Istanbul Modern's 2010 exhibition “Armenian Architects of Istanbul” featuring photos of architectural structures made by Armenian architects during the rule of the Ottoman Empire, can now be seen online on the Turkish Museum of Architecture's website, Today’s Zaman reported.
A joint effort between the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency, the International Hrant Dink Foundation and the Solidarity Association of Architects and Engineers (HAYCAR), the exhibition was on display at the Istanbul Modern from Dec. 9, 2010, to Jan. 9, 2011, as part of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture program.
Now, art lovers who missed the exhibition can visit the virtual museum to have a look -- www.archmuseum.org in English and www.mimarlikmuzesi.org in Turkish. The show is on the website under the heading “Armenian Architects of Istanbul in the Era of Westernization.”
Curated by architect Hasan Kuruyazici, the exhibition highlights the role of Armenian architects in shaping Ottoman Istanbul during a Westernization process that took place from the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Photos of more than 100 buildings by 40 Armenian architects, from churches to mosques and hospitals to municipal buildings, are being showcased.
The architecture of Istanbul would be unimaginable without the Balian family - a dynasty of famous Ottoman imperial architects of Armenian ethnicity.
For five generations in the 18th and 19th centuries, they designed and constructed numerous major buildings, including palaces, kiosks, mosques, churches and various public buildings, mostly in Istanbul. The nine well-known members of the family served six sultans in the course of almost a century and were responsible for the westernization of the architecture of the then-capital city.
The Balians used Western architectural techniques and designs; they did not, however, disregard traditional Ottoman elements. The most important and largest construction built by members of the family was Dolmabahce Palace, which is considered to be one of the world's finest palaces of the 19th century.
Most of their buildings are still in use and registered as historical monuments.
Another illustrious architect of Istanbul was Mimar Sinan (15 April 1489 - 17 July 1588) the chief Armenian Ottoman architect and civil engineer for sultans Suleiman I, Selim II, and Murad III. He was, during a period of fifty years, responsible for the construction or the supervision of every major building in the Ottoman Empire. More than three hundred structures are credited to his name. He is also considered one of the world's first earthquake engineers.
Sinan’s masterpiece is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, although his most famous work is the Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul. He headed an extensive governmental department and trained many assistants who, in turn, distinguished themselves, including Sedefkar Mehmed Agha, architect of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. He is considered the greatest architect of the classical period of Ottoman architecture, and has been compared to Michelangelo, his contemporary in the West.