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Ottoman Turkish architecture


The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul

The architecture of the Turkish Ottoman Empire forms a distinctive whole, especially the great mosques by and in the style of Sinan, like the mid-16th century Suleymaniye Mosque. For almost 500 years Byzantine architecture such as the church of Hagia Sofia served as models for many of the Ottoman mosques such as the Shehzadeh Mosque, the Suleiman Mosque, and the Rüstem Pasha Mosque.

The Ottomans achieved the highest level architecture in the Islamic lands hence or since. They mastered the technique of building vast inner spaces confined by seemingly weightless yet massive domes, and achieving perfect harmony between inner and outer spaces, as well as light and shadow. Islamic religious architecture which until then consisted of simple buildings with extensive decorations, was transformed by the Ottomans through a dynamic architectural vocabulary of vaults, domes, semidomes and columns. The mosque was transformed from being a cramped and dark chamber with arabesque-covered walls into a sanctuary of aesthetic and technical balance, refined elegance and a hint of heavenly transcendence.
Early architecture

When the Seljuk Turks first arrived in Iran, they encountered an architecture based on old traditions. Integrating this with elements from their own traditions, the Seljuks produced new types of structures, most notably the "medrasa." The first medrasas (moslem theological schools) were constructed in the 11th century by the famous minister Nizamulmulk, during the time of Alp Arslan and Malik Shah. The most important ones are the three government medrasas in Nisabur, Tus and Baghdad and the Hargerd Medrese in Horasan. Another area in which the Seljuks contributed to architecture is that of tomb monument. These can be divided into two types: vaults and large dome-like mausoleums.

The Ribati-Serif and the Ribati Anasirvan are examples of surviving 12th century Seljuk caravansarays, which offered shelter for travellers. Seljuk buildings generally incorporate brick, while the inner and outer walls are decorated in a material made by mixing marble, powder, lime and plaster. In typical buildings of the Anatolian Seljuk period, the major construction material was wood, laid horizontally except along windows and doors where columns were considered more decorative.

Early Ottoman period

Traditional Turkish house in Ohrid in Macedonia

With the establishment of the Ottoman empire, The years 1300-1453 constitute the early or first Ottoman period, when Ottoman art was in search of new ideas. This period witnessed three types of mosques: tiered, single-domed and subline-angled mosques. The Haci Ozbek Mosque (1333) in Iznik, the first important center of Ottoman art, is the first example of an Ottoman single-domed mosque.

Bursa Period (1299-1437)
The domed architectural style evolved from Bursa and Edirne. The Holy Mosque in Bursa was the first Seljuk mosque to be converted into a domed one. Edirne was the last Ottoman capital before Istanbul, and it is here that we witness the final stages in the architectural development that culminated in the construction of the great mosques of Istanbul. The buildings constructed in Istanbul during the period between the capture of the city and the construction of the Istanbul Beyazit Mosque are also considered works of the early period. Among these are the Fatih Mosque (1470), Mahmutpaşa Mosque, the tiled palace and Topkapi Palace. The Ottomans integrated mosques into the community and added soup kitchens, theological schools, hospitals, Turkish baths and tombs.

Classical period (1437-1703)

Selimiye Mosque is considered to be the masterpiece of Sinan

During the classical period mosque plans changed to include inner and outer courtyards. The inner courtyard and the mosque were inseparable. The master architect of the classical period, Mimar Sinan, was born in 1492 in Kayseri and died in Istanbul in the year 1588. Sinan started a new era in world architecture, creating 334 buildings in various cities. Mimar Sinan's first important work was the Şehzade Mosque completed in 1548. His second significant work was the Süleymaniye Mosque and the surrounding complex, built for Kanuni Sultan Süleyman. The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne was built during the years 1568-74, when Sinan was in his prime as an architect.The Rüstempaşa, Mihriman Sultan, Ibrahimpasa Mosques and the Şehzade, Kanuni Sultan Suleyman, Hurrem Sultan and Selim II mausoleums are among Sinan's most renowned works.

Interior of Selimiye Mosque

Examples of Ottoman architecture of the classical period, aside from Turkey, can also be seen in the Balkans, Hungary, Egypt, Tunisia and Algiers, where mosques, bridges, fountains and schools were built.

