The Selimiye Barracks, now used as the headquarters of the First Army and the Istanbul Garrison Command, was built between 1800 and 1806, during the reign of the Sultan Selim III who established a new army (Nizam-ı Cedid army). Originally the basement and the ground floor were of stone, the other floors were of wood. Modernization movements attracted the reaction of some sections, especially the Jannisaries, and Selim III withdrew from the throne on 29 May 1807 during the Kabakçı Mustafa rebellion. On the same day the Janissaries sent Sultan Mustafa III to the throne and the new army "Nizam-i Cedit" was suppressed on 1st june 1807. The 14-month reign of Mustafa IV ended on 28 July 1808 and Sultan Mahmut II took power. He named Alemdar Mustapha Pasha as Grand Vizier. On 14 October 1808, it was declared that a new modern army called Sekban-i Cedid was created. Restoring Nizam-i Cedid's army (even with a different name like Sekban-i Cedid), attempting to detect corruption in the Janizary troops by the Grand Vizier Alemdar Mustapha Pasha was enough to win the hostility of the Jannisarians towards him . Finally a Janissary uprising called "Alemdar vakası" (Alemdars's event) took place between 15-18 november 1808. In the first day of the uprising the rebels attacked the office of Alemdar Mustapha Pasha and set the Sublime Porte on fire. Likewise, they attacked the Selimiye Barracks where the Sekban-i Cedit soldiers resided and burned the wooden barracks.

Although the Janissaries drew such a strong image in the early years of the Sultan Mahmoud II, in subsequent years the Sultan's power was increased and he decided to annihilate the Janissaries. This project, which had occupied its head for 17 years, was carried out on 25 May 1825. Mahmoud II formally declared the formation of a new military unit (Eşkinci ocağı). Now it was necessary a barracks for these soldiers. The barracks of Selimiye burnt in 1808 were in ruins. These old ruined buildings were demolished and one started to build a new stone barracks  in 1825. The new army, dressed in European style uniforms, began exercising on 11 June 1826. 3 days after, the janissaries revolted again. The barracks of the Janissaries are bombarded. More than 6,000 Janissaries were killed. With this operation, which took place on 16 june 1826, and named "Vaka-i Hayriye" (Good Event), the Janissaries disappeared from the history. During the uprising of the Janissaries, the new modern army (Sekban-i Cedid), was abolished and in its place was formed another army called "Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhamediye" (Mahomed's victorious soldiers). The construction of the barracks of Selimiye was completed in 1827. In reality the construction of the barracks lasted longer. The various inscriptions on its 4 doors show that the work continued under the reign of Sultan Abdulmejid (1839-1861). The inscription on the south door of the building bears the date 1827, the inscriptions on the east and west doors bear the date 1842, and the inscription on the main door bears the date 1850. It is known that the towers at the corners were built during the reign of Abdulmecid. It is said that the architect of the barracks under the reigns of Selim III, Mahmud II and Abdulmejid is Krikor Balyan but there is no document that attests it.

Selimiye barracks seen from the Marmara sea
Selimiye barracks seen from the Marmara sea
One ot he four towers of  the Selimiye barracks
Selimiye Barracks seen from the opposite side
Aerial view of the Selimiye Barracks
Another aerial view 

The Selimiye barracks, which were assigned to British soldiers during the Crimean War, were repaired  at the end of the war. During the reigns of Abdülaziz (1861-1876) and Abdulhamid II (1876-1909) renovation and additions were also continued. After the First World War, it is given to Italian troops occupying Istanbul. After the foundation of Turkish Republic, the barracks are given to immigrants from Greece by exchange and then used as a tobacco depot. It was used as a military school between 1959 and 1962, and after a major renovation in 1963 the barracks were assigned to the First Army and to the Istanbul Garrison Command.

The Selimiye barracks rest on a sloping ground. Depending on the slope of the ground, the number of retaining walls and the number of basement floors in each side is different. The length of the south façade which sees the Sea of Marmara is 267m and the length of the other side is 200 m. The total length of his corridors is 2300 m. It has 228 rooms and 3000 windows. There is a large courtyard in the midst of the rectangular building. Three façades of the barracks contain 3 floors and the east façade has 2 floors due to the slope of the ground. The 4 towers at each corner of the building have 7 storeys anda re 43m high.        H. Von Moltke invited by Sultan Mahmoud II. as advisor to the troops of the Ottoman Empire between 1835-1839 wrote in his memoirs that this giant building was for 10,000 people.


The French soldiers who came to Istanbul for the Crimean war were placed in the Davut Pasha barracks and Taşkışla, while the Selimiye barracks were allocated to the British army. The services and care provided by the Ottoman health organizations remained insufficient for the wounded in the Crimea and for soldiers suffering from cholera, typhus, typhoid, dysentery or scurvy, and the mortality rate was very high among the soldiers. The correspondent William Howard Russel of  the Times newspaper's who follows Crimean War in Istanbul, , wrote about these bad health conditions, and the Times newspaper launches a charity campaign. The British Ministry of defense  decided  to send a health team to Istanbul. A volunteer team of 14 nurses and 24 priestesses under the presidency of Florence Nightingale, who will be known as the founder of modern nursing comes to Istanbul on 4 November 1854 and is placed in the Selimiye barracks. Florence Nightingale and her friends turn a part of the barracks into a hospital. According to a  sketch of that time, the nurses' rooms are located in corridors on both sides of the tower on the side of the Selimiye Mosque. Florence Nightingale's office and bedroom  were in this tower  (Florence Nightingale museum today).

The work of Florence Nightingale and her team has been successful in a short time and the death rates due to infectious diseases have decreased.

Photograph of Florence Nightingale's tower at the Selimiye Barracks at Scutari, Istanbul.
The barracks are seen from the side, with one seven storey tower in the forefront and another visible behind. 
The Selimiye Barracks were used by the British as a military hospital during the Crimean War.
Florence Nightingale, the pioneering nurse, lived in a tower of the barracks whilst working in the hospital.
It is likely that James Robertson, who was living in Istanbul, photographed the tower in 1855
knowing the growing interest the British public had in her work.
(From the collection of Queen Victoria)
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
Miss Nightingale in the Barrack hospital at Scutari
A view of the Barrack-Hospital
Florence Nightingale's daily work at Selimiye military hospital
Hospital ward in Scutari with Florence Nightingale
A scene of medical consultation where we see Florence Nightingale assisting to a physician.
Hospital Kitchen at Scutari Barracks
Florence Nightingale who carried a lamp in her hand while visiting the wounded and sick soldiers at night,
was named "the lady with the lamp" by the soldiers.
The famous statue to the memory of Florence Nightingale is a part of the Crimean War Memorial in London.
The statue represents Florence Nightingale, standing, holding a similar lamp in her right hand.
Florence Nightingale museum London
The Lady with a Lamp is a 1951 British historical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Michael Wilding and 
Felix Aylmer.The film depicts the life of Florence Nightingale and her work with wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War.
In this film we see Florence Nightingale carrying the Turkish lantern or fanoos.
Painted by William Simpson, this picture shows the haphazard nature of providing graves for the fallen. You can see all manner of graves from simple crosses to elaborate stone vaults. You can also see a funeral approaching from the right whilst the gravediggers are obviously muslims praying toward mecca. The hospital can clearly be seen in the background.
Address: Üsküdar, 1. Ordu Komutanlığı, 34668 Selimiye, Üsküdar
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