Istanbul’s oldest high school draws visitors

Istanbul’s oldest high school draws visitors

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul’s oldest high school draws visitors

Historians say the architecture attracts people who would like to discover the architectural characteristics of Istanbul buildings. The Istanbul Lycée building houses many important artifacts. AA photo

Istanbul’s famous school Istanbul Lycee has provided the setting for many TV series and movies for its unique historical and architectural characteristics. The architecture also attracts people who would like to discover the architectural characteristics of Istanbul buildings.

School vice-director Abdullah Mollaoğlu said many academics and many researchers came to the building to look at it and conduct research on the building. Every part of the school is like a museum, he said.

Some parts of the school especially, such as the treasury room and its large door, attract attention, he said. “The door is made in Berlin and it is handmade. The door has a historical significance.”

The school has hosted many famous Turkish TV series such as “Karadayı,” which stars Kenan İmirzalıoğlu (known as Ezel) and Bergüzar Korel. The advertisement directors were also attracted to the building, he added.

History writer Haldun Hürel said the building was a must-see in Istanbul, added Mollaoğlu.

The school was established in the second Abdülhamid era to meet the debts of the Ottoman Empire. The building was designed by French architect Alexandre Vallaury.

HDN Mehmet Nadir Bey: founder of the school

Mehmet Nadir Bey, a retired Captain of the Navy, prominent mathematician and teacher, together with Selanikli Abdi Kamil Efendi, a school principal, founded the first private school in Istanbul in 1882, the Şems’ül Maarif (The Sun of Education), but for unknown reasons the partnership did not last long.

Mehmet Nadir Bey established his own private school Numune-i Terakki in 1884, which would be the foundation of Istanbul Lisesi. At the beginning, the school provided primary and middle school education for boys, but would soon add high school classes, and also start accepting girls. In an interview to a newspaper in 1891, Mehmet Nadir Bey would express his pride at having established the first private high school in Turkey. The school would not only attract many students in a short time (the number of students would reach 600 in 1891, of which 150 were boarding students), but also catch the attention of the Ministry of Education, and of the Sultan himself.

In 1910, the school started to use the word Lise (Lyceum), a first for a Turkish school. Istanbul Lisesi was a five-year boarding school charging tuition, and was admitting students following an examination.

The physical education teacher of the school, Abdurrahman Roberson, established Istanbulspor and a boy scout group in 1912. The scout group, later named Sakarya in honor of the Turkish victory in Battle of Sakarya, is still active to this day. Also in 1912, during the First Balkan War, about 30 students volunteered for the defense of the capital against the advancing Bulgarian army.

The school name was changed to Istanbul Sultanisi (Istanbul High School) in 1913. Following the closing of the foreign schools in Istanbul due to the beginning of the First World War, Istanbul Sultanisi was moved to the buildings of the Saint Benoit High School, and some parts of the buildings were changed to dormitories. The faculty was supported with the addition of prominent teachers, and the student populace exceeded 1600. Subsequent to the increased collaboration between the German and Ottoman Empires, 22 German teachers were sent by the German Ministry to the school, and the curriculum was changed to German. With the declaration of the Republic, the school moved to the Fuat Paşa Mansion in Beyazıt and its name was changed to Istanbul Erkek Lisesi (Istanbul Boys’ High School) in 1923. On Atatürk’s instructions, the school moved to the building of the former Düyun-u Umumiye (Council of Ottoman Revenues and Debts Administration) in 1933.