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FROM THE OTTOMAN PROVINCE TO THE COLONY: LATE OTTOMAN EDUCATIONAL BUILDINGS IN NICOSIA

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As many cases in the history of urbanization in the East and West, relations between the centre and the periphery represent unilateral transactions. This was also the case in Cyprus. The Island with its strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean became the scene for many conquests, some of which were stabilized as long lasting administrations. Thus, the central powers had the opportunity to import and disseminate their architectural preferences. After the collapse of the Byzantine domination, it was during the crusades that medieval Europeans discovered the importance of Cyprus as a strategic island. Feudal administrations founded in Syria and Antioch, as well as in Edessa County, were organized in order to control the military and commercial routes through the landownership. Among the crusaders, a French dynasty called the Lusignans, the nobles of a minor degree, colonized Cyprus, imitating the Frankish political and religious institutions. During the Lusignan period (1192-1473), two cathedrals and several churches were constructed in the manner of the French Gothic style, especially in Nicosia and Famagusta; as well as palaces, monasteries and other religious edifices which were allocated to different communities and sects. The primary emphasis of the Lusignans was to convert the Island into a naval base of the Catholics. There ruled other sea powers in Cyprus: the Genovese occupied the Island in 1373; Mamlukes plundered the cities in 1426. Finally the Venetians took the land (1489) to fortify their naval dominance. Using the contemporary military engineering methods imported to Cyprus around 1490s, triangular bastions were added around the Nicosia walls, to defend the city against possible Ottoman attacks. Administrative palaces in Famagusta and Nicosia, as well as private residences, all richly ornamented in the Venetian Renaissance style, contributed to the Island’s architectural substance. The coats of arms of St. Mark’s Republic, some of which can still be observed on the historical fortress walls of Famagusta and Nicosia, reflected one of the invincible powers of the Mediterranean basin (1). After the conquest of Nicosia in 1570 by Lala Mustafa Pasha, Ottomans built a row of strongholds and fortifications established foremost at the southern shores of the Island, such as in Larnaca, Baphos and Limassol. Nicosia appeared as an important commercial centre on the eastern Mediterranean trade routes, between Egypt and Caramania on the northsouth direction, as well as between the Syrian ports and the western part of the Mediterranean. Ottomans brought in their life style, molded in the economic domain, as they did in other provinces. Majority of public structures in Nicosia displayed a religious character. Main mosques were converted from the Gothic churches, and educational institutions, namely the medreses, had been established around the mosques. The “founding pashas”, who conquered the Island or who ruled in the early period of the Ottoman administration, besides converting cathedrals and churches into mosques, established charitable foundations in towns, organized the transportation of immigrants from Anatolia in order to increase the Muslim population and developed certain measures for improving the economic situation on the Island. Commercial buildings, such as Kumarcýlar Haný, Büyük Han, Bedesten, stores, shopping streets and numerous shops of the artisans in Nicosia, attest to the development of economic facilities (2). Evidently, the charitable foundation (waqf) organization in Cyprus sustained close ties with economic and social life. Charitable works provided the basis for the foundation of a residential quarter. The cultural effect of the waqf appeared as a means in the transfer of the Ottoman social system produced in the centre to the provinces. Typical plans of the Ottoman traditional architecture, such as public bath, fountain or tekke, sustained in Cypriot towns as significant products of the social life. The transfer from the centre to the periphery went on with the British regime in the late nineteenth century. The colonial administration brought some measures related to the British overseas interest, as well as their life style. Cypriot architecture was inevitably influenced by the current developments. The railroad system, post offices and storehouses reflected the British emphasis on the communication systems and the naval trade. Educational activities also represented rulers’ aspirations. First, medrese institution as an integral part of the charitable foundation belonged to the Ottoman traditional life style. The Ottoman administrators took the traditional medrese as an inevitable device for public instruction. Later, modernizing efforts in the educational area extended far to the distant provinces of the Empire. Between 1882 and 1908, construction of school buildings was realized and disseminated from Rumelia to Iraq. In this period, a concern for the education of women was seriously taken into consideration. This study deals with the architectural characteristics of the schools in Nicosia, built during the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century. The Ottoman administration, though replaced by the British control, continued to exert its influence on the social life of the Muslim inhabitants. This new situation was not without an Ottoman accent. The degree of the gradual change in the school architecture, as influenced by the educational thoughts and architecture of the two countries, which imposed their styles on the Island, appears as a question. Apart from stylistic details, also the intra-mural urban development represented a unique character. (Figure 1) The British city plan which was prepared by the Colonial Land Registration and Survey Department (CLRS) in 1927, was apparently revised later, but provides an important documentary source to help examine the problem. Intending to include the Muslim and Greek quarters within the city walls, the city plan was arranged as a portfolio, where buildings were shown as to note the original identifications (3).
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