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The Tsisdarakis Mosque built by Mustafa Ali Tsisdarakis on Monastiraki Square



Athens in the unsettled 18th century


The 18th century is considered to be a period when the local, communal authorities, Muslims and non-Muslims, flourished. In Athens, as in other places, this meant intense conflict over the control of the community. The conflicts involved both Christian religious leaders and the local Ottoman authorities.

In around 1710 Dimitrios Palaiologos, a Christian Orthodox, was appointed voyvoda (governor) for the first time. He was later assassinated by Muslims although powerful members of the Christian community probably also were involved in the killing.

In 1754, Athenian Christians and Muslims rose up in protest against the arbitrariness of the voyvoda Sari Musellem. The uprising was suppressed by troops from Chalkis and, in 1758, Mustafa Ali Tsisdarakis became the new voyvoda. Later he would build the mosque that still carries his name on Monastiraki Square.

TimelineConditions for the Christian population of Athens worsened during the Russian-Ottoman War of 1768-1774 and especially with the campaigns of the Russian admiral Orlov in the Aegean in which a large number of Christians took part. During these operations, Salamis was taken over by armed Christians, which led to a deterioration of Christian-Muslim relationships in Athens since Muslims considered the Christians as potential allies of the Russians.

The years 1775-1795 were marked by the presence of the city’s voyvoda Hadji Ali Haseki. In the beginning he maintained good relationships with the bishopric and the elders of the community. Some time later, however, a large part of the Christian community turned against him followed by the bishopric. With the support of the majority of the Christians, they protested in Constantinople against his heavy taxation. Haseki was replaced for a short time but managed to regain his position in 1788 and keep it until 1791.Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin

His violent policies made times unsettled for many Athenians, some of whom had to abandon the city. Haseki was beheaded in 1795 by order of the Grand Vizier (very powerful position in the Ottoman Empire) and many Athenians returned home again. However, the city’s population had been dramatically reduced because of these conflicts as well as because of outbreaks of plague in 1789 and 1792.

Soon after these events Lord Elgin, TimelineAmbassador of Great Britain in Constantinople, obtained permission from the sultan to remove materials from archaeological monuments in Athens and take them to England. Thus, much of de sculpted decoration of the Acropolis, which today can be seen in the British Museum in London, was stolen. Top


  18th CENTURY

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