Uskudar Ahmediye Complex & Its Place in the Architecture of the Tulip PeriodSeda Coşkun
After the Treaty of Passarowitz was signed in 1718 under Ahmed III’s rule, the Ottoman Empire entered a long period of peace with the West, and subsequently, first envoys were sent to Europe. To this end, Yirmisekiz (twenty-eight) Mehmet Çelebi was sent to France as the first Ottoman envoy. The palace and garden plans brought by Mehmet Çelebi from France caught the attention of Sultan Ahmed III and Grand Vizier Nevşehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasha. For this reason, during the reign of Ahmed III, both the sultan and dignitaries commissioned a large number of buildings, especially in Istanbul. Between the years 1718 and 1730, the so-called Tulip Era, many pavilions, kiosks, palaces, fountains, libraries, and medium-sized complexes were built. Ahmediye Complex, built in 1722, is one of the most important medium-sized complexes of this period. Overall, this complex bears the characteristics of Classical Ottoman architecture. However, in some parts of the complex, practices reflecting East-West synthesis are also seen. From this perspective, the Ahmediye Complex is also a structure of the transition period.
Üsküdar Ahmediye Külliyesi ve Lale Devri Mimarisi İçindeki YeriSeda Coşkun
III. Ahmet döneminde 1718 yılında imzalanan Pasarofça Antlaşması’ndan sonra Batı ile uzun süreli barış devrine girilmiştir ve ilk elçiler Avrupa’ya yollanmıştır. Bu amaçla Yirmisekiz Mehmet Çelebi ilk Osmanlı elçisi olarak Fransa’ya gönderilmiştir. Yirmisekiz Mehmet Çelebi’nin Fransa seyahatinden getirdiği saray ve bahçe planları ile sefaretname Padişah III. Ahmet ve Sadrazam Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Paşa’nın dikkatini çekmiştir. Bu sebeple III. Ahmet döneminde hem sultan hem de devlet ricali tarafından özelikle İstanbul’da çok sayıda imar faaliyeti gerçekleştirilmiştir. Lale Devri olarak adlandırılan 1718-1730 yılları arasındaki dönemde kasırlar, köşkler, saraylar, çeşmeler, sebiller, kütüphaneler ve orta ölçekli külliyeler yapılmıştır. 1722 yılında yaptırılan Ahmediye Külliyesi de dönemin en önemli orta ölçekli komplekslerinden biridir. Bu külliye genel olarak Klasik Osmanlı mimarisi özelliklerine sahiptir. Ancak kompleksin bazı bölümlerinde Doğu-Batı sentezi uygulamalar da görülmektedir. Bu açıdan bakıldığında Ahmediye Külliyesi aynı zamanda bir geçiş dönemi yapısıdır.
First thirty years of the 18th century was a milestone for the Ottoman society, culture, and architecture because when the Treaty of Passarowitz was signed, a long period of peace started between the Ottoman and Western civilization. Besides, the superiority of Western societies was accepted by the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, the first envoys were sent to Europe. Yirmisekiz (twenty-eight) Mehmet Çelebi is the first envoy sent to France. Mehmet Çelebi observed a lot of palaces, gardens, cities, military postures, press housings in France, and on his return to the homeland, he brought with him the plans of these structures in his travel guide. He even had the plans of some important French palaces and gardens. When Sultan Ahmed III and his Grand Vizier Damat Ibrahim Pasha read this travel guide, they were impressed a lot. Therefore, they immediately commissioned public works in Istanbul. For this reason, new palaces, kiosks, pavilions, medium-sized complexes, a lot of fountains, and sebils (Sebil is a public donation, for the distribution of cold drinking water, sweet drinks or fruit juice to passers-by in cups) were started to be built. Instead of grand mosques and social complexes of the 16th and 17th century’s Ottoman architecture, in 1718-1730, the so-called Tulip Era, public structures were built. Until the end of the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire’s economy was in good condition. However, in the 17th century, it entered a recession. Therefore, only medium-sized complexes, a lot of fountains, kiosks, and summer palaces could be built in the first thirty years of the 18th century. Uskudar Ahmediye Complex, built in 1722 or during the Tulip Era, was one of these buildings. Eminzade Haci Ahmed Aga, a chamberlain of the navy yard in the Ottoman Empire, commissioned Ahmediye Complex. Uskudar Ahmediye Complex consists of a mosque, primary school (Islamic monastery), madrasah, library, two fountains, WC, tomb, burial area reserved for special people, and a room to show azan times. These units are located around a court. The court has a small pond, as well. If we look at the location plan, we can see that the Uskudar Ahmediye Complex has an asymmetrical composition. Buildings of the complex are built according to specific geometrical shapes like square, octagon, and polygon. Almost all the buildings are covered by domes. In addition to this, vaults are used in some places, as well. Although Uskudar Ahmediye Complex generally shows classical Ottoman architecture features, some parts exhibit Western and Eastern styles. For instance, the sebil has a polygonal plan like Early Baroque style. Besides, Uskudar Ahmediye fountain and minbar of the mosque have some flower motifs from Eastern cultures. Also, the Ahmediye fountain and the sebils have multifoil arches coming from the Antiquity and Early East culture. We know that Uskudar Ahmediye Complex have neither entirely Western nor Eastern architecture features. It is a classical Ottoman architecture example but, in some parts of this complex, the reflections of the Eastern and Western architectures can be seen. Indeed, the first thirty years of the 18th century were a transition period for the Ottoman architecture. During the first thirty years of the 18th century, there was the Baroque and Rococo style in Europe. Notably, the Baroque style was the most prominent style in France during Louis IV’ time, which is famous for the palaces built. The exterior facades of these palaces are generally plain, but the interior design is more elaborate. In the decorations, which bears traces of the Baroque style, is seen botanical patterns like leaf Frisians, seashells, and flyaway figures. After the Baroque style, the Rococo style, which was a decorative art, emerged in Louis V’s period in France. The number of columns and pilasters, which had been used as exterior architecture, had decreased. The rococo style includes S and C crimped branches, toothed medallion, seashells, and acanthus leaves. Versailles Palace is the most notable example of Baroque and Rococo style in France. The baroque and rococo styles did not enter in the Ottoman Architecture until after the transition period called the Tulip Era, which began in 1718 and continued until 1730. Indeed, it could be said that the effects of this era can be seen in the Ottoman architecture until 1740. The Tulip Era brought some novelties (such as wide eaves and more decorations) to the Ottoman architecture. These new decorations were from Persian and especially Indian and Mughal cultures. Another novelty was polygonal buildings which were generally seen at the sebils of this period. This was coming from the West and called the Early Baroque style. Although some parts of Uskudar Ahmediye Complex reflects Eastern and Western architectures, the architectural elements and details of the buildings in the complex are traditional. In other words, the buildings in the complex generally have Classical Ottoman architecture features. Also, some details and decorative motifs of the complex are from the Eastern and Western architectures. In conclusion, Uskudar Ahmediye Complex is a building that displays the features of the transition period from the classical Ottoman architecture to the Baroque style.