Byzantine & Ottoman in Istanbul


Imagine that the capital city of Byzantine Empire located on the historical peninsula of Constantinople,modern İstanbul, was burned down by pouring oil. Almost every monumental buildings were damaged deadly. More than 30.000 people were massacred and their cutted bodies were scattered all over the city…

An emperor  saw this calamity as an opportunity to build the city as his wish, as his ancestors did. This was also the only way of calming the rebelled people against his throne and reorganizing of his supporters. ..

Byzantine Emperor Justinian gazed on the burned debris of second  Hagia Sophia, the Holy Wisdom Church, and decided to build excellent one.  His assistants proposed him Isodore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles as the architects of new building. Only a few weeks after the destruction of the second basilica, on 23 february 532, todays majestic Hagia Sophia was started to build. In five years it was opened with a great  emperial ceremony, even though it’s interior mosaic and desings were uncomplished. But Justİnian proclaimed ‘’ Solomon, I have outdone thee!’’ indicating the Great Temple of Jarusselam. Do you concern about what happened then? This marvellos building became the center of Patriachial Seat of Chiristianity for centuries. Byzantine emperors ascend to the throne, married or baptisized in this building. Two council of Christianty was held in this building. The Catholic and Orthodox sects of Christiany were departed arter a rough and stil persisting discussion about Jesus Christ. Whether he was the son of the Holy Spirit or not. Whether the images of the emperors and their family members should be depicted and frescoed in churches or not. The declaration of Byzantine İconaclasm (726-842) period started and finished in this huge building. Jesus was depicted as an Arabian guy  holded by Virgin Mary, sitting on a throne, on the half dome of the apse. Golden mosaics of Virgin and jesus, emperors and empress adorns interior of this miraculos building. Still it’s vast dome is the highest and largest dome in Turkey. As Great Architech Sinan of Otoman empire, even today many architect, historian and engineers deal and compete with it. This magnificient building was the largest cathedral of the world for more than one thousand years. Turned into a mosque by Sultan Mehmet 2,in 1453, after the fall of the Constantinople. That’s why there is an reverse Mihrab in its apse. Sultans of Ottoman prayed or added new parts this building. So it has four different in architectural type and materials as the imperial mosques. Countles story through the history of three empire. Witnes of history! Hagia sophia, opened to the public as a museum in 1935, is one the most visited points by tourists. Hagia Sophia, as the other structure of historical peninsula, is undertaken to protection by included to  UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Earthquakes, rebellions, attacks, fire! Still it is safe and sound! Hagia Sophia has been waiting for you for more than 1500 years!



After a sudden dead of Sultan Mehmet 3, his fourteen –year- old son Sultan Ahmet 1 ascend to throne in 1603. During his father reign state conditions were worsen and his father massacred his 19 young and child brothers  in order to save his throne. So shcolars and folks had criticised him. Young sultan dedided to improve his position. There were also war between Ottoman and Austrian empire. Sultan Ahmet signed a peace threaty ; the Zitvotorok Threaty. Then he decided to deal with interior issues. He decided the 6th emperial mosque of Ottoman Empire. Scholar recommend Ayşe Hatun Palace(Byzantine Graet Palace was there formerly) to destruct and built the mosque. The location was perfect and it would have seen from every point of the city. Sultan attend the lay of foundation ceremony . The contruction satrted in 1609 and finished in 1616, only a year before the Sultan died. The architect was Sedefkar Metmet Ağa. He was an apprantice of the Great Architect Sinan. He synthesized his masters ideas and  incorprated closer Hagia Sophias feathures and traditional Islamic architecture. When the contruction finished outcome was excellent. Calligrapher Seyid Kasım Gubari of Diyarbakır inscribed the names of caliphs and verses from the Quran on its interior walls and domes but have been repeatedly restored. Tiles were produced in Iznık under supervision of master Kasap Hacı and Barış Efendi from Cappadocia. More than 21.000 pieces of tiles coverde interior walls and piers of the mosque. These tiles are blue in colour and this is the reason why all around the world the mosque known as the Blue Mosque. These handmade tiles reflect more than fifty tulip design, carnation, hyacith or a few flovers. All pieces are special art Works.  More than two hundreds stained glass windows with intricate design admit natural light inside, today assisted by chandeliers. İts main dome is one the peak example of architecture. İt is 43 m high and 23.5m in diameter and carried by four piers and supported by four semi-domes.  İn the mosque there is Sultans Lodge , for friday prayign fort the Sultan and a rest room. İts Mihrab (prayer niche) and Mimbar (sermon stairway) are also very rare woks of marble and wood masters. Mosque founded on a rectangular plan 73 m long and 65 m wide. İt has also a closed courtyard and colounade facedes covered with domes. İn the middle of the courtyard there is a small but sweet fountain and row of ablution tabs are in two sides. The mosque has six minaret and this was also a debate when they were built. Because only the Kabah had six minarets. Sultan sent the architec to add a minaret to the Kabah and solved this matter. 64 m high six minarets have 16 serefe (balcony). Unfortunately North-west minaret collapsed during the Marmara Earthquake in 1999 and today it has been under restoration. The structures  are a Külliye( complex building). When it was built ther were two secondary schools, an arasta(bazar), fountains and a tomb,today Sultan Ahmet tomb. Usa president  Bill Clinton visited the Blue Mosque and for the first time Pope Benedict XVI visited here in 2006. Today it is stil used for praying.  Praying section and visitors area are departed by a barrier. The Blue Mosque is one of the main building adorn the magic city İstanbul’s image.

