LATE POST: Ottoman Architecture


Constantinople Becomes Istanbul

After the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II, the city quickly started to develop an Islamic identity while preserving its Greek legacy. After the conquest, with the encouragement of migrations to new capital he built the markets of Kapali Çarsi to boost merchant activities and similar to the Koza Han it had square bays enclosed with rounded domes. The young sultan was highly impressed by both cultural and technological innovations of Italy and his fortifications showed the influence of Italian engineering as seen in Rumeli Hisar’s round towers .
Mehmet II converted Hagia Sophia into a royal mosque as his great prize by adding a minaret and mihrab. Later on he built a new mosque called Fatih Cami inspired by this Byzantine church. His new mosque had an hemispherical dome and a semi-dome placed to carry the larger dome on the east side of the great dome while those on the other sides were capped with three smaller domes. The two slender minaret took place at the corners of the most leading to a rectangular forecourt which is the same in diameter with the interior area.  The voussoirs were embellished red and white masonry like that of Cordoba. He extended the area as a plaza which took the mosque as its center and its scale approximated that of the great courts of the Forbidden City in Beijing and the barrel vaults which were already in the area remained from an earlier Byzantine cistern served as the foundation of the terraced complex.
He commissioned to the palace complex of Topkapi, this private realm appeared unlikely of European palaces, asymmetrical and more like a garden than a building.  The connection between natural and man-made elements besides the framed views of Bosporus are the well taught features of the complex which makes it more similar to a Chinese scholar’s garden than an Italian palazzo. The first entrance to the place was Yhe Imperial Gate from this gate to the second there stands a path with randomly placed trees. The middle gate has pencil point turrets placed on octagonal towers. Beyond this point there were the Court of Processions, Diwan and harem etc.

Sinan and the Challenge of Hagia Sophia

Sinan (mentioned in an earlier post) built several mosques and imarets by using marble-clad minarets and cupolas within narrow streets and densely placed wooden houses. An imaret for Hürrem, the Haseki Hürrem complex has a mosque covered with a single hemispherical dome and an hospital and institution for women with an unusual octagonal court.
The Şehzade Cami built in honor of sultan’s elder son Mehmet, has a central dome which was abutted by for semi-domes. four buttress tower and four smaller domes at the corner framed the square forecourt.
Süleymaniye is one of his masterworks. The central dome is nearly as large as its Byzantine prototype (Hagia Sophia). Similar to the Şehzade Cami four octagonal towers rose at the corners of the dome. They carry the major load of the dome as pinnacles used in Gothic architecture. The Süleymaniye Cami complex covered relatively less area than Fatih’s imaret.  Seven madrasas stood at the edges each with a courtyard.
The largest mosque of Sinan, Selimiye has a dome which is slightly larger than Hagia Sophia and has the tallest minarets ever in all Islam world. On the facade facing courtyard he used narrow and wide bays in a rhythmic order that leads to a kind of Ottoman characterization.


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