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Dutch communities in the Ottoman Empire


Since the establishment of official relations in 1612, Dutch diplomats and merchants started to settle in the Ottoman Empire, mainly in the most important commercial centers such as Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Aleppo. These Dutch communities were usually very small. However, with the emergence of Izmir as the main commercial hub of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century, the Dutch community in this city started to grow and began to play an important role in the city’s economic life.

Some important Dutch families were Van Lennep, and De Hochepied. These merchant families formed the Dutch (often protestant) part of the Levantine community of Izmir and had their own hospital-church and cemetery. The Dutch consulate was often housed in the (private) residence of the consul in the area around the (in)famous Frenk Caddesi. Most rich families had summer residences outside Izmir, where they also stayed in times of (plague) epidemics. The Van Lennep and De Hochepied families owned important collections of paintings, indicating their high status in gâvur Izmir society. The Dutch community in Istanbul was smaller and consisted mainly of the ambassador and a number of (often related) merchant families, who sometimes also functioned as officials in the embassy.