Armenian wealth was seized in 1915 by the Young Turk government. In addition to the slaughter and expulsion of more than 1,5 million souls, wiping out the Armenians from their 4000‐year old homeland, the Turkish government stole Armenian assets, seized Armenian property, and destroyed Armenian historical monuments. According to Dickran Kouymjian «collectively these actions represent an enormous illegal transfer of individual and community wealth from the Armenian to the Turkish and Kurdish population through a carefully planned crime.»
The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his defence of the project of building a new shopping centre and luxury apartments at the place of Gezi Park in Istanbul, said something symbolic: the reconstruction plans, which supposedly would resurrect the architecture of an old military barracks based on the architecture of a 19th century Ottoman building, would amount to “respecting history.”
History is a sensitive question in Turkey, even controversial, and it has done much to forget its own history. So it’s surprising to see such a fierce struggle now being waged in its name. Amid the host of media reports, documentaries etc, only a very few recalled that the park had a history. The Prime Minister could have remembered, for example, that the architect of the original barracks built in 1806 was Krikor Balian, an Armenian belonging to a famous family of architects who were in the service of the Sultans.
To mention the architect of the old artillery barrack that Erdogan is aiming to re-construct is not a secondary issue. It is the part of Turkish and Ottoman history that modern Turkish politicians have invested enormous efforts to erase and forget: the participation of religious minorities, such as Greeks, Assyrians, Jews, but especially Armenians, in the country’s cultural, economic and political life.
History is a sensitive question in Turkey, even controversial, and it has done much to forget its own history, says Vicken Cheterian.
The Balyan family (Armenian: Պալեաններ) was a dynasty of famous Ottoman imperial architects. They were 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.
Until the 17th century, architects serving in the Ottoman Empire were either Muslim or converted to Islam later in life. Most probably as a result of the reform movement,[specify] architects from non-Muslim minorities gained popularity, and among them the Western-educated Balyan family has a distinct place in the history of the empire’s architecture. But in historical resources, it is debated that their architectural identity may sometimes be confused with contractor or project administrator. It is difficult to define who among the family members was an “architect,” “contractor” or “administrator.”
The Balyans 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 Dolmabahçe 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.
Çankaya Köşkü (Çankaya Villa) is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Turkey. It is located in the Çankaya district of Ankara, which lends its name to the palace. The name is sometimes used as a metonymy for the current president.
Until the Armenian Genocide, the land the Çankaya Villa now stands on was a vineyard belonging to a wealthy Armenian jeweller and merchant named Ohannes Kasabian. After the Kasabian family escaped to Ankara and settled in Constantinople, the vineyard house was taken over and occupied by the Bulgurluzâde family. When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who would become the first President of the Republic of Turkey, saw the building in 1921, he took such a strong liking to it that he purchased it from Bulgurluzâde Tevfik Efendi for 4,500 Turkish lira.
When he had arrived in Ankara in 1919, Atatürk had originally settled in the Ankara School of Agriculture. Following his election as the speaker of the Grand National Assembly on 23 April 1920, he moved to a stone-built house at the railway station which used to be the Chef de Gare’s lodge, known as the “Direction House”. In early June 1921, Atatürk settled in the vineyard lodge, which, after some minor repairs, became known as the “Çankaya Villa”.
The Çankaya Presidential Compound stretches over 438 acres (1.77 km2) of land with its unique place in the history of the Turkish Republic. The Çankaya compound houses Atatürk’s Museum Villa, the Pink Villa, the office of the Chief Aide-de-Camp, the Glass Villa and new office buildings including the State Supervision Council, reception halls and a press conference hall. There are also sports facilities, a fire brigade station, a greenhouse as well as the barracks of the Presidential Guard.
Pembe Köşk (Pink Villa) is an Ottoman-era house in the Çankaya district of Ankara, Turkey, which is the city’s oldest villa and was the home of Turkish President İsmet İnönü from 1925 to 1973.
İnönü purchased the villa in 1924 and it was used for strategic meetings by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as well as concerts, gallery openings, pool and chess tournaments and the city’s first ball, on February 22, 1927.
