The Hotel de Monaco, the first permanent embassy office of the Ottoman Empire in France, currently runs as the Embassy of Poland in Paris. Designed by architect Alexandre Brongniart in 1777, the building was commissioned to be built by Monaco Princess Marie-Catherine de Brignol. Toward the end of the 18th century, when the Ottoman Empire began to establish permanent embassies, Ambassador Seyyid Ali Efendi used the building.
Agnieszka Kucinska, the Ambassador of Poland in Paris, who recently hosted Osman Nihat Bişgin, the guide of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) National Palaces, for his research project at her office, told an Anadolu Agency reporter that the building has historical value as it was once used by Ottoman ambassadors.
Recalling that Turkey and Poland celebrated the 600th year of their bilateral political relations, Kucinska said, "The building symbolizes the brotherly relations between Turkey and Poland for centuries. Today, the relations have strengthened much more," she said, adding that there is not any Ottoman-era artwork in the building. "Unfortunately, there is no sign that the Ottoman Empire used this place, yet the memories of those days are still alive. The Ottoman Empire was the only country that recognized Poland as a state in its weak periods and this building was used as an embassy. This is very important," she said. Even though there are no Ottoman-era objects here, those days were the beginning of our good relations with Turkey, Kucinska continued.
Kucinska said each year in September; the embassy building is open to the public for a day as part of cultural heritage days. Last year, 3,000 visitors came in to see the embassy, she added. The ambassador said there are around 700,000 Polish residents in France. "In this building, we organize conferences with the participation of Polish authors. We also hold fashion shows by famous designers. I believe such events are not common in embassies," she said. Kucinska said the U.K. and Austria also used the building. During the office term of the Austrian Ambassador, renowned composer Frederic Chopin gave his first public concert here.
Osman Nihat Bişgin also said that the building was used by the Ottoman Empire from 1797 to 1802. He said Ottoman ambassador Seyyid Ali Efendi worked in this position for about three years. "However, the things did not go well for the ambassador. The French campaign in Egypt changed everything. He lived here like a political prisoner. However, his mansion was not taken from him. When a peace agreement was concluded, he requested a passport," Bişgin said. He said Seyyid Ali Efendi worked in this building for five years and eight months, although he was not an accredited ambassador. The ambassador was highly prestigious when he first came to France. "Everyone wanted to see him. The embassy is very close to the current national assembly building, which means France, wanted to have a close relation with the ambassador. Also, they could easily check who came in there," Bişgin said. He went on to say that France saw him as a political advantage and this was because the building still belonged to him. He continued to be an authorized officer under the French kingdom.
Bişgin further said that the Monaco princess built the building with her own financial resources. It was first allocated to the British Embassy and then owned by the French control after the 1789 revolution, and later given to Ottoman ambassadors like Seyyid Ali Efendi and Abdürrahim Muhip Efendi. Bişgin expressed his happy feelings that the embassy is now run by the Polish government. "I am happy to see the building is in the hands of our friend. I wrote to Poland's Istanbul-based Consul and General Grzegorz Michalski helped us to contact Kucinska. Our meeting was a helpful exchange of ideas," he said. Bişgin currently conducts research on the Ottoman-French relations. "I really wanted to see the building for its historical significance." Press executive Piotr Blonski informed Bişgin about the building's history and other historical objects during the visit.