Born in İstanbul in 1850, Alexandre Vallaury was the son of a renowned pastry cook almost certainly of French extraction. Having studied architecture in Paris, Vallaury returned to İstanbul where he became a lecturer at what is now the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts.

In Paris he had befriended the Ottoman orientalist artist Osman Hamdi Bey, and it was for him that he designed the grand porticoed structure that now houses the İstanbul Archeology Museum.


In 1890 Vallaury designed an unusually two-faced headquarters for the Ottoman Bank in Karaköy on Voyvoda (Bankalar) Caddesi. From the street-facing side it looked conventionally Neoclassical, whilst from the rear it took on a more oriental appearance, echoing the city's cosmopolitan heritage. Now the property of Garanti Bankası, the building contains the SALT Gallery and a museum of banking history.


Another Vallaury building that makes a dramatic mark on the İstanbul skyline is the one that houses the İstanbul Boys High School in Cağaloğlu, now co-ed despite the misleading name. This started life in 1897 as the Ottoman Public Debt Administration building, a reminder in these straitened times of what can happen when a country's debt spirals completely out of hand. With the Ottoman Empire faced bankruptcy in 1882, a special department, administered by foreigners, was set up to handle its debt. In 1897 it moved into this magnificent building, designed by Vallaury in collaboration with the Italian architect Raimondo d'Aronco, which became redundant in 1923 when Atatürk canceled the debt, and turned the building into a school so that young people could learn the lesson of its past.


Like many İstanbul architects, Vallaury turned his hand to many forms of building, including two mosques. The Hidayet Cami is squashed into the back streets of Eminönü, a stone's throw from the much more conspicuous Yeni Cami (New Mosque), while the Osman Reis Cami is a tiny affair to be found in Yeniköy immediately behind the Ahmed Afif Paşa Yalı, another Vallaury design which was bought by Misbah Muhayyeş, who owned the Pera Palace Hotel, Vallaury's most famous creation, for some years.




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