The building now houses a museum of İnönü’s personal belongings and diplomatic photographs which is occasionally opened to the public.
Ankara Palas is a historical building, which is used as an official state guest house in the capital Ankara, Turkey. Initially designed as the Ministry of Health building, it was used as a hotel for the members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey following the completion of its construction in 1928.
The building in the style of First Turkish National Architecture was designed in 1924 by architect Mehmet Vedat Tek (1873-1942), a notable Turkish architect, who has been one of the leading figures of the First Turkish National Architectural Movement. However, since he did not continue with the construction, Mimar Kemaleddin Bey (1870-1927) took over. He died on July 13, 1927 at the building site. The building was completed in 1928.
It is located in Ulus district across the historical building of the first Grand National Assembly (today War of Independence Museum). The symmetrical two-story, pitched-roof building with a domed central entrance way flanked by twin towers demonstrates characteristics of the First Turkish national architectural movement (Turkish: Birinci Milli Mimari Akımı). The building was completely restored in 1983 as a 60-room state guesthouse with reception, dining room, banquet jall and tea loumge.
Being of Cretan Turkish origin, he was born in Istanbul to the governor of Baghdad Province Giritli Sırrı Pasha and composer Leyla Saz as their second son. His older brother was Yusuf Razi Bel (1870–1947), who later became an engineer.
The Cretan Turks (Greek: Τουρκοκρητικοί, Tourkokritikoi, Turkish: Giritli, Girit Türkleri, or Giritli Türkler), Muslim-Cretans or Cretan Muslims were the Muslim inhabitants of Crete (until 1923) and now their descendants, who settled principally in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, as well as in the larger Turkish diaspora.
Most Cretan Muslims were local Greeks whose ancestors had converted to Islam in the wake of the Ottoman conquest of Crete. This high rate of local conversions to Islam was similar to that in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, and Bulgaria; perhaps even a uniquely high rate of conversions rather than immigrants.
They continued to speak Cretan Greek, but the Christian population called them “Turks” as a synonym for “Muslim”. They were often called “Turkocretans”; “among the Christian population, intermarriage and conversion to Islam produced a group of people called Turkocretans; ethnically Cretan but converted (or feigning conversion) to Islam for various practical reasons. European travellers’ accounts note that the ‘Turks’ of Crete were mostly not of Turkic origin, but were Cretan converts from Orthodoxy.”
Sectarian violence during the 19th century caused many to leave Crete, especially during the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, and after autonomous Crete’s unilateral declaration of union with Greece rule in 1908. Finally, after the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922 and the Turkish War of Independence, the remaining Muslims of Crete were compulsorily exchanged for the Greek Christians of Anatolia under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923).
At all periods, most Cretan Muslims were Greek-speaking, but the language of administration and the prestige language for the Muslim urban upper classes was Ottoman Turkish. In the folk tradition, however, Greek was used to express Muslims’ “Islamic–often Bektashi–sensibility”. Under the Ottoman Empire, many Cretan Turks attained prominent positions.
Those who left Crete in the late 19th and early 20th centuries settled largely along Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coast; other waves of refugees settled in Syrian cities like Damascus, Aleppo, and Al Hamidiyah; in Tripoli, Lebanon; Haifa, Israel; Alexandria and Tanta in Egypt.
While some of these peoples have integrated themselves with the populations around them over the course of the 20th century, the majority of them still live in a tightly knit communities preserving their unique culture, traditions, Cretan Greek dialect and Turkish language. In fact many of them made reunion visits to distant relatives in Lebanon, in Crete and even other parts of Greece where some of the cousins may still share the family name but follow a different religion.
Although most Cretan Turks are Sunni Muslims, Islam in Crete during the Ottoman rule was deeply influenced by the Bektashi Sufi order, as it has been the case in some parts of the Balkans. This influence went far beyond the actual numbers of Bektashis present in Crete and it contributed to the shaping of the literary output, folk Islam, and a tradition of inter-religious tolerance.