Historic Buildings

Mansions of Mustafapaşa

The former Greek occupants of Mustafapaşa became rich through trade and were mostly working as merchants in Istanbul. It was well known that Greeks were not masters or craftsmen.  Looking at the magnificent mansions and decor they created upon their return to their towns, it can be said that their tastes may have been strongly influenced by their extensive knowledge of Istanbul.

In a 1924 census, Mustafapaşa was recorded to be home to two carpenters, a builder, a plasterer, two whitewashers and a blacksmith, as detailed in S. Roides’ publication about the houses of Sinasos.  Considering the number of structures and residences in Ürgüp at that time, the number of members of the “Abraham Baba” construction guild in Ürgüp, with around 700 members, is quite high. It is known that almost all the houses in the village were built by these masters. In the same publication, it is said that masters from the Black Sea region also worked in Mustafapaşa, and that some of these people, known as laz, married women from Sinasos and became the part of the community.

Despoina Bougioukmanou-Papandreou, who has been studying the history of Mustafapaşa for many years and is one of the researchers of the project, comes from a Greek family who left the village with the population exchange. The surname of the family into which she married, who settled on the Greek island of Euboea following the population exchange, was Lazopulu (Λαζόπουλου), or Lazoğlu in Turkish, and her family surname and its derivatives were frequently encountered within the scope of our research. She states that her research uncovered information that the Greeks in Mustafapaşa had good relations with the Greeks in Pontus, and that many Greek construction workers came to Mustafapaşa from the Pontus region to work, some of whom settled in the village and started families. Since the Greeks who came from Pontus were referred to as “laz” among the people, their surnames remained as “Lazoğlu”.

It is though that most of the mansions were built by the stone and masonry masters of Ürgüp, based on the similar facades of the houses in Ürgüp and Sinasos. Again, the above statements indicate that along with the stone masters from Ürgüp, the Pontus masters also brought their artistic knowledge and skills to Sinasos. The Greek people of Sinasos, when they wanted to build a house, were known to work with the best masters of the time, and their skills are clearly apparent in the fact that the houses are still standing today.

Although designs of the mansions depended on the master and the environment, we see that the unique characteristics of the mansions was affected by the views of those who order the buildings. The influences of Istanbul that are apparent in the magnificent mansions in the village can be explained by the fact that the Greeks wanted mansions similar to those they had seen in the capital. It can be said that these unique structures emerged as a common product of the Greeks of Sinasos and their employees.

During the studies carried out within the scope of the project, mansions were also identified that had been owned by Muslims. For example, Şenol Mansion, which is located on today’s Baraj Street in a location called “Miskin Mahalle” in the Greeks and which constitutes the majority of Muslim houses in Mustafapaşa. During an interview with Ergüvan Şenol, the owner of the house, it was stated that the house had been built by a Greek master, as a further indication that the Muslim and Greek people who lived together in the Ottoman period drew upon the same sources and created a common heritage.