This magnificient building waiting for you for centuries on the historical peninsula of İstanbul.



Think about  100.000 people shouting, clapping their hands.  They have red, blue, green and white flags  and they are waving madly. They are bouncing same as the world soccer championship. The Sphendone ( curved tribune of the U-shaped structure) is full of crazy spectators. Four teams of chariot racing are competing. Every sharp turn of chariots is provoking people. The emperor and high-rank rulers are sitting on the Kathisma (emperor’s loge) watching the race and by this way they come together with folk. Every team is also a political party… Hippos (horse) dromos(path) are the words of Greeks. But monumantel buildigns for chariot races were widespreaded during the Roman Empire.  In  AD196, Roman Empire Septimius Severus  took over the city and  in AD 203 rebuilt the city, enlarged and strenghtened its walls. Eventhough the Hippodrome is associated with truimphial times of Constantinople, it was endowed earlier by Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. It is estimated that it was about 450 m long and 130 m wide. Its stands were capable of holding 100.000 spectators. By the time it became heart of the Roman Empire. In ad 324 Constantine the Great declared the city as capital of the empire. He undertaked a major renovation on the Hippodrome. Hippodrome boxes build on the northen side and four gilded the Saint Marks Horses were erected. Unfortunately they were looted during the Fourth Crusade. The Sphina (milde barrier of the racecourse) was adorned with coloumns and statutes of gods, emperors, heroes. Herakles by Lysippos, Romus and Romulus with their wolf are demolished today.only three of enogh to memorize its glorius days. The Serpent Coloumn of the Plataean tripod, holding a golden bowl on snakes head. İt was melted from the weapons captured from the Persian during the Plataen war. Initially the Serpent Coloun erected in Delphi Apollon Temle in 479 BC. Contantine the Great brought it and erected current place of it in AD 324. It can be seen today but its golden bowl is looted and lostand only one of three broken snake head is being displayed in archeology museum Theodosius the Great adorned the Hippodrome by bringing the Obelisk of Tutmose 3. İnitially it was erected at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor in about 1490 BC. Tutmose 3 was depicted his gratitude for son god in Egyptian hieroglypics. Even though it was shorter than its original heights(maybe cutted or broken while shipping) it was erected on current pedestal in AD 390. Theodesius carved relief of four facades of pedestal depictig golden wreath and some other scenes. In the 10th century  emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus build the Walled Obelisk and covered it with gilded bronze plaques. These plaques were looted during the Fourt Crusade. In addition seven other statues were erected in honour  of legendary charitor Porphyrios. None them are there today. During  the Ottoman era Hippodrome used for circumcision ceremonies, İftar (diner of holy mounth ramadan) organizations, cloth mercant displayed their fabrics. The ramnents of sphendone was for building İbrahim Pasha Palace. Morever its material recycled during the Blue Mosques founding process. East part of the mosque was cotsructed on the arches of sphendone. Hippodrome last monument adorning this square is the German Fountain. German kaiser William 2 was the firs leader visited Ottoman capital in 1898. He presented this fountain. ıt was build in Germany and intalled in 1901. Hippodrome or after Blue Mosque it was called as Sultamahmet Square is inviting you a short walk between three empires relicts.


