination of Ataturk. It was purchased to build a school in his name. Here, on December 13, 1914, Acibadem Numune Girls’ Boarding High School was opened in the style of the famous ‘Tereziyanom College’ in Vienna, nurses and female governesses were brought from Germany, and school materials and furniture were prepared in a very luxurious way.

5. Asiyan Mansion

Tevfik Fikret built the Asiyan Mansion on the Rumeli side of the Bosphorus in 1906. The poet himself designed the structure, which is dubbed “asiyan,” which means “bird’s nest” in Persian. Tevfik Fikret, who lived here for the last nine years of his life (1906-1915), bequeathed the home to his wife, Nazime Hanm, after his death. It was purchased by the mayor of the time, Lutfi Krdar, in 1940 and converted into a museum, displaying the items of Tevfik Fikret and his friends, as well as the poet’s grave, which was relocated from Eyup. The building now houses the “Asiyan Museum,” which is affiliated with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Library and Museums Directorate.

What are the Characteristics of Traditional Mansions?

The word mansion, which comes from the nomadic life and determines the place of this verb with the verb to stay in a place to spend the night, has been a source for terms such as residence and mansion, which determine the permanent elements of civil architecture in the continuity of settled life. The use of the term “mansion” in the Ottomans almost always indicates a distinctive social status, as in the terms “pasha mansion”, “bey mansion” and “government mansion”, which are still used in daily life. However, the definition of buildings belonging to a sultan or lady sultan as “palace” indicates that this status includes notables of the state such as vizier, pasha, ulema, and wealthy people. The term mansion in Turkish civil architecture terminology, which calls the houses located on the coastline “yali” or “sahilsaray” based on their topographical features, and the houses located in a summer resort or private garden as “mansion”, is naturally the whole family of wealthy people within the urban fabric It refers to the large structures in which it resides together with its servants.

Although the boundaries of the mansion typology in Turkish civil architecture cannot be drawn exactly, it has been designed as a complex with the addition of structures such as outbuildings, baths, and cisterns, where daily work is carried out and servants are accommodated, depending on the topography, which includes harem and saloon sections as single or separate masses and barns, servants’ rooms, service units, etc. There can be rooms ranging from ten to forty in the mansions rising as one or two floors on the ground floor consisting of a large closed courtyard surrounded by spaces. On the other hand, some examples resemble a palace, such as the 1865-dated Âli Pasa Mansion in Mercan, which has a room above it but is defined as a mansion due to its owner’s status and location. In addition, the fact that some of the modest houses such as Cakir Aga Mansion in Birgi, Yagcioglu Mansion in Tokat, and Hazeranlar Mansion in Amasya are called mansions is related to the fact that the family they belong to is one of the notables of the region.

It is noteworthy that the mansions are located in gardens surrounded by perimeter walls where the topography is suitable. The 1751 Kavafyan Mansion in Bebek, which consists of two separate buildings, including the harem section, which has survived almost unchanged, and the bath and kitchen units, which did not survive until our time, is located on a sloping land surrounded by perimeter walls that open to the street with a single door. The dispersed settlement approach, which places the Selamlik almost in the center, is frequently encountered in this period, especially in the summer resort areas. On the other hand, the Afghanis Lodge of 1793 in Uskudar, where the same practice is observed, is among the structures that should be examined within the framework of residential architecture, although its function is different. It is known that the establishment of many lodges was realized by placing meshihats in mansions donated by wealthy people who were among the followers of the sect, and most of them operated in mansions that they rented or bought. The Afghanis Lodge, located in a large garden, is the first and most original example of these, and it is understood that the service units that give the building the quality of a social complex continue the layout and architectural program of the mansion they replace.

The divanhâneli design of the saloon section, which still exists, reflects the typical space setup of the period and is a striking example of the relationship of this building type with civil architecture. On the other hand, it is seen that the gardens are narrowed and even unused, especially in the mansions in places such as the city walls of Istanbul where the housing texture is not suitable. It is noteworthy that in these buildings, the entrance opens directly to the street and the single-mass designs that combine the harem and the salute section stand out. It is recorded that in Kaptan Pasha Mansion, which is one of the Tulip Age structures, about which much is known, although it has disappeared today, a design that gathers the harem and salutation sections, whose stony entrances open to the street, was applied in a single mass. Menemenli Mustafa Pasha Mansion in Kadirga, which was a residence for pharmacists and dentists’ schools for a while, also had a design that combined the equal-sized harem and salutation sections in a single mass. The establishment of the relationship between the harem and the salute sections with different functions, which has been seen in single-mass designs that have shown a remarkable development since the Tulip Era, which is an important turning point in residential architecture, has also formed the most unique aspect of the mansion architecture.

It is thought that, at least until the 18th century, the designs with outer sofa and divanhane were in the foreground in the formation of the interior spaces in the mansions. In this respect, the sofa of the Afghanis Lodge, which was expanded with a double iwan, and the saloon hall of the Amcazade Huseyin Pasha Mansion, which is the oldest example of civil architecture in Istanbul and can be described as a mansion located in the seaside, are the most important examples that can give an idea. However, as can be seen in this building, the design scheme with a divanhane and an outer sofa was developed by examining it with different variants within the cultural environment of Istanbul and the lifestyles that developed around the palace, and the space set up with a middle sofa, especially since the Tulip Era, has put its weight on the mansion architecture. In the harem part of the Kavafyan Mansion in Bebek, the design with a double iwan and a middle sofa, defined as “karniyarik”, with a double iwan design, and the design of the middle sofa with four iwans, with rooms placed at the corners of the harem and saloon sections of Kaptan Pasha Mansion, is the most common interior design.

