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The Effects of the Ottoman "Kulliyes" on the Formation and Development of the City in the Historical Context
Dr. Z. Hale Tokay, Mimar Sinan University, Architecture Faculty, Department of Restoration


Turks who began to settle in Anatolia with an increasing density of population after the second half of the 11th century, conquering lands in order to enlarge their territories on the one hand and constructing new buildings in order to assert their existence on the other, created an architectural context which conformed to the nature of the region and to the nature of their own society in a short period of time. Thus as a result of the society's basic needs they constructed buildings having different functions from one another like mainly mosques and religious schools (medrese), Islamic convents (zaviye-tekke), soup- kitchens for the poor (imaret), khans (han), baths (hamam), tombs (turbe), etc... in Anatolia, some of these buildings were taken into consideration as single monuments and sometimes as a whole which would gather buildings having different or close functions in the form of complexes called "kulliye".
Complexes (kulliye) which are formed by the gathering of buildings such as mosques (cami), soup-kitchens for the poor (imaret), religious schools (medrese), primary schools (subyan mektebi), hospitals (darussifa), khans (han), baths (hamam), markets-bazaars (carsi), tombs (turbe), fountains (cesme), etc... in an architectural unity which satisfy numerous needs of the society as social or cultural needs were adequate to the expansion policy of the Ottomans .

Today it is still possible to find the traditional Turkish city's structure with all its characteristics in the small suburbs of Anatolia, whereas in towns getting industrialized and where the population increases rapidly, they almost tend to disappear. The Turkish Anatolian city along with layers of numberless civilizations, the society's nature and its physical appearance is the expression of an entirely Turkish development. The big molecules of the city are districts. The city consists of the limitless spreading of districts forming an anonymous and unpretentious tissue around the religious building .

The construction of a mescid or mosque generally plays the main role in the formation of the district in an Ottoman-Turkish city. People who wanted the city to grow thanks to new neighborhoods rendered this possible by the construction of complexes formed other than the mosque by religious schools, schools, khans, baths, etc...
In Anatolia, in Turkish cities before the Ottoman period, the widespread concept of a kulliye was not developed. The first public buildings that the Seljoukides constructed in Anatolia or made their own were mosques. From the beginning of the 13th century on they were able to construct two buildings at a time and could develop their first kulliye formed by a mosque-religious school, mosque-hospital .
The concept of the kulliye was developed in its full meaning during the Ottomans. In the early years of the Ottoman Empire, the kulliye was formed of buildings taking place in the town, which instead of getting together in the area reserved for the kulliye were placed next to each other and in the form of separate entities. The concept of the kulliye had not reached the level it caught later during the classical Ottoman period. A planified composition appeared partly with the kulliye of Yildirim in Bursa but in its monumental scale with Fatih. Later, it went on with the kulliye of Beyazit the 2nd in Amasya and his buildings in Edirne and reached its full maturity in the classical Ottoman period.
The Ottoman kulliyes have the character of being social centers in the modern meaning of the word encouraging social life. These buildings have played the role of social catalysts not only because they were praying places, education centers or soup-kitchens for the poor but also because other gathering places could develop around them .

The foundation system (vakif) appears mostly in the kulliyes. The institution of the Vakif relying on leaving or giving to the direction of the society the individual property of a person on his own will has been the necessary means in the development of the kulliye's architecture and on the continuation of this foundation . The vakif system played an important role on the development of the Turkish culture and progressively on the growth of city life. This system, has been a real assurance for the future within the general structure of the Ottoman state concerning urbanization.

In the construction of the kulliyes, the ideas of building a welfare institution along with the idea of constructing is dominant. Kulliyes have played a big role in the birth and formation of the Turkish cities .
In the Ottoman State, there existed an individualistic system of construction which relied on the handling of the personal revenues of wealthy people to the society by the vakif with the aim of doing welfare. Thus cities were formed, small settlements transformed into cities with time, existing cities continued their development thanks to new buildings and to several institutions. Most of the time there were several buildings constructed at the same time and kulliyes were formed. They did not only foresee their construction but their liveliness was also taken into consideration.

Within the few centuries where individualistic enterprises have kept their liveliness concerning construction, the main traits of the physical tissue of the Turkish city and suburb, has been drawn by building groups useful to public formed by the product of construction, the development of the cities have always been in this way.
In some cities the core of the districts was formed with a kulliye, whereas in earlier times, in a small settlement area a kulliye quickened the formation of a city.
In the big cities of the Empire such as Bursa, Edirne, Istanbul while districts were growing around small mosques, mescids constructed by the wealthy people of the city, religions leaders and the ulema, or, with time districts were formed around kulliyes and some of them reached our days . Fatih, Davud Pasha, Murad Pasha, Mahmud Pasha, Beyazit, Suleymaniye, Haseki, Sehzadebasi..., etc..., Eski Imaret at Edirne, the neighborhood of Beyazit II kulliye, Muradiye at Bursa, Eski Imaret, Yesil, Yildirim, etc... were districts formed around kulliyes.

In big cities several kulliyes took place, kulliyes in the form of vakif foundations answered to the religious, cultural, social needs of the citizens and commercial buildings related to these foundations determined the most lively part of the cities and the building type in relation to the need.

