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Kirkor Amira Balyan (1764-1831)

Kirkor Amira was the son of Bali Kalfa and the father of Garabed Amira. He was the first to use the surname Balyan. He married Soghome, daughter of Minas Kalfa and his daughter married Ohannes Kalfa. He had six children: Garabed, Sofia, Hovhannes, Lusia, a girl whose name was unknown and Khachadur. Kirkor was appointed imperial architect by a ferman of Sultan Selim III (r: 1789-1807) and held this post until 1807, serving subsequently under the Sultan Mustafa IV (r: 1807-1808) and Mahmud II (r: 1808-1839). Kirkor Kalfa rose to a position of authority in the palace hierarchy and acted as personal advisor to Selim III on some matters. Foreign diplomats and statesmen occasionally approached him to arrange audiences with the Sultan. Two years after the accession of Mahmud II, the sultan awarded Kirkor certain privileges by a royal patent exempting his children and two servants from some taxes. He was permitted to convert his house into a mansion, to dress in the fashion he wished, to ride on horseback, to grow bread, and to ride in a caique with a double bank of oars.

Kirkor Amira constructed several major public buildings and palaces during the reigns of Sultan Selim III and Mahmud II. He was given responsibility for large projects at a relatively young age, and the most productive period of his career coincides with the reign of Selim III. His portfolio includes six palaces, four kasırs, six barracks, a mosque, two churches, two large reservoirs and two government buildings. The mosque, churches and reservoirs have survived largely in their original state. His barracks are most important of Kirkor Kalfa’s achievements, since they were part of a radical reorganization and modernization program for the army undertaken in the face of fierce opposition by Sultan Selim III and Mahmud II. Kirkor used the same design and site plan for all the barracks, and a very austere neoclassical style. Since the new army was being organized along European lines, it was natural that the buildings to house it should be European in conception too.
He suffered a shock which caused paralysis and died on 15 November 1831.

The list of his important works:

  • Aynalıkavak Kasrı
  • Bağ-ı Ferah
  • Balmumcu Farm and Kiosk
  • Beşiktaş Palace
  • Çağlayan Imperial Summer Palace (Kasr-ı Hümayünu)
  • Imperial Mint Kiosk (Darbhane-i Âmire Köşkü)
  • Davudpaşa Barracks (Kışlası)
  • Defterdarburnu Palace
  • Kumkapı St. Mary’s Armenian Church (Surp Asdvadzadzin)
  • Maltepe Military Hospital (Askerî Hastanesi)
  • Naval College (Mekteb-i Bahriye)
  • Nusretiye Mosque
  • Nusretiye Kasrı
  • Rami Barracks (Kışlası)
  • Selimiye Barracks (Kışlası)
  • Taksim Artillery Barracks (Topçular Kışlası)
  • Topuzlu Reservoir (Bendi) (I. Mahmud Reservoir)
  • Tophane-i Âmire Arabacılar Barracks (Kışlası) (Tophane Müşirriyet Binası)
  • Valide Reservoir (Bendi)
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