Nevşehirli (meaning "from Nevşehir") Damat Ibrahim Paşa served as Grand Vizier for Sultan Ahmed III of the Ottoman Empire from 1718 to 1730. The sultan was the head of state, but the grand vizier was in charge of the daily running of the Ottoman Empire. Under the joint rule of Sultan Ahmed III and Grand Vizier Ibrahim Paşa, the empire experienced an unrivaled period of internal peace and prosperity known as the Tulip Era.
LIFE & CAREER
Ibrahim was born in Muşkara (present day Nevşehir) in 1666. He visited friends in Istanbul in 1688 and managed to secure a position at the Sultan’s palace as a maker of helva (the traditional Turkish dessert made from sesame paste.) By virtue of his hard work and intelligence, Ibrahim quickly rose through the palace hierarchy to become a security guard and later a legal administrator. His humility and virtue attracted the attention of prince Ahmed III. When Ahmed became sultan, Ibrahim was promoted to Paşa (rank granted to generals, governors, and high officials) and, at nearly fifty years of age, married the Sultan’s 14-year-old daughter to become “Damat” (son-in-law) Ibrahim Paşa. In 1718, he was appointed vizier to manage government affairs and soon became the grand vizier, the highest official in the empire.
The period of prosperity that followed Ibrahim’s ascension (1718-1730) came to be known as the Tulip Era for its extravagant garden parties and fascination with Turkey’s national flower. It was an era of great progress in arts, science, and social issues, including such innovations as the printing press. However, the luxurious entertainments of the elite stirred popular resentment. When Persia attacked Ottoman possessions in 1730, a popular revolt erupted. The sultan Ahmed III executed Ibrahim to appease the rebels and save himself from the mob at the palace gates. The tragic date was on September 30, 1730.
THE FOUNDATION OF NEVŞEHIR
When Damat Ibrahim Paşa became the right-hand of the Ottoman Empire, his hometown of Muşkara was still a sleepy little village of eighteen homes governed by nearby Ürgüp. In 1725, the grand vizier renamed Muşkara to Nevşehir (meaning “new city”) and initiated a major construction project in the middle of the town. This impressive new city center, completed in 1727, included a mosque, school, library, soup kitchen, hamam and a caravansaray. Some of these buildings and the beautiful paintings which decorated the interior can still be seen in modern Nevşehir.
In the years that followed, Ibrahim Paşa labored faithfully to exalt his beloved hometown. He relocated local officials from Ürgüp to the new city and made Nevşehir the provincial capital. Ürgüp’s bazaar was likewise relocated to Nevşehir and taxation lifted to attract new settlers which quickly transformed the once tiny town into the bustling metropolis it is today. Nevşehirli Damat Ibrahim Paşa’s contributions to his hometown and country are celebrated throughout Cappadocia. His name and likeness appear everywhere from schools to coffee houses.