During the Ottoman period, Turkish architecture embraced a fresh mentality with the modern barracks complexes. Construction on these barracks started in the late 18th century. They were different from the traditional style of military architecture—these barracks were totally unlike the Janissary Chambers—and were initially built as masonry constructions before being constructed from stone. An incredible number of these barracks were spread over the entire country. During Mahmud II’s rule, the Rami Barracks (Asâkir-i Mansûre-i Muhammediye) was one of the most prominent barracks complexes among those built in the new style. Construction on the Rami Barracks started in 1827.
Rami is a large historical district of Eyüp, which is a municipality of Istanbul and was one of the first Ottoman-Turkish settlements. Eyüp is located on the southern coast of the Golden Horn on the western side of the Bosphorus. Since the period of Mehmed II (the Conqueror), quite a lot of villages and neighbourhoods have been established throughout the district situated to the northwest of Eyüp. This region, which was called Rami Paşa Çiftliği (Rami Pasha Farm) at the beginning of the 18th century, was tied to the sub-district Küçükçekmece in the Eyüp neighbourhood under the name of Hamidiye Karye (village). The Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi (1611–1682) noted that the army, which was on a military expedition, stayed in this region and that Topçular Mahallesi (The Gunners Neighbourhood) received its name from the artilleries that completed final preparations for the expedition and from some gun foundries.1 Until the 19th century, the Rami district was under the responsibility of the head gardener (Bostancıbaşı) along with Davutpaşa Palace, Kağıthane, Fenerbahçesi, and Kavak Palace.2 The Rami Barracks were named after Rami Mehmed Pasha’s (1655–1708) farm, which was located in this region. Rami Mehmed Pasha was the head of the chancery (reisü’l-küttab) during Mustafa II’s rule (1695–1703) and later became the grand vizier.3
Historically, the Rami district was significant to the safety of Istanbul; it was the last place for the resistance against occupying forces to gather together. This was particularly true after a loss in Rumeli. The town became known as “the military zone” since the altitude of its surroundings Çiftliği Farmwas very high. Rami Çiftliği (Farm) had broad areas suitable for military trainings and it hosted some other military buildings between Davutpaşa Barracks and Rami Farm. Some precautions were also taken in the walled city of Istanbul, which was settled as military quarters when the aforementioned security and resistance points were disabled.4
After the Auspicious Incident (Vak’a-i Hayriye) took place in Istanbul on 17 June 1826, the Guild of Janissaries were abolished and the Mansure Army (Asâkir-i Mansûre-i Muhammediye) was established. Since the Janissary barracks had been torn down, there was no longer anywhere for the soldiers to take shelter.5 Therefore, among the regiments that served under the “serasker”6—who was chief commander of the new army—two were deployed at the Serasker Door (Bab-ı Seraskeri), three were deployed around Davutpaşa Palace, and another three were deployed to Selimiye in Üsküdar. The Selimiye Barracks7 had to be renovated after insurgents burned it down during the Janissary riot which began in November 1808. The insurgents also burned the Levent Farm and other New Order (Nizam-ı Cedid) buildings located around it during the same riot. Trained troops were soon deployed to Davutpaşa Palace and Rami Farm to revise the existing buildings and build a new military barracks.8
Initially, sthe new military barracks were supposed to be built on land in Eyüp that would be available after the favorite sultan palaces around Kağıthane were destroyed. Those barracks would be allocated to the cavalries of the bombardiers. However, this plan was abandoned and it was determined that the new military barracks would be built around Rami Farm. The historiographer (wak‘a-nüwisvakanuvis) Esad Efendi does not mention the reason for this change, but it could be the fact that Kağıthane was very close to the city centre and its topography was unsuitable for wide training areas and shooting training camps.
