Ottomans were renowned for their architectural and artistic pursuits

The Ottomans (r.1299-1923), a Turkish dynasty, controlled much of South-eastern Europe, the Near and the Middle East as well as North Africa. Named after the founder Osman, the dynasty captured Constantinople from Byzantine rule, renamed it Istanbul, and made it their capital. The city became a centre for culture, sciences, and scholarship.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque Image:Wikipedia
Sultan Ahmet Mosque
Ceramic dish dated circa 1575-80, Ottoman period. Image: Aga Khan Museum
Ceramic dish dated circa 1575-80, Ottoman period.
Image: Aga Khan Museum

The Ottomans were known for their architectural, literary, and administrative achievements. They transformed religious architecture through a dynamic vocabulary of domes, semi-domes, vaults, and pencil shaped minarets, some of which are the tallest ever built. The unrestrained enthusiasm of the Ottoman rulers for ceremonial monuments, their immense financial strength as well as an inexhaustible source of ideas which flowed from the master builders, artists, and craftsmen from various religious backgrounds, all helped Ottoman art flourish.Istanbul hosts some of the most important historical monuments of the Ottoman dynasty including the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque due to the colour of its interior tiles, and the Topkapi Palace which was the official residence of the rulers and the seat of the government.

In the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Empire’s workshops at the Topkapi Palace had nearly 900 artisans from across the Mediterranean world and beyond – from painters, engravers, weavers and tile makers, to bookbinders, goldsmiths, ivory craftsmen, manuscript illuminators, and musical instrument makers.

Today, the Topkapi Palace is a museum, rich in collections of jewels, silk gowns, and Ming porcelain. The second awards of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture were presented at the Topkapi Palace.

Almut Von Gladib, Islam: Art and Architecture Edited by Markus Hattstein and Peter Delius, Cologne, Konemann, 2000

Research by Nimira Dewji

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