Cahide Tamer was one of the pioneering female figures in the field of restoration in modern Turkey. She was born in Istanbul and graduated from Erenköy Girls High School. In 1935, following the breakdown of her first marriage when she was 17, she enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts, the Department of Painting in Istanbul, where she studied with Namık Kemal and İbrahim Çallı. In 1936, she continued her education at the Academy in the Department of Turkish Decorative Arts, and studied with İsmail Hakkı Altunbezer, Süheyl Ünver, Necmeddin Okyay, Kamil Akdik and Vasıf Sedef. In 1938, she began her architectural education at the Academy, and obtained her degree in 1943. Shortly after, she began to work at the Ministry of National Education, General Directorate of Ancient Arts and Museums, assisting Sedat Çetintaş (1889-1965), one of the first graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts and one of the leading figures in the Committee for the Protection of Historical Works and Monuments in Turkey.
In 1947, she worked on the restoration project of the divan lounge (“divanhane”, in Turkish) in the Amcazade Hüseyin Pasha Mansion (built 1699), one of the oldest buildings on the Bosphorus, in Istanbul. From 1950-1952, she contributed to the restoration project of the Sofa Kiosk in the Harem Section of the Topkapı Palace, and conducted the ceiling restorations of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum from 1953-1954. Following her second marriage, with Hadi Tamer, the chemist at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, she went to France to study historical buildings for two months.
Returning to Istanbul, she worked on two of the largest and most significant projects in the history of restoration in the country. In 1954, she began the restoration project of the Fortress of the Seven Towers, in Istanbul, a project she conducted until 1970. She also worked with Mustafa Ayaşlıoğlu and Selma Emler on the restoration project of the Rumeli Fortress, in Istanbul, a project she undertook after Mustafa Ayaşlıoğlu’s travels to Syria.
For the International Byzantine Congress taking place in Istanbul in 1955, various restoration projects were realized and most of them were conducted by Cahide Tamer. This was followed by the restoration of the naos and atrium sections of the Studios Monastery and the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus, in Istanbul in 1955. Between 1955 and 1956, Tamer was also involved in the restoration project of the Pammakaristos Church in Fethiye, a district of Muğla in the Aegean region of Turkey, and the restoration project of the naos, narthex and atrium sections of the Hagia Irene in Istanbul.
Directorate Of Foundations
In December of 1956, she began to work at the Directorate General of Foundations (“Vakıflar Genel Müdürlüğü”, in Turkish), in Istanbul and was responsible for the restoration projects of the Orthodox Community Metamorfosis Church, and the Surp Pırgiç Armenian Church in the city. That same year, she worked on the restoration projects of two towers of the Walls of Constantinople and prepared technical reports on various parts of its sea and land sections.
She received “the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” Award in 1961, for the restoration of the Fortress of the Seven Towers, and recognition by the Chamber of Architects of Turkey, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her professional career, in 1993. She retired from the Directorate of Foundations in 1974, and died in 2005.