The Mehmet Nihat Nigizberk Collection of Architectural Photographs and Drawings consists of photographs, photo cards, notebooks, plans and architectural drawings related to specific historical buildings and also construction and restoration projects in the architect’s archive. These archival materials, which bear witness to the Late Ottoman and early republican era in Turkey, reflect the conditions of the historical monuments (primarily examples of Anatolian Seljuks, Ottoman, Mamluk and Arab architecture) and also applications of architectural practices in construction and restoration as well as social and cultural environment of the period.The photographs and photo cards, as the main body of the collection located in 18 albums and 11 envelopes, comprised of images of over 100 unique structures in over 40 cities such as İstanbul, Bursa, Konya, Damascus, Jerusalem, Gaza and Cairo ranging in the geographies of Anatolia, the Middle East and North Africa.The notebooks of the architect (16 in total, 7000 pages), dating from 1909 to 1948, also form a valuable source for researchers as they contain a wide range of information related to architect’s restoration and construction projects, voyage notes, personal observations, architectural calculations, drawings, construction material types and their prices.Researchers are able to navigate through the collection by filtering the records for specific structures, locations, structure types, architectural elements as well as document types.
Mimar Hayreddin (15th -16th century):
Mimar Hayreddin is the architect who built Sultan Bayezid II’s (1481-1512) complex in Edirne. His name is mentioned in the Bursa Pilinç Hanı as a repairer (meremmetçi). It is also written in a document dated 1511 that he was the Chief Canal Planner (baş suyolcu). Hayreddin was a precursor of the tradition of Ottoman Classic Architecture. It is believed that he was a master of Mimar Sinan.
Yakubşah bin İslamşah (15th -16th century):
The name of Yakubşah bin İslamşah was frequently mentioned in documents between 1503 and 1515, among the architects who were rewarded by Sultan Beyazid II. Yakubşah built the Beyazid Madrasah. His son, Hüdaverdi, was also known as an architect. Yakubşah had two assistants: Ali bin Abdullah and Yusuf bin Papas, who were from Devşirme.
Davud Ağa (?-1598):
Davud Ağa was a pupil of Mimar Sinan. After Sinan’s death, Davud Ağa became the Chief Architect. When Sinan was the Chief Architect, Davud Ağa worked as the minister of waterways, and repaired canals and drains in Istanbul. He renovated the Topkapı Palace and its waterways. Davud Ağa participated in the Iran Campaign in 1593. After returning to Istanbul, he worked on renovations of the Holy Room (Hasoda) and hamams in the Topkapı Palace. Davud Ağa built Mehmed Ağa Mosque and Mehmed Ağa Hamam under the supervision of Mimar Sinan. To build large mosques, Davud Ağa used variations of plans of octagons and hexagons like Sinan. Davud Ağa became the Imperial Chief Architect (Hassa Mimarbaşı) in 1588. He built pavilions such as Sinan Paşa Köşkü and Sepetçiler Kasrı in the Topkapı Palace, as well as several mosques, including the Mehmed Paşa, Cerrahpaşa and Yeni Mosques. Among his important works are: Sepetçiler Kasrı, İncili Köşk, the Tomb of Sultan Murad III in the Sultanahmet Complex, the tomb of Koca Sinan Paşa, the tomb of Siyavuş Paşa, the tomb of Defterdar Mehmed Paşa, Selimiye Arastası in Edirne, Sıbyan mektebi, Koca Sinan Paşa Complex, Gazanfer Ağa Madrasah and its complex. In 1598, Davud Ağa died from the plague, one month after he started the construction of the Yeni Mosque.
Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa (?-1608):
Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa was appointed to the post of Chief Archiect after the death of Davud Ağa. He continued serving until 1606. He served as a tommy (Serdengeçti) and sergeant (Dergah-ı Ali Çavuşu) in the Ottoman Army. He went to Erzurum and Damascus with the title of Paşa, and to Aleppo under the Ottoman Syria. He served as a Silistre marquis (Sancak Beyliği) when Davud Ağa was the Chief Architect. Ahmed Ağa was charged to put down the revolt of Kalenderoğlu. As a Minister of Waterways, Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa built canals in Istanbul and renovated the Topkapı Palace. He built Baruthane and Arslanhane in Kağıthane, Istanbul. He continued the construction of the Yeni Mosque between 1599 and 1603, which was started by Davud Ağa. Ahmed Ağa also completed the Tomb of Murad III. In addition, he was a craftsman of mother-of-pearl inlay, like Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa. The door decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay in the Tomb of Murad III. is famous as Ahmed Ağas’ work. Ahmed Ağa built the Tomb of Sultan Mehmed III. Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa died in a war in 1608.
Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa (?-1622/23)
Sadefkâr Mehmed Ağa is renowned as the architect who built the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the “Blue Mosque”) in Istanbul. According to the biographer Cafer Effendi, he was believed to be Albanian and brought from Rumeli to Istanbul in 1562. During the last period of the reign of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman I (1520-1566), Mehmed served as a cadet (Acemi Oğlan) for five years, and began working as a garden keeper at the tomb of Sultan Süleyman. During his service, Mehmed audited engineering classes. Getting permission from his teachers, he started to join classes and studied architecture with Mimar Sinan, Mimar Davud, and Mimar Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa for 20 years. He also worked in mother-of-pearl inlay with Halife Üstad Muhammed and became a specialist (Sedefkâr). Mehmed was a pupil of the architect Sinan, becoming his First Assistant in charge of the office in the absence of Sinan. In January 1586, he was appointed to complete the Muradiye Mosque in Manisa, a construction project started by his master. Mimar Sinan advised Mehmed to present a reading desk inlaid with mother-of-pearl to Sultan Murad III (1546-1595). Mehmed was given the position of gate-keeper in the Topkapı Palace.In 1590, Mehmed was appointed to be a Harem guard (Kulle Sofisi / Harem Muhafızı) and escorted a criminal to Egypt, then visited Hicaz, Palestine and Syria. After coming back to Istanbul, he was sent to inspect cities and castles in the Balkans, by order of the Sultan. He had opportunities to visit Selanik, Albania, Malta, Spain, Bosnia, Frengistan, Budin, Erdel, Eflak, Boğdan, Kırım, Kefe, Silistre, Niğbolu, Semendire and Belgrade. Mehmed was promoted to Chief Bailiff (Muhzırbaşılık) of Istanbul in 1591. In the same year, he began serving Hüsrev Paşa as a lieutenant governor (Müsellim) of Diyarbakır and an inspector of works. After returning to Istanbul as a chamberlain (Kapu Kethüdası), he was sent to Damascus as a lieutenant governor of Hüsrev Paşa. In 1597, Mehmed returned to Istanbul and was appointed to a Master of the Waterways by Sultan Mehmed III, and worked in this position for 8 years. Mehmed was succeeded as a royal architect by Dalgıç Ahmed Ağa and became the Chief Imperial Architect (Hassa Mimarbaşı) in 1606. Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617) ordered him to build the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. He completed it between 1609 and 1616. Mehmed Ağa had a book on architecture theory written for him by Cafer Efendi. In this book, he explained his methods of work and the architectural training of the period. Mehmed Ağa built 12 major and small mosques (mescit), eight tombs, two madrasahs, two hamams, three palaces and kiosks, one bridge, more than 200 palace and mosque fountains, 11 public fountains (sebil) and one caravanserai. After the death of Mehmed Ağa in 1622/ 23, Kasım Ağa was appointed as the Chief Imperial Architect.
Kasım Ağa (1570-1660):
Kasım Ağa is believed to be Albanian. He built Çinili Complex in Üsküdar, which is famous for its tiles. He enlarged Sepetçiler Kasrı, which was built by Davud Ağa. Kasım Ağa was discharged and killed in an atmosphere of intrigue in the Topkapı Palace.
Mehmed Tahir Ağa (18th century):
Mehmed Tahir Ağa served as the Chief Architect during the reign of Sultan Mustafa III. (1757-1774) and Abdülhamid I. (1774-1789). He renovated Fatih Mosque and built Laleli Mosque in the name of Sultan Mustafa III. Mehmed Tahir Ağa built Hamidiyye Complex in Bahçekapı for Sultan Abdülhamid I.