After it was settled where the new barracks would be built, Kapıcıbaşı Serficeli Mehmed Ağa was appointed to the Rami Barracks in June 1826 as a construction official. He had worked as a chief bombardier and construction official in Tophane in the past. It is still unknown who designed the barracks. According to information repeatedly found in the existing literature, Mahmud II had Kirkor Amira Balyan (Kirkor Kalfa) start building the barracks in 1827. Construction was completed in 1828. It has been proposed that Kirkor Kalfa was the contractor but not the architect. The architect was possibly Abdülhalim Efendi, the director of imperial buildings (Ebniye-i Hassa).9 In the historical documents regarding Rami Farm Barracks, Abdülhalim Efendi remains in the foreground during the planning process. While construction began—as well as during the subsequent extensive renovation period—he prepared plans for the barracks and made wooden models of them that he then presented to the sultan. The barracks were then constructed under the guidance of construction officials.
After a one and a half year endeavour—including planning and site selection—the barracks were completed in 1828 and its epigraph was ordered by the poet Keçecizade İzzet Molla, who was also the Haramayn inspector.10 Following the completion of construction—and thanks to an offer from the sultan—it was brought up that turning the barracks into a barracks complex would require building a hospital (military hospital), a grain mill, a warehouse, and a bakerys. This type of construction was commonly used to turn various barracks throughout the empire into barracks complexes.scentre Covering an area of approximately 220,000m2, Rami Barracks was the third-largest barracks in Istanbul following the Selimiye and Davutpaşa Barracks. It had an open yard and a rectangular planned area like a square. The front door, which is situated on the side of Talimhane Street, is currently in desolate condition. The right-side corner building is Hünkâr Kasrı, one of the structures of the Sultan Ahmed Complex. The other three corner buildings were assigned to the commanders and officers.
After completing the preparations for a military expedition, Mahmud II went to Topkapı Palace from Beşiktaş Palace, took the Flag of the Prophet (Sancak-ı Şerif) from the Chamber of the Mantle of Felicity (Hırka-ı Saadet) on 15 September 1828, and—on a fabulous parade—set out for Rami Barracks with his cavalry and Enderun landlords.11 Rami Barracks became a military and administrative power after Mahmud II settled down there with his subordinates and Enderun cavalry during the Ottoman-Russian War from 1828–1829. The administration of the state was carried out from there for nearly two years.
With the intention of providing soldiers at the front line of the war with Russia with moral support, the dhikr circles and tawhid gatherings continued with nearly no delay after evening worship under the chairmanship of the Sheayikh of the Sancak-ı Şerif Şakir Efendi and with the participation of the Enderun landlords and the sultan. Mahmud II—who was hoping for news of victory from the Russian front in the spring of 1829—was out regularly hunting with his subordinates and cavalry. Troops ssometimes organized and performed in competitions and manoeuvres on Ayazağa Farm, which belonged to am armorer landlord, and sometimes around Küçükçekmece or Büyükçekmece before returning to the barracks.
After the fall of Varna on 21 September 1828, the Russian reconnaissance team began to appear around the Bosphorus. This situation made the people anxious and so Mahmud II, who could never campaign, decided to go to Tarabya from the Rami Barracks to reduce the people’s anxiety in Istanbul. For nearly three months, Mahmud II stayed at the mansion in Tarabya and kept both military and civil officers alert by inspecting the fortresses around the Bosphorus; those fortresses were meant to prevent Russian troops from coming closer to these regions and entering Istanbul. As the Russian threat in the region dissolved, Mahmud II decided to return to the Rami Barracks with his subordinates. He arrived at the barracks on 10 August 1829.
Besides being a military and administrative power, Rami Barracks is also a showcase for all the innovations Mahmud II made in clothing. The modern military band Mızıka-ı Hümayun (the imperial band of the Ottoman Empire) may also be seen in this context. After Asâkir-i Mansûre-i Muhammediye was established in the summer of 1826, some changes to the uniform were made; the fes (a kind of hat), uniform, and shoes (kalavra) were given to trained soldiers. Even though the Ottoman-Russian War officially ended with the Treaty of Edirne, which was signed on 14 September 1829, Mahmud II did not initially leave the Rami Barracks. During this period, he left the barracks on 16 January 1830 and went to Büyükçekmece by ferry to go hunting and take a rest. After he returned from hunting, he made the village’s people listen to the brass band that accompanied him.
