Theatre Buildings of Istanbul in the Tanzimat Era


ABSTRACT The Tanzimat Era is a period during which western style theater began to appear in Ottoman Empire and thus western style theater buildings were constructed. Theater buildings were a new type of building that Ottoman society encountered for the first time, which began to appear in classical Ottoman-Islamic city along with Tanzimat. While the existence and number of theater buildings before Tanzimat remained mysterious even in Pera, the Levantine area of imperial capital city Istanbul, approximately ten new theater buildings were built in various neighborhoods of Istanbul during Tanzimat period and the first decade of the 20th century, during which the influence of Tanzimat still prevailed. Two theater architectures were present in the west in the same period: Façade Theater and monumental theater. In addition to façade theatres which date back to 17th century, monumental theater buildings began to appear in Europe, however they gained their real momentum in the same period that coincides with Tanzimat. When compared to façade theaters which were located in building blocks with an only façade opening to street, monumental theaters turned out to be significant focal points in renewed urban planning of cities. This paper deals with theater buildings that were built in Istanbul during the Tanzimat Era. These buildings were analyzed in two aspects. Firstly, the way these buildings were located in the city, aiming to question the relationship of Istanbul with the urban innovations that occurred in that period. Secondanly, architectural characteristics, forms and social meanings of these theaters as a building type that were alien to Ottoman physical and societal geography and newly introduced to the city.