Westernization period

A view from in of traditional Turkish houses-Lewis, John Frederick, 1805-1875, British painter

During the reign of Ahmed III (1703-1730) and under the impetus of his grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha, a period of peace ensued. Due to its relations with France, Ottoman architecture began to be influenced by the Baroque and Rococo styles that were popular in Europe. The Baroque style is noted as first being developed by Seljuk Turks. [1] [2]Examples of the creation of this art form can be witnessed in Divrigi hospital and mosque a UNESCO world heritage site, Sivas Cifteminare, Konya Ince Minare museum and many more. It is often called the Seljuk Baroque portal. From here it emerged again in Italy, and later grew in popularity among the Turks during the Ottoman era. Various visitors and envoys were sent to European cities, especially to Paris, to experince the contemporary European customs and life. The decorative elements of the European Baroque and Rococo influenced even the religious Ottoman architecture. On the other hand, Mellin, a French architect, was invited by a sister of Sultan Selim III to Istanbul and depicted the Bosphorus shores and the pleasure mansions (Yalı's) placed next to the sea. During a thirty-year period known as the Tulip Period, all eyes were turned to the West, and instead of monumental and classical works, villas and pavilions were built around Istanbul. However, it was about this time when the construction on the Ishak Pasha Palace in Eastern Anatolia was going on, (1685-1784).

Tulip Period (1703-1757)

İstiklal Avenue of Istanbul

Beginning with this period, the upper class and the elites in the Ottoman empire started to use the open and public areas frequently. The traditional, introverted manner of the society began to change. Fountains and waterside residences such as Aynalıkavak Kasrı become popular. A water canal (other name is Cetvel-i Sim), a picnic area (Kağıthane) were established as recreational area. Although the tulip age ended with the Patrona Halil uprising, it became a model for attitudes of westernization. During the years 1720-1890, Ottoman architecture deviated from the principals of classical times. With Ahmed III’s death, Mahmud I took the throne (1730-1754). It was during this period that Baroque-style mosques were starting to be constructed.

Baroque Period (1757-1808)

Ortaköy mosque, Istanbul

Circular, wavy and curved lines are predominant in the structures of this period. Major examples are Nur-u Osmaniye Mosque, Zeynep Sultan Mosque, Laleli Mosque, Fatih Tomb, Laleli Cukurcesme Inn, Birgi Cakiraga Mansion, Aynali Kavak Summerplace, and Selimiye Barracks. Mimar Tahir is the important architect of the time.

Empire Period (1808-1876)

Çırağan Palace is an example of Empire period

Nusretiye Mosque, Ortaköy Mosque, Sultan Mahmut Tomb, Galata Lodge of Mevlevi Derviches, Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, Sadullah Pasha Yalı, Kuleli Barracks are the important examples of this style developed parallel with the westernization process. Architects from the Balyan family were the leading ones of the time.

Late period (1876-1922)
Aksaray Valide Mosque, Sheikh Zafir Group of Buildings, Haydarpasha School of Medicine, Duyun-u Umumiye Building, Istanbul Title Deed Office, Large Postoffice Buildings, Laleli Harikzedegan Apartments are the important structures of this period when an eclectic style was dominant. R. D'Aronco, A. Vallaury are leading architects of the time.

Republic of Turkey (1923- )

Ankara with the Anıtkabir (Atatürk Mausoleum) in the foreground

In this period, Turkish architects looked into the religious and classical buildings of former times for inspiration in their attempts to construct a national architecture.Nationalism, developing strongly after the second Ottoman constitutional period, freed Ottoman architecture from the influence of western art, and thereby brought about a new style based on classical Ottoman architecture.

Levent business district of Istanbul

Following this development, the Ismet Paşa Girls' Institute, the Ankara Faculty of Letters, the Saraçoglu district, the Grand Theater and the Istanbul Hilton paved the way for recognition of contemporary architecture. During this period, Sedat Hakkı Eldem built the Istanbul Science-Literature Faculty and Emim Onat designed Atatürk Mausoleum, in Ankara.