Considering the possibility that war with Russia might break out again and so extending his stay in the barracks to ensure the security of Istanbul, Mahmud II decided to return to Topkapı Palace only after all conditions for the ceasefire were met. After preparations were completed, Sancak-ı Şerif was transferred to Topkapı Palace and put in the Chamber of Hırka-ı Saadet with a great ceremony. This ceremony was held on 25 May 1830 at an auspicious time that was determined by the chief astrologer. The sultan rested for a while. Then he went to Tarabya taking the cavalry and members of the brass band with him. Afterwads, he returned to Topkapı Palace. At this point, Mahmud II left the palace deciding to reject pacifism after the Russian War broke out. He returned to the Rami Barracks and remained there for 617 days with some trips elsewhere. Rami Barracks, the sultan’s residence, was used as the administrative and military power of the state for nearly two years and it became the final military resistance point that reassured Istanbul’s people in the face of a potential Russian occupation.
Due to the Crimean War (1853–1856), the allied British and French soldiers gradually arrived in Istanbul starting in April 1854. They were generally housed in the state buildings. However, soon there were not enough buildings and the allied soldiers had excessive demands and hid their careless attitudes behind exaggerated strategic reasons. This resulted in them being placed in private properties. Among the locations allocated for the allied French soldiers were Davutpaşa, Maltepe (Bayrampaşa), and Rami Barracks.
During the reign of Abdülhamid II (1876–1909), Rami Barracks—which had an active military function—was sometimes evacuated because of epidemic illnesses. It was also sometimes home to soldiers released from other barracks experiencing epidemics. For example, during the harsh cholera epidemic in Istanbul between 1893 and 1894, the soldiers staying at Davutpaşa and Rami Barracks also caught the disease. After everything was finally under control in those two barracks, the epidemic spread to the Münzevi Barracks located around Edirnekapı. The soldiers living there were then transferred to Rami Barracks.12
The region’s population began to increase as statesmen settled around Rami during Abdülhamid II’s reign. The owners of the fields assigned to the statesmen and high officials of the palace by the sultan built many villas. The settlement here began to move to Topçular after a short time period. Following the advice of Shaykheikh al-Islam Üryânizade Esad Efendi, immigrants coming from the Balkans because of the Ottoman-Russian War (93 War) were settled in areas allocated for housing in and around Rami Farm. This is how the residential area that is known today as Rami, Cuma Street was first developed.
After the Armistice of Mudros (30 October 1918), the actual invasion of Istanbul by the allied powers began on 13 November 1918 and the invasion became official on 16 March 1920. The allies divided Istanbul into certain areas and were strategically deployed. The French invaded Rami Barracks and its surroundings. They then placed a division they brought from Algeria in the barracks. At the end of this invasion, many weapons and munitions belonging to the Ottoman army fell into French hands. The National Defence Group (Millî Müdafaa Grubu)—which was composed of patriots who were secretly organized in Istanbul—decided to covertly remove munitions from the Rami Barracks and so procure guns and armoury for the Anatolian resistance. Thanks to the efforts of Topkapılı Cambaz Mehmed—one of the known lions of Istanbul—and his supporters, a large part of the existing guns and armour was sent to Anatolia.
The barracks, which historically constituted the core of the region’s settlement and is today stuck in the city centre, were allocated for the 1st Army Commandership during the Republican Period. The population in the region increased between the years 1940 and 1950 because of the second migration wave from the Balkans. Within the scope of the Rami Industry Plan dating back to 1966–1967, the historical texture of the region was damaged by the increasing number of small-scale industrial enterprises in the region and by unplanned urbanization. The Rami Barracks, the town’s most precious historical building and a first-degree historical monument, was left alone in the middle of this unplanned urbanization. The barracks, which were used for military purposes until 1971, were transferred to the civil administration.