They have many functions while being aesthetically pleasing. Functions such as eating, drinking, going to bed, and getting up were also carried out in the multifunctional rooms surrounding the middle hall, which had common daily functions such as receiving guests, chatting, and even eating. In the furnishings of the spaces, sofas placed in front of the windows, cupboards for beds and quilts, niches and cabinets for various items, barbecues, and stoves for heating had an important place. Wooden ornaments, curtains, carpets, embroideries, and paintings reflecting the stylistic features of the period, as in the Kavafyan Mansion, were among the important elements of the furnishings. This design scheme was not abandoned even when Western influences heavily influenced our architecture. In addition to the strong syntheses manifested in the use of oval and round-planned sofas that became widespread in the 19th century, it continued to exist with different variations, sometimes degenerating, such as the Zeynep Hanim Mansion or the 1865 Subhi Pasha Mansion in Sarachane. On the other hand, it is seen that this scheme, which is understood to be influenced by the designs of the dynastic structures shaped according to the ceremonial rules, was preferred by the groups that were in close relations with the dynasty and took important positions at the state levels, and the lower layers of the society, who were not very familiar with these rules, were not very willing in this regard. In large residences, which are mostly seen in important suburbs such as Eyup, Uskudar, and Kadikoy, where families still maintain their ties with tradition, functional space fiction is shaped according to the situation of the land or the wishes of the landlord encountered.

With the new lifestyle developed around the palace, living house designs, which were replaced by designs with interior sofas in Istanbul, shaped by traditional Turkish life, and which can be defined as exterior sofas, continued their existence in the mansion architecture in Western and Southern Anatolia, mostly depending on the climatic conditions. Cakir Aga Mansion in Birgi, where the living Turkish house design, which is understood to have widespread use in Istanbul from the information and engravings in the travel books, is applied, draws attention with its paintings and decorations containing naive examples of the provincial style. The Kurkcuoglu Mansion in Urfa, where we find the same design with the difference in local lifestyle, points to a local style shaped by the introverted life, with the harem, salutation, and service units lined up around a large courtyard that replaces life. In Safranbolu, Kastamonu, Ankara, Tokat, Amasya, and Sivas, which are similar to Istanbul in terms of climatic characteristics, it is seen that the capital city-origin middle sofa space setup is applied in original and modest designs that combine local tastes with tradition and necessities.

The material preference in the mansions is mostly wood material for Istanbul, except for the ground floor, which includes the stone part. The walls of the ground floor, on the other hand, are mostly made of stone material without opening as much as possible, on which a wooden carcass building mass is built. The upper floors had a very active appearance with overhangs, bay windows, numerous windows covered with cages, and wide eaves. Despite the great destruction caused by the fires and the decree that did not allow the construction of wooden houses after the Cibali fire in 1660, this preference did not change in any way. Even the use of masonry materials, which increased with the developments in construction techniques in the second half of the century, remained pale compared to wood. Zeynep Hanim Mansion, Fuad Pasha Mansion, which was built in 1867 and now houses the Faculty of Pharmacy of Istanbul University, Subhi Pasha Mansion, where this university’s Institute of Medical History is located, Mutercim Rusdu Pasha Mansion, which houses Vefa High School, National Rauf Pasha Mansion, where the Education Directorate is located, is one of the important mansions built with masonry materials. However, the fact that the Âli Pasa Mansion, which is a masonry building, was completely burned apart from its walls in the Circir fire in 1911, showed that this practice was not very useful in the cramped city texture.

The choice of material we encounter in mansions in Anatolia varies according to the convenience of supplying the material. Although wood is seen as the main material in Western and Northern Anatolia, stone material precedes wood in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Anatolia. Although the stone material used especially in the carcass and body walls has provided the formation of unique residential architecture in Urfa, Mardin, Kayseri, Erzurum, and Cappadocia, it is observed that wood finds an area of ​​use that is not inferior to stone decoration in interior decorations and other parts.

Despite exhibiting different examples depending on the tastes and lifestyles changing according to the regions, the traditional Turkish house design scheme, which continued its existence throughout the entire Ottoman period in Anatolia, can be followed in general terms from Central Asia, if the different material and design preferences are left aside, this building group can also be traced in Turkish architecture and shows that architecture should be evaluated within the traditional line. X-XII. in Khorasan and Transoxiana. The influence of the central space tradition of Central and Central Asia, which is seen in the mihmanhâneli designs of the houses dating back to the 5th century BC, on Ottoman civil architecture is not discussed. However, it is clear that the Ottoman civil architecture, which was shaped by different factors and lifestyles, gained a very characteristic identity that surpasses both its origin and the old traditions of the geography in which it settled. Especially in the 18th century, when Western influences were concentrated in Ottoman architecture. It has created one of the most interesting civil architectures in the history of the world, which has emerged with a unique identity by breaking away from the humble line of traditional criteria and enriching it with the lively and dynamic elements of baroque, rococo, empire, classical and “art nouveau” styles since the 19th century.

Due to the large areas they cover in the urban areas, mansions are under threat, especially in big cities and developing centers, and the number of mansions is decreasing day by day due to the destruction caused by fires and indifference. The preservation of these structures, which constitute important examples of our civil architecture, by assigning them to official and civil organizations or by transforming them into museum houses, which have many examples in Anatolia, by giving them a function as living spaces, is of utmost importance in terms of their transfer to the future.

Should Mansions Tours Be Added to Turkey Holidays?

Mansions are invaluable pieces of the history of Turkey. They are both beautiful to look and also they are architectural wonders of many talented workers. While on holiday in Turkey, mansions should be visited to have a taste of wonderful Turkish history and architecture. For more information to see more holiday spots in Turkey, you can check our article.

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