Ottoman kulliyes have played an important role in the development of the commercial life with its khans and other commercial buildings. The market-bazaar-bedesten which are the other factors in the development of the cities, have been part of the kulliyes or kulliyes were done in commercial centers. In Bursa, the market and hostel of the Orhan Gazi kulliye has formed the core of the city's commercial center, with time several hostels were added to the same area. In Yildirim Beyazid's time, with the bedesten built next to Sultan Orhan mosque and kulliye, this commercial center was even more developed. During Beyazit the 2nd, to the place situated between Orhan mosque and bath a Khan called Koza was built. After the conquest of Istanbul, the construction of kulliyes decreased in Bursa . At the end of 14th c. Bursa, became the most important commercial center in Anatolia.

Kulliyes played an important role concerning the commercial development of Istanbul. The multiple khans in the city belonged either to the kulliyes or were built for them as vakifs. The region developed quite a lot with Mahmud Pasha (1462) and Atik Ali Pasha (1492) built around the city's important commercial center called Bedesten and khans belonging to them. With the construction of the kulliye of Beyazit the 2nd (1501-1506) at Beyazit this region became at the start of the 16th c. one of the most lively and important centers of the city. At the 17th c., the place between the Egyptian Bazaar built as a part of the Eminonu Yeni Valide Kulliye (1597-1663) and the Eminonu Beyazit became a commercial region .

In Istanbul where great numbers of kulliyes took place and where from the 15th c. till the end of the 18th c. the most developed examples took place, it is possible to analyze the role they played in the development and direction of the city.
Kulliyes which played an important role in the building and settlement policy, were built not only in big cities, but also in suburbs, and even in small settlement units. Thus, places where these buildings took place, specially the ones which took place on caravan roads grew and became important centers.

Whereas the ones taking place in the Empire's big cities such as Bursa, Edirne, Istanbul etc..., formed the center of the settlement, generally around kulliyes established in special lodging places on the roads for pilgrimage and caravans counties and cities were born.
As with the growth of the Ottoman Empire, Seljoukid caravans situated on the East and West travel roads and Islamic convents which enrolled services and insured safety to the travelers in the early years of the Ottoman Empire, began to be insufficient, the need for bigger buildings started to be felt. So for the safety and hostage of the travellers, big kulliyes were built. These kulliyes were built in important settlements taking place on halting places, or far from settlement areas or on dangerous pass ways (derbent) which were important for pilgrimage and caravan roads and with time ensured the development of these regions .

The oldest example for such a kulliye was found in Anatolia, in the village of Corum Haci Hamza, called Sinan Pasha (1506). After the construction of the kulliye which was situated on a dangerous pass way, a county was installed to that region .
The kulliyes of Sultan Selim (1569) at Konya- Karapinar and Sokullu Mehmed Pasha (1574) at Hatay-Payas which constitute the most important examples for such types, were plannified according to the needs.

At Karapinar, with the gain in importance of these roads during Selim the 2nd, a big kulliye formed by a mosque, soup-kitchen for the poor, khan, bath, 39 markets and 2 mills were built, its surrounds settled and the new city equipped to answer every kind of need was called "Sultaniye" .

Following the overpopulation of the important harbor Payas, the big center where the army, pilgrimage and commercial caravans passed taking place on the South road's most important pass way, Sokullu Mehmed Pasha built at the 16th c. a big kulliye and after the completion of the kulliye taking place next to the Fortress formed by the caravanserai, mosque, religious school, primary school, soup-kitchen for the poor, hostel, bath and arasta the region's importance grew and Payas became a small city .

Another example is the kulliye constructed in 1726 bearing the name of Damad Ibrahim Pasha who, installing people to the village of Muskara where he was born changed the village into the city of "Nevsehir" .
The Kulliye of Murad II (1443) which is another example for this group at Rumeli, was erected by Murat II, near the river Ergene. Around the kulliye formed by a bridge, soup-kitchen for the poor, hostel, mosque, religious school, bath, markets were settled Turkomans and the county of "Uzunkopru" was formed.

Another example was Sokullu Mehmed Pasha (1569) at Luleburgaz built by Mimar Sinan. Despite the fact that Birgos (Luleburgaz) situated on the caravan road Edirne-Istanbul was already populated, it grew in importance with the construction of the kulliye and was transformed into a big county.

Apart from the examples mentioned above, around these kulliyes, according to the settlement policy of the Ottoman State, these places were populated by people brought here from different places and they were exempt of tax and thus the development of these areas was rendered possible.




We saw the Kulliyes first at Artuks, Menguceks and Anatolian Seljoukides, then they reached their maturity with the central organization of the Ottoman state. Regarding the function and the purpose of construction, these kulliyes were realized with a very advanced and social conception. Nowadays kulliyes have a big role in our cultural heritage because of their historical, artistic and aesthetic value and they are the most important architectural complexes given by the Ottomans to the world's cultural heritage.




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2. Ayverdi, E.H., "Fatih Devri Sonlarinda Istanbul Mahalleleri / Istanbul Districts at the End of the Period of Mehmed the Conqueror", V.D., S:4, 1958.
3. Barkan, O.L., "Osmanli Imparatorlugunda Bir Iskan ve Kolonizasyon Metodu Olarak Vakiflar ve Temlikler I / Foundations and Temlikler Systems as a Method of Inhabiting and Colonization in the Ottoman Empire I", V.D., S:2, Ankara 1942.
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7. Eyice, S., "Istanbul'un Mahalle ve Semt Adlari", Tarih Mecmuasi, 1964.
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14. Tokay, Z.H., Osmanli Kulliyelerinin Temel Ozellikleri ve Gunumuz Ortaminda Degerlendirilmeleri, MSU, FBE, Basilmamis Dr.Tezi, Istanbul 1994.


I would like to thank Ela Gungoren for the translation of the text from Turkish to English.










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