Istanbul in Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital of the Roman Empire throughout centuries until 1453. The city maintained the capital of the Roman Empire throughout centuries despite Arabs’ and Western states’ attacks. Constantinople was necessary for the Ottoman Empire. Because the city connected two continents, had important trade routes, and if Constantinople were conquered, the Ottoman Empire would have secured itself. And sultans started to organize expeditions.

In the history of Istanbul, the first Ottoman Empire siege was done by Yildirim Bayezid. But crusaders occupied the Balkans simultaneously, and he had to lift the siege. Yildirim Bayezid besieged the city again in 1400. This time, he faced the Timur disasters in Anatolia. Bayezid didn’t want to surrender the city and the Anatolia fortress. After Bayezid, Murad II surrounded this city. But Mustafa Riot started, and Murad II had to retreat.

In 1453, the history of Istanbul would begin to change. The Ottoman Empire extended its bounds in this area, surrounded the city. Mehmet II wanted Constantinople. Ordnances were done while Mehmet II prepared for the war. Rumelian Fortress was built at the opposite side of Anatolian Fortress so that no aid would come to the city. And so, he besieged it by land and sea. He conquered Constantinople on 29 May 1453, and the city became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. After the conquest, Mehmet II received a title. The title was Fatih Sultan Mehmet, Mehmet the Conqueror.

After the conquest of Constantinople, it took a significant place in Islamic World, and a new era began for the history of Istanbul. The city was now in Ottoman Empire, but the city was decorated and made of Christian descent structures and was also heavily populated by Christians. So, Fatih Sultan Mehmet began a population study. He brought Muslims, lived in Anatolia to Istanbul. Neighborhoods were established for Muslims. Merchants and artists arrived, and they were all placed throughout various city districts.

People of different religions lived together in the Ottoman Empire. Neighborhoods had synagogues, churches, and mosques. In time, people of different faiths began to live together in Constantinople. Fatih Sultan Mehmet aimed that Constantinople strived to regain its splendor. So, He started development. He built baths, waterways, and mosques. The city was partly ruined due to the crusaders. He built walls for the city’s security and transformed Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Minarets were done for Hagia Sophia, and idols were removed. This conversion symbolized conquest in the Ottoman Empire.

Fatih Sultan Mehmet wanted to build a new palace in Constantinople. Thus, Topkapi Palace began to be built in 1460 and it was finished in 1478. Topkapi palace was one of the symbols of the Ottoman Empire. Fatih Sultan Mehmet and sultans, who lived after Fatih, began to live there.

But an earthquake occurred in 1509. This earthquake was named “small doomsday” in the Ottoman Empire, and it was one of the biggest in the history of Istanbul. After the earthquake, Istanbul was ruined, and it was built again by Bayezid II. All structures damaged were repaired and new houses built. 

Suleyman The Magnificent/ Lawgiver

The Ottoman Empire began to live the most magnificent time with Suleyman, the Lawgiver. In this period, architecture was important for the history of Istanbul. Suleyman, the Lawgiver, cared for art and architecture. His first monument was the Yavuz Sultan Mosque, which he had built for his father. 

Architect Sinan was important for the Ottoman Empire in this period. He built many mosques, bridges, etc. His first projects were Çavuşbaşı Mosque and Haseki Hurrem Sultan Mosques, and he is also the architect of the Suleymaniye Mosque, Mihrimah Sultan mosques, baths, bridges, aqueduct, and madrasas, in Istanbul. We can say that this time was also the era of Architect Sinan for the Ottoman Empire, and we can see the interest of Suleyman, the Lawgiver in art and architecture, and the talent of Architect Sinan. Architecture, which was done by Architect Sinan, is important for the history of Istanbul. These structures still are in Istanbul.

After Suleyman The Lawgiver

Sultanahmet Mosque is one of the most magnificent pieces of architecture for the Ottoman Empire. This mosque was furnished with Iznik pottery. Sultanahmet Mosque was built by Sedefkar Mehmet Agha. In the Tulip Era, Ottoman Empire lived innovations. Some rich people began to raise tulips at this time. So that period was named the Tulip Era. In this period, gardens and pavilions began to be built in Istanbul. Ahmet III. Library was constructed in Topkapi Palace. Places devastated were built again.

When we look at the history of Istanbul, we see the rescript of Gulhane. When the rescript of Gulhane was read in 1839, the Ottoman Empire began a new period. Westernization movements started in this period. And this situation reflected itself in architecture. Western-style architecture and railways began to be done; modern education models were initiated. Ottoman junior high school, university opened, and Western art and traditional art started to be seen in this period. This situation reflects alterations in the history of Istanbul. 

Istanbul was the capital of the Ottoman Empire until 1923. The Republic of Turkey was established in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and Ankara became the capital. Events affected, and the city changed over time. The history of Istanbul is pervasive. We can still see the past. The city reflects its history and culture. Despite the passing of time, the city affected people with magnificent areas, architecture. When we begin to discover, we want to learn more. We can find our past and this day, and we think about what our future will be like. 

Frequently Asked Question

When was the Ottoman Empire founded?
In 1299.
When did Suleiman the Magnificent rule?
Between 1520 and 1566.
Who succeeded Suleiman the Magnificent?
His son, Selim the Second.