Sinan is considered the greatest Ottoman architect of the Ottoman Empire's Architectural heritage. It is generally assumed that Sinan was born in the year 1490. It is also assumed that he spent his youth in the village of Agirnas near Kayseri until conscription (devsirme) to the "masters of carpenters". At age 22, Sinan is then recruited into the Corps of Ottoman Standing Troops (Janissary). During this military tour he travels widely throughout the empire, as far as Baghdad, Damascus, Persia and Egypt. In his own words he informs us about his observations:
"I saw the monuments, the great ancient remains. From every ruin I learned, from every building I absorbed something."By mid-life Sinan acquires a reputation as a valued military engineer and is brought to the attention of Sultan Suleyman (1520-66) who in 1537 appoints Sinan (aged fifty) as head of the office of royal architects. The sultan, upon the death of his favorite son Prince Mehmet, orders Sinan to design and construct a royal mosque. Challenged by the works of his predecessors and the majesty of Hagia Sophia, Sinan creates the Sehzade Mosque, one of his first masterpieces and is considered one of the most remarkable of buildings to this day.Due to Sinan's rising reputation, a flood of royal as well as individual clients produces an unprecedented building boom that changes the Istanbul landscape to what today the Turks and people from all over the world consider the hallmark of this great city's image. Under Sultan Suleyman, Sinan is elevated to the position of State Architect, which he holds for a decade.The legendary stature of Suleyman is realized in what is commonly called the "crown on the hill". Dominating the Bosporus and the Golden Horn, the silhouette of the Suleymaniye, with its slender minarets and lofty dome, is one of the defining features of Istanbul. Almost 10 years in the making, Sinan master plans, designs and builds the "Suleymaniye Kulliye" (a complex of charitable buildings) commissioned by the Sultan on a site overlooking the Golden Horn and Pera. The Kulliye covers almost 25 acres and includes in addition to the large mosque (basilica plan), four schools (medreses), a hospice, public baths (hamam), a hospital & dispensary, bookshops, a library, the Sultans' tomb (turbe) and the worlds first teaching asylum (bimarhane).One of the truly unique urban Mosque and charitable building project is commissioned by the Grand Vizier and called after his name, the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque Complex (1571-72) in the Kadirga Liman quarter, location of the former gate (Kumkapi), which protected the harbor. The approach to this neighborhood complex is through descending narrow crooked lanes. The irregular site drops over 56 feet and presents a serious urban planning challenge. Sinan's indigenous talent for taking advantage of the lay of the land is evident from the respect for scale and the ingenuity and delightful changes in views one experiences accessing any one of the number of entries to this complex.During the construction of the Sokollu Sinan receives a great deal of pressure from Sultan Selim II, son and successor to Sultan Suleyman, to progress what is to be Sinan's monumental masterpiece, The Selimiye Complex in Edirne (1568-74). As described …"tall minarets announce the city of Edirne from its endless landscape and from as far as the eye can see. The mosque dominates and crowns the highest elevation, looking down on a city articulated by domes and minarets of other massive buildings."It is said that in Istanbul monuments grow from the city but the Selimiye grows from the land. The dome is of the same diameter as Hagia Sophia but is higher. The pencil-shaped minarets, grooved to express verticality, are some of the tallest ever built (230 feet from ground to finial). Sinan used these minarets as buttressing piers. The mosque plan, like the Sehzade Mosque, comprises two equal parts, one open (the spacious court) and one covered (the mosque). "The superb quality of the exterior does not adequately prepare one for the breathtaking spaciousness and sheer poetry of space and light within". Edirne has suffered through many earthquakes but none have harmed this monument. Sinan's crowning glory is summed up in this project through its graceful synthesis of the exterior with and ideal spatial interior.The few prominent projects presented here represent only a small part of this great architect's voluminous design and construction accomplishments throughout the Empire. It is believed that Sinan's total works encompass over 360 structures which included 84 major mosques, 51 small mosques (mescit), 57 religious schools (medreses), 7 seminaries, 22 mausoleums (turbe) 17 care facility, 3 asylums, 7 aqueducts, 46 inns, 35 palaces and mansions and 42 public baths.Sinan died in 1588 and was buried in a modest tomb, which he designed for himself at the rear of his garden near the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.
Reference: Stierlin, Henri, Turkey From the Seljuk's to the Ottomans, Koln: Tascen, 1998.
The collection, which demonstrates the societal and economic transformation of a country through the late-discovered but quickly-adopted medium of painting, showcases numerous significant artworks. Among the must-see pieces in the exhibition are the magnificent painting of Hagia Sophia by Şevket Dağ as well as Halil Paşa’s Madam X, which was exhibited in the Paris Exposition of 1889 and awarded a Bronze Medal, is exhibited at the museum along with its original award document. Another painting worthy of mention is Naile Hanım’s portrait by Osman Hamdi Bey, a definite highlight of the exhibition with its gold ornate background, which hints at the societal structure of the era through Osman Hamdi Bey’s usage of gilding common to Byzantine icons. Another notable feature artwork of the exhibition is Taksim Square by Nazmi Ziya Güran, which portrays the improved living standards brought to the people by the Republic and successfully embodies the freedom brought to Turkish women.
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