Breaking Point of Baghdad Railways Project in Taurus: Belemedik
The name of Belemedik was mentioned internationally for the first time with the Baghdad Railways Project, which was signed at the end of the 1800s. This project The goal of the project was Germany's desire to establish its transportation network through the Anatolian lands, which directed its route to the Middle East in search of raw materials and markets. In this context, the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II and the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II signed a concession for the construction of the Anatolian Railways in 1888. As a first stage
of the project Istanbul-Izmit-Izmit-Ankara route was completed in 1883.
In the second stage, the Eskişehir-Konya route was completed in 1896. In 1903, under the new agreement called Baghdad Railways Project, railway construction started again from Konya. After the first phase of this new agreement, the Konya-Burgulu line, was completed in 1904, the debate on the route to overcome the challenging Taurus Mountains had begun. After the feasibility studies, it was understood that the high slope descending from 3500 meters to 23 meters on the Burgulu-Ulukışla-Gülek-Dorak-Adana route, which is the first proposed route, would not be suitable for railway operations. Therefore, this route was changed to Burgulu-Ulukışla-Çiftehan-Pozantı-Belemedik-Hacıkırı-Bucak-Kelebek-Durak and Yenice.
Nicholas Mavrogordato, the chief engineer of the construction company Philipp Holzmann, had started to build the construction sites in Ulukışla, Tosunali-Pozantı-Belemedik and Hacıkırı since 1903. Within the scope of the project, there were 37 tunnels must be constructed between Konya and Kelebek. The most challenging part of this stage was the construction of 12 tunnels, 7 bridges and the famous Varda Viaduct between Belemedik and Hacıkırı. In this challenging stage, Belemedik was established as a result of the necessity of a logistical base for the personnel to stay and work in the region for a long time. In this context, the first buildings were started to built in 1905.
From Logistics Base to Prison Camp: Belemedik During the World War I
Although the construction of the tunnel began in 1905 from Hacıkırı, Tunnels reached Belemedik after 11 years, in 1914. In the meantime, the Italian-Ottoman war broke out in Libya in 1911, and the Italians working on bridges and viaducts left the job. Afterwards, because of the Balkan Wars of 1911-1912, mobilization was declared, everyone was drafted and there was no one left to work on the construction sites. On top of all this, the Ottoman and Germany participating in World War I, were short of staff in this railway construction which they wanted to reach to Baghdad as soon as possible. As a solution of this problem, it was decided to bring captive technical staff and soldiers to Belemedik. First, the captives from Gallipoli then Caucasus were brought to here. Belemedik became an international campus where British, French, Anzac, Russian, Greek, Armenian, Jewish, Indian, Senegalese, German, Swiss, Austrian and Turks work and live together. Belemedik was home to a population of 5000 people with all places and infrastructure that they needed such as; canteen, bakery, cinema, church, mosque, dining hall, workshops, factories, post office, social houses, schools, housing, villas, electricity and water infrastructure.
During World War I, the construction of 12 tunnels between Belemedik and Hacıkırı was still not completed. Enver Pasha, the Minister of War, came to Hacıkırı on 16 February 1916 to observe the slow progress of the construction of the tunnels and realized the lack of qualified workers, personnel and budget. A military unit consisting of a special railway technical staff of 450 people from Germany was builded up here with 8 million French Marks cash from the Ottoman Public Debt Administration. Despite the acceleration of the project, the course of the war was not good. As a result of the withdrawal that began on October 4, 1918, Armistice of Mudros was signed on October 30, 1918. It was accepted the defeat of Germany and the Ottomans, the country was occupied by the British and French. Pozantı-Belemedik-Hacıkırı area was occupied by the French. Belemedik wes rescued from the French occupation on April 10, 1920 and Pozantı on May 25, 1920.
Belemedik During the War of Independence
During the occupation of Pozantı and Belemedik, Engineer Nicholas Mavrogordato, along with Monsieur Deduwal, who was appointed to assist him, continued his duty in the construction of the railway and ensured the progress of the project. Following the report of Mavrogordato who gave a briefing to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Founder of Turkish Republic) who came to Pozantı on August 5, 1920, the 25-kilometer decovil line in Belemedik was moved to Azarıköy, Afyon, and the weapons and ammunition supplied from Russia were carried to the fronts. Belemedik, which was the subject of the Ankara Agreement, a peace agreement with the French after the War of Independence, was requested by the French in the status of “spoil of war”, but this request was rejected by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Belemedik was destroyed once more during the conflicts that took place on April 8, 1920 and it was once again destroyed and only a few buildings remained from the settlement where 5000 people lived.