A young man ascend to the throne of the Ottoman State. He travelled from Manisa to Edirne after Sultan Murad 2, his father died. He was serious and rarely smiling but too enthusiastic to learn. This enthusiasm turned the state to an empire. He was the Sultan Mehmet 2 the Conquerer. He orginised all possibilities of the state to conquer the Constantinople and put an end to the Byzantine Empire. Never loosing time he sieged the city for 53 days and captured on 29 May 1453. This was the begining of glorious days of new empire; the Ottomans,on the other hand end of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Sultan Mehmet achieved countless victories and captured lans. In fact his main aim was rule the world from one center like Alexander the Great and rebuild Istanbul as the center of the world as Constantine the Great did. İdeas flows but works live. Just after the conquer he started to rebuild the city and his palace. Formerly, todays İstanbul University building contructed on the Theodosius Forum, later it was called as the Old Palace and used by the women of the state and their childrens. But Old Palace was in adequate for new and spreading empire. A brand new one was started to build on Seraglio Point of the Byzantine Empire, as the administer center and accomadation for high ranked officers. The most important status was, of course,the Ottoman Empire woul be ruled here till 1856. Otoman sultans ruled the empire for 403 years from this palace, the Topkapı Palace( Cannon Gate Palace). Topkapı Palace is a complex of simple  buildings and calm courtyards. Every courtyard and structers were built for special purpose and have special functions in the Ottoman administerating system. Current buildings were added in different times.  Sultan Mehmet 2, Alaaddin Ağa, Davud Ağa, the Great Achitect Sinan and Sarkis Balyan only a few of this palace’s architects.  Topkapı Palace was approximately started to built in 1460 and new buildings and sections were added till 1853. For over the course of four centuries  this tranquilling palace had been finished. During the reign of Mehmet 2  the Conquerer inner walls and gates, the Tiled Kiosk, Justice Tower and Council Hall, kitchen, a mosque and a madrasah were built. The buildings and large courtyards were planned in the light of administering strict rules.

Sur-u Sultani ( the Imperial walls) and 1st Courtyard The palace has a city wall that cut the tip point of peninsula. Before entering the palace the Amet 3 fountain welcomes the visitors just close to the outer wall of the Hagia Sophia. Imperial Gate (Bab-ı  Hümayun) lead the 1st courtyard. There is a long walking path in the threes for the imperial ceremonies. Hagia Iriene church( a Byzantine church dating back to 5th century and used as an Arsenal and hedaqarter of Janissaries), the Executionar Fountain and the Imperial Mint are the main bulding of this courtyard. Today enterance Office is olso here.


Bab-üs Sade (Gate of Salutation) and 2nd Courtyard

This courtyard is the administrative center of the empire. Tower of Justice and the Imperial Council, the Treasure House, entrance of the Harem, the kitchen are sreaded in two side of colonaded and covered courtyard. Walking through the courtyard a noted point is visible and it is the roof of Byzantinen cistern. Armory artefacts collection, watches  and kitchen utensils are on display today. Ordinary and special meeting of the imperial councils were held in this courtyard and only the Sultan can enter here on horse. The holy banner point is also important before the third courtyard.

Bab-üs Sade (The Gate of Felicity) and 3rd Courtyard

Just behind the Gate of Felicity there is the Audience Chamber. İt was built deliberately to close the vision from the second courtyard. Because only the Sultan, Sultan’s family, high rank officer and students of the madrasah was allowed to enter this courtyard.  Foreign ambassadors were also coming together with the Sultan personally. Today the Imperial Treasure, including priceless the Spoon Maker diamond, are can be seen in the Conquerer Pavilion. Just behind it there is the Ağalar Mosque with lovely minaret. The Yeravan, Bağdat, Mecidiye and İftariye( dinner of the holy month Ramadan) are the kiosks adorned this tulip garden courtyard. The circumcision room of the Princes, tiled fountains and refreshing pool is reclect the royalty of the empire. The holy relics of İslamic world, including the beard of Prophet Muhamad, are also in the Privy Chamber. The Dormitory of Royal Pages houses the potraits of the sultans. The Enderun (high master scsool) Library of the Ahmet 3  had been housing a collection of books and manuscript till 1928 an they are in the palace library currently. The Harem Section was the section of women of the empire. The mother of the Sultan was accepted as the queen and she was responsible of administering of the Harem. The Valide sultan( mother of the sultan), the concubines,wives and the rest of sultans family including children and their servants and the Sultan were living in harem. The Harem consist of sevaral tiled and well designed structers connected through hallways and courtyards. Every service and  hierarchial team had their own special living resides. There are more than 100 rooms but only a few of them are open to the public. The Harem was the home of the Sultans and their family. The Gate of Charts, the Hall of Ablution, the Courtyard of Eunuchs,  the Queenmother courtyard, the Passage of Concubines, the Sultans Consorts, the Sultans and Queen Baths and the privy chambers of different sultans are  only a few of this exiciting reside. The third courtyard offers you  one of most spectacular wiev of the world. The Bosphorus seperate not only İstanbul but also Asia and Europe. The golden horn, the Galata tower or the Maidens Tower.. whatever worth to see in this magic city is closer you than a glimpse. Topkapı Palace was coverted into a museum in 1924 and waiting for visitors with the smell of the Ottoman Empire.


Turkish (Kapalı Çarşı) meaning Covered Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 coveredstreets and over 3000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. The Grand Bazaar is located inside the walled city of Istanbul in th district of Fatih. 

Galata Bridge, Golden Horn, Leander’s Tower,Obelisk of Theodosius-Serpentine Column,German Fountain of Wilhelm II

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.