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The Place Where Ancestored Turkish Modernisation: Çeşme

Çeşme region is one of the two end points of the Anatolian mainland in the west of Turkey in Izmir province. Other mainland westernmost point is Babakale in Çanakkale province. Babakale is some more in west point from Çeşme, but, of course Turkey’s “ultima thule” in the western direction is Secret Port (Gizli Liman, the most western end point) in Uğurlu village in Imbros Island (or Gökçeada).

By the way, what I’m going to tell you here is that my traveling to Çeşme on October 12th, 2021 and its importance of Turkish (or Ottoman) modernisation in shortly with my photos taken in Çeşme Castle. As I said in my article on titled “The Role of Westerners, Converts and Hasan Pasha The Algerine on The Establishment of Modern Ottoman Military Engineering in the Eighteenth Century” (see:, “great navy defeating to Russians in Çeşme in 1770, had created need to effectively modernisation for the Ottoman navy and also the land army. This was possible through accepting and applying the current (at that time) scientific developments”.

Catastrophe first, innovation later

The fact of the matter is as follows: Cezayirli (The Algerine) Gazi Hasan Pasha who showed great heroism as he always did in the Battle of Çeşme in 1770 and was appointed to the head of the naval administration after this battle, then, encouraged of establishment of a modern engineering school as a first step of rearrangement of the navy and the land army. For this purpose, he reorganized the Shipyard (Tersâne) and asked for a Hendesehâne (the school of geometry, mathematics and geography) to be established in Haliç (Golden Horne) in Istanbul, which trained with Western methods. This school was established in 1775 and some westerners like Baron de Tott, Mr. Kermovan and Campbell Mustafa Ağa provided training for new westerner methods in it. This school got the name of Mühendishâne (The Engineering School, Mühendishâne-yi Hümâyûn) in 1781.

On the other hand, Cezayirli Hasan Pasha was one of the most important statesmen who played the leading role in modernisation activities in the Ottoman Empire. Also, the Battle of Çeşme or the great catastrophe for the Ottoman navy in 1770, contributed to this interesting result. Hasan Pasha had tried to convince the head of navy about the issue of Russian warships sailing to the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, but no one of the navy commanders had believed him. Therefore, the Ottoman navy made another great mistake and anchored Çeşme Cove after the first battle with Russian warships around Khios Island (Sakızadası). Then, the Russians burned almost all the Ottoman navy by way of the fire ships which they sent to narrow Çeşme Cove in the night.

This catastrophe provided that the Ottoman administration certainly understood the importance of Western style analytical and scientific methods, knowledge, military tactics, and intelligence instead of the traditional methods and superstitions. Thus, Hasan Pasha became the head of the navy (Kapudân-ı Deryâ) and first of all, established the Western style military institutions as mentioned above. Mühendishâne and Hendesehâne, which were established by him, are accepted as the origin of Istanbul Technical University, today.

What’s ‘westernization’ in Russian?

I’d like to point out as a note that Russia transferred science and technology from Europe during the reign of Tsar Petro I (reined between 1682 and 1725) through completely imitated the West by taking all kinds of innovations and imitated the scientific institutions easily only about a century before the Battle of Çeşme. “Since they were not as selective as the Ottomans, Russia's adaptation of Western science and technology to its army and institutions was therefore much quicker, more effective, and fast”. It is called “европеизации/evropeyzatsiy (Europeanization)” and “вестернизации/vesternizatsiy (Westernization)” in Russian history.

Perhaps, that’s why we first meet the “butterball” silhouette of Czarina Екатерина/Yekaterina who loyally followed the reforms of Petro I when we are visiting Çeşme Castle, today. Furthermore, Çeşme Castle is a museum today that has more archaeological artifacts inside from Neolithic to Ottoman periods. Also, there are some underwater archaeological parts, such as amphoras in Çeşme Castle Museum.

Article and photographs by LEVENT ELPEN


1- Kaçar, M., Zorlu, T., Barutçu, B., Bir, A., Ceyhan, C.O. and Neftçi, A. (2012, May). İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi ve Mühendislik Tarihimiz. İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi, Maden Fakültesi Jeoloji Mühendisliği Bölümü ve Avrasya Yer Bilimleri Enstitüsü.

2- Черникова, Т. В. (2018, Сентябрь-Октябрь). “Парадоксы Петровской Европеизации”. Новая И Новейшая История. Российская Академия Наук. No 5. DOI: XVIII зрения 10.31857/S013038640001289-5.


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