HISTOIRE DE L'ART / ART HISTORY
Organisation du 10e CONGRES INTERNATIONAL D'ART TURC
In the 19th century a new administrative centre emerged extra muros westward of the Damascene historical city centre, which differed functionally, structurally and artistically from the local building tradition. It is generally assumed that this modernization of the character of the Damascene city amounted to an europeanization. The aim of the paper is first to elucidate that it is not an immediate influence from Europe but an "osmanisation" of the architecture, and secondly that the development of a new administrative city centre as such is an expression of the Ottoman will for reform.
The Tanzîmat, which reformed, among other things, the administrative structures of the Ottoman empire, obviously changed the structures of Damascus as the capital city of the vilâyet of Syria. Particularly since the 1860's, the Ottoman city, with new fashioned administrative buildings developed around the Marga square. The architecture of these buildings differed clearly from traditional buildings. Unmistakably, Ottoman buildings, especially Anatolian konaks, served as models. Particularly from the 19th century onwards Ottoman perception of European art was copied.
The transformation of Damascene architecture was not limited to official buildings only, but also influenced private life. With the city houses, the real gem of Damascene architecture, one can grasp the developmental process from local building tradition to imperial style. The interior decoration and the design of the façade changed in such a way that the Damascenes themselves called those building units Istanbûlî (in the manner of Istanbul).
The centralisation of the Ottoman state bound Damascus more to Istanbul than ever before. In the 19th century all domains of architecture were orientated towards Istanbul, so that we can speak of an osmanisation of the general character of the Damascene city.