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  • the summerhouse of the tortoise trainer

    The seaside manor of renowned Turkish painter, museum operator and archeologist Osman Hamdi Bey, well-known by all art lovers by his painting ‘Tortoise Trainer’,where he stayed in the summers for 26 years, is one of the most important historical locations of Kocaeli. Hamdi Bey, restored and used as a museum by Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality is on the coast of Eskihisar, 5 kilometers away from Gebze. If you like, let us first get acquainted with Osman Hamdi Bey, who gave his name to this beautiful structure.He was born in Istanbul in 1842. His father was Grand Vizier of the period, İbrahim Ethem Pasha. He completed his primary education in Istanbul Beşiktaş. He completed his secondary education Maarif-i Adliye, which is a high school providing law education. He continued his law education in Paris and returned to Turkey in 1864. After returning from Paris, he started to work in Baghdad Province Foreign Affairs Directorate. Later he returned to Istanbul and was appointed to the duty of Court Protocol Vice Directorship.

    He worked in various high level bureaucratic duties and was charged with the Court Museum (Müze-i Hümayun) Directorship in 1881. Osman Hamdi Bey made quite important and valuable contributions to Turkish Museum Studies. He ensured that museum studies was shaped and developed according to rules and implementations of modern museum studies and also lead the way for the issuance of Asar-ı Atika Nizamnamesi, which means Ancient Artifacts Regulations in 1884, which ensured that our heritage, which was not sufficiently owned and was continuously snatched to foreign countries by foreigners in the Ottoman State era, was protected and remained in our country. While he ensured formation of foundation of Turkish museum Studies, on the other hand, he made great contributions to the establishment of School of Fine Arts. He even worked as the director of the school for a time. Alongside his close interest in archeology, he was also quite interested in painting and creates distinct works.He contributed to the development of Turkish painting with his works. His works are included in many museums and collections. Most of his works were created with the eastern understanding. He lead the Turkish painting with many of his figures. He started the first archeological excavation efforts in the Ottoman administration era and he led many excavation efforts personally. He especially played a central role in historical excavations of Lagina Temple, Nemrut Mountain and Sayda. He struggled very much for display of the artifacts found in Sayda Excavations and for this purpose, he ensured the opening of Istanbul Archeology Museum of today in 1891 and display of the discoveries in this museum. Osman Hamdi Bey Museum is in the west of the part of Eskihisar town which is considered its center, in a place in parallel with the coast. The land containing the wooden building is in parallel with the coast;its garden is full of trees and on a hill climbing up to north.

    In the Ottoman State era, Gebze and villages in the vicinity were among favorite places visited and stayed in summer months, especially by high level members of the administration. Father of Osman Hamdi Bey also had a mansion in Eskihisar village. From 1884 onwards, Osman Hamdi Bey spent nearly all of his summers in Eskihisar village of the day. After working in various duties abroad,Osman Hamdi Bey returned to Turkey, built his manor,painting workshop, boathouse and outhouse to western coast of the village in 1884 and spent summers there for the next 26 years. The manor was allocated to headquarters commanders in World War I. İsmet İnönü and Atatürk stayed in this manor at various stages of the War of Independence.Atatürk visited the manor and its garden once more in 1933. The wooden top şoor burned down in 1945, as a result of the fire that broke out in the painting workshop. Later on, what happened to all other historical places also happened to the manor of Osman Hamdi Bey and it was abandoned to its fate. However, in 1966, the manor,outhouse and its grove were registered and appropriated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, works for the arranging and returning it to its original state were planned by Ministry of Culture Old Structures and Museum General Directorate, but the works could only begin in 1985.The works continued for about two years and the manor and its additional buildings were brought to their current state. In the museum, personal effects and family photos of Osman Hamdi Bey and some remaining works of him from his painting studies were exhibited. However, the manor once more suffered considerable damage in the Marmara Earthquake that occurred in 1999. The manor,which stood in a derelict condition until its transfer to Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality, was restored to its current state as a result of the efforts of Metropolitan Municipality and was opened once more a museum for art lovers.

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