The Rami Barracks and its outhouses were allocated to dry food wholesalers in accordance with a decision taken in the 1980s that conceded authorization to the local administration. Even though the barracks and the surrounding area are specified as “the Rami Culture Centre” with the decision numbered III and dated 21 June 1990, the barrack area is still occupied by the food wholesalers and the limited areas left from this huge building are in extreme negligence and ruin.
1 Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatnâmesi: İstanbul, prepared by Yücel Dağlı and S. Ali Kahraman, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2004, vol. 1/1, p. 354.
2 Mustafa Nuri Paşa, Netâyicü’l-vukūât, prepared by Neşet Çağatay, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1992, vol. 3-4, p. 122; Osman Nuri Ergin, Mecelle-i Umûr-ı Belediyye, Istanbul: İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi Kültür İşleri Daire Başkanlığı, 1995, vol. 2, p. 871.
3 Recep Ahıshalı, “Râmi Mehmed Paşa”, DİA, XXXIV, 449-451; Sadettin Nüzhet, Râmî Paşa Hayatı ve Eserleri, Istanbul: Kanaat Kütüphanesi, 1933.
4 Yüksel Çelik, “Askeri Bir Karargah ve Seraskerlik Merkezi Olarak İstanbul”, Tarih İçinde İstanbul Uluslararası Sempozyumu: Bildiriler, ed.ited by Davut Hut, Zekeriya Kurşun and Ahmet Kavas, Istanbul: MTT İletişim ve Reklam Hizmetleri, 2011, pp. 211-219.
5 Ahmed Cevad, Târîh-i Askerî-i Osmânî, İÜ Ktp., TY, no. 4178, vol. 2/4, pp. 6-7. During the Auspicious Incident, the New Chambers in Aksaray, Istanbul were burned down with artillery shootings and greasy rags; also the Old Chambers were demolished a few days after the guild was repealed. What’s more is that the region where there are the Old Chambers began to be called as Fevziye while the area in which the New Chambers are located were called as Ahmediye. (Ahmed Lutfi, Târih, Istanbul: Matbaa-i Amire, 1290, vol. 1, p. 161; İsmail Hakkı Uzunçarşılı, Kapukulu Ocakları, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1988, vol. 1, pp. 244-245).
6 Yüksel Çelik, “Serasker”, DİA, XXXVI, 547-549.
7 George Oğulukyan’ın Ruznamesi: 1806-1810 İsyanları, III. Selim, IV. Mustafa, II. Mahmud ve Alemdar Mustafa Paşa, translated by H. Andreasyan, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi, 1972, pp. 44-45.
8 Ahmed Cevad, Târih-i Askerî, vol. 2/4, p. 6; Lutfî, Târih, vol. 1, p. 148. The renovation and expansion of Selimiye Barracks was completed in 26 January 1829 and was inaugurated with a ceremony which Hüsrev Pasha attended. (Lutfî, Târih, vol. 2, p. 144). Such kind of renovation were repeated afterwards. (see: BOA, C.AS, no. 37510, 45571; Zuhal Çetiner Doğdu, “Kışla Mimarisi”, Türkler, edited by Hasan Celal Güzel et al., Ankara: Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, 2002, vol. 12, pp. 178-189).
9 Selman Can, “XIX. Yüzyılda Osmanlı Mimarlığının Teşkilat Yapısı ve Balyanlar”, 150. Yılında Dolmabahçe Sarayı Uluslararası Sempozyumu: Bildiriler, ed.ited by Kemal Kahraman, Istanbul: TBMM Milli Saraylar Daire Başkanlığı, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 69-74; Selman Can, “XIX. Yüzyıl Mimarları ve Ermeniler”, TDA, 2007, no. 167, p. 44.
10 BOA, HH, no. 310/18332, 593/29050, 667/32505, 957/41096.
11 Abdülhak Molla, “Târîh-i Livâ, Tahlil ve Tenkitli Metin”, prepared by Mehmet Yıldız, Master’s Thesis, Istanbul University, 1995, pp. 2-3.
12 Mesut Ayar, Osmanlı Devleti’nde Kolera, İstanbul Örneği (1892-1895), Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2007, pp. 186, 370-371.