Fossati brothers

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Gaspare Fossati's 1852 depiction of the Hagia Sophia, which he and his brother were in charge of renovating. Lithograph by Louis Haghe.

The Fossati brothers, Gaspare (7 October 1809 — 5 September 1883) and Giuseppe (1822-1891), were Swiss-Italian architects. They completed more than 50 projects in Turkey during the Tanzimat era.[1] They belonged to the Morcote branch of the Fossati, a prominent Ticinese family with mentions in the historical record going back to the 14th century.[2]


Consulate (former embassy) of Russia on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul
Consulate (former embassy) of the Netherlands on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul
TGC Press Media Museum in Çemberlitaş, Fatih (former Ottoman Ministry of General Education.

Born in Ticino, they finished primary and middle school in Venice and studied architecture at the Brera Academy in Milan. At the end of 1836, Gaspare was appointed to Istanbul for the project of building in the Russian Embassy.

Between 1841 and 1843, the Fossati brothers built the brick Bab-ı Seraskeri Hospital (Bekirağa Bölüğü) and Liman İskelesi Karakolu in Eminönü for the Ottoman Administration. They were appointed to renovate Arzuodası at Babıali in 1844, and to build important buildings in Sultanahmet such as Dârülfünun (university) (1845-1846), Hazine-i Evrak, and Mekteb-i Sanayi (1846-1848).

In 1847, Sultan Abdülmecid appointed them to renovate the Hagia Sophia. They completed the restoration in two years, utilizing more than eight hundred workers. They were able to document a larger number of Byzantine mosaics whose precise location within the Hagia Sophia today have not been fully documented since many were either painted over or destroyed often without recording their original location. The drawings of the Hagia Sophia mosaics are kept in the Cantonal Archive of Ticino.[3] Sultan Abdülmecid allowed the brothers to also document any mosaics they might discover during this process which were later archived in Swiss libraries.[4]

The Telgrafhane-i Amire building was built by Giuseppe Fossati in 1855. Upon the death of Reşit Paşa in 1858, the Fossati brothers built his mausoleum in the corner of the graveyard in the Bayezit complex.

They built the Church of SS Peter and Paul between 1841 and 1843. They also renovated Venedik Palace (today the house of the Italian Ambassador) in 1853, and the Dutch Embassy in Beyoğlu in 1854. They built the Spanish (1854) and Iranian (1856) embassies in Istanbul. In addition, they built three Italian theaters. One of them was the Naum Theatre, which was built in Galatasaray in 1846, and destroyed by a fire in 1870.

In 1858, the Fossati brothers returned to Switzerland. They built their homes in Morcote in the Turkish style. They are buried in Morcote.

Works in Istanbul[edit]


  1. ^ The Fossati brothers - Turkish Culture Portal
  2. ^ Fossati in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  4. ^ Hagia Sophia. Nova PBS program; originally aired 2/25/2015. [1]

External links[edit]