Ottoman Athens

Ottoman period and the destruction of Parthenon 

1456-1687

It must be noted that Athens did not have effective defence system, only Latins made some efforts and built Rizokastro Wall.

So, shortly after the fall on Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, on July 1456, the Athens’ administration peacefully passed to the Ottomans from the Latins, and the Abbot of Kaisariani monastery was the mediator according to information of French doctor Jacob Spon (1675). Special privileges of Mehmed the Conqueror that were granted to Athenians, free religion and autonomy, guaranteed the fast redevelopment of the city. In 1466 Athens was plundered by Venetians (during wars 1463-1479). So the city was becoming more Ottoman outside and Christian Orthodox inside.
So peace didn’t persist for unprotected Athens for long, since the First Ottoman–Venetian War broke out between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire from 1463 to 1479. In April 1466, Venetian Vettore Cappello sailed into the Saronic Gulf. On 12 July, Cappello landed at Piraeus, and marched against Athens. Greeks were united with him and sieged Patras. Unfortunately they were defeated and Euboea was captured by Ottomans 3 years later. Consequently, Ottomans had different views of managing regions, so Attica belonged to Euboea after 1470.

After 1640 there were some teachers activated in the city of Athens. Fetihie Mosque, was built in Athens as a memoir of  Mehmed the Conqueror visit to the city, built over the most historical byzantine church of Agioi Apostoloi. During the brief occupation of the city by the Venetian forces in the Morean War (October 1687 – May 1688), the Fetihie mosque was converted by the Venetians into a Catholic church, dedicated to Dionysius the Areopagite, the first Christian believer in Athens.
Acropolis became a fortress during all Ottoman period. Free space on the rock was used for housing of the guards men, and Propylaia was the house of the Ottoman guard’s head. Parthenon was turned into a mosque and a minaret was built.

Venetian occupation of 1687-1690 

Venice remained in war with Ottoman Empire for the control of Aegean Sea trade. During the 6th War between them, Morozini’s campaign destroyed Parthenon. Actually Morozini was welcomed by Christian population and muslims were hidden in Acropolis. After Parthenon was bombed on September 26th 1687, by a kind of irony, the minaret added by the Turks remained untouched by the explosion. The Greeks did not regain what was left of the Acropolis until the 1821 War of Independence.
Athenians left for Saronikos’ islands and Athens was empty for three years, knowing the revenge of the Turks. After Ottomans gained the city again, they built a new wall (Ypapantis Wall). In 1691 the Ottomans gave back their fortunes in order life to return to Athens.

 

Athens in 18th century 

Nevertheless, after monasteries, even if since 1640 the first schools started to exist in Athens in 1720 a new appeared from a monk next to Agora. In 1750 another school opened, the School of Ioannou Deka, supported by monasteries around Athens (between Aiolou and Evaggelistrias streets, on Mitropoleos). It was the time of Grand Tour and foreigner start to wonder around Classic Athens, or what it remained of it.
Ioannis Mpenizelos, (app. 1735-1807) writer of history of Athens, was a notable person of Athenian society. He studied in the first school and taught in the second. He came in contact with French Montmorency (1788) and with the British Jown Hawkins, whom hosted at his place for 40 days in 1796) he is the main source for that period of Athens. Mpenizelos house is the best house you can visit for that period as well.
Another famous building of Ottoman Athens is built in 1759 from Tzistarakis. It is said that the 17th pillar from Olympian Zeus temple was blown up in 1759 in order to build the mosque. It could have been also a pillar from Hadrian’s library nearby. But superstitions claim that Athenians believed there was an ancient curse, something that was confirmed by a sudden desease in Athens, just like Kyloneion Agos…. According to the urban legend, Zeus was mourning that nobody slept that night in Athens. City was peaceful again after the murder of voevoda (Ottoman mayor).

 

Haseki Wall remains today, under Acropolis

Athens after 1760 – towards the Greek War of Independence 

In Athens there were 3 markets, down Pazar, upper (Plaka) and Grain Market. Athens had 35 churches, 1930 families, ¾ of the population were Christians, 3500 people were the Muslims and few cappucini monks and westerners.
Athens after 1760 could be rented to the person who offered more money to the Sultan for lifetime. When that person died, the malikiane status was returning to Sultan and he was making a new bid. Athens passed to Hasekis, and he marked this period of Athens history, by building a new wall. In 1768 there was a Russian Turkish War and Christians were untided this time under Russians.
In 1775 Hasekis rented Athens for twenty years, of violence, taxes and anarchy. His famous wall, built in 1778 within 3 months. For building the wall Hasekis demolished Artemis Agrotera temple, Ilyssus Bridge and more. The wall was protecting Athens from Albanians, that had been to Attica and raiding. At that period, Athenians moved to Salamis for 13 days, until Albanians departed.
Albanians stayed in Peloponnesus till 1779 that were slaughtered from father of Theodoros Kolokotronis, Konstantinos. Theodoros was just 10 years old. Few years later, he would be the main hero of Greek Independence War, memoirs from when you can find at National History Museum today. An Ottoman cemetery is also believed to exist at modern hill of Tourkovounia (Turk mountains), this is where it took its name from.

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