When Constantinople was captured by the Latins after the 1204 crusade and later restructured as the capital of the Byzantine Empire, it was transformed into a medieval city in terms of urban scale, texture, and monumental structures. Unlike other Mediterranean cities, it had ceased to be a continuous and integrated ancient settlement by the late antique period; the destroyed urban texture amidst the ancient ruins, which preserved their grandeur to an extent, bore a mixed rural-urban appearance in places. According to a map prepared by Cristoforo Buondelmonti (1385–1430), the monumental columns dedicated to Roman emperors still existed; however, due to the city’s forums and colonnaded roads, it is unclear to what extent they were intact. The Hippodrome and the Grand Palace were in a state of ruin, while the constant need for defense focused on the palace at the corner of the Golden Horn land walls, the Blakhernai (Tekfur) Palace, and its surroundings. The large churches of the sixth century, Hagia Sophia and Hagia Irene continued to demonstrate patriarchal authority. Another ancient monument was the Hagioi Apostoloi (Holy Apostles) Church, which had ceased to function as the emperor’s mausoleum by this time. The architectural features of the Palaiologos era, the last period of Byzantine architecture, were displayed in the monasteries and churches. It appears that the size of these churches, many of which were preserved in their converted state, was reduced; they were covered with small-scale arches and domes, the building material was brick, and unlike previous periods, some were decorated partially with brick without any overlaying materials. The interior spaces of the churches were covered with mosaics and murals; the most significant of the artistic values of the Palaiologos era was this renaissance in religious symbolism.

The urban texture of this city, which bore no trace of its previous form, was concentrated more on the slopes above the natural harbor of the Golden Horn; at the beginning of the fifteenth century, in the words of the urban historian Stefanos Yerasimos, Constantinople was a “withered port city.”1 The influence of the capital had lost its imperial reach and was limited to the Bosphorus, even to the Golden Horn. Over a period of time, Galata, which was given to the Genoese as a concession zone after the Latin era, was transformed into an independent trade colony with its own walls. The most striking urban development in the last two centuries of Byzantine rule was probably the Italian city-state urbanization and architecture imported to the Golden Horn. A similar urban architecture appeared as a concentrated trade texture integrated with residential buildings in Pera, the Venetian concession zone on Constantinople’s shore of the Golden Horn. At the end of the fourteenth century, the port town Skutarion or Scutari (Üsküdar) came under Ottoman control. This threefold urban structure toward the Golden Horn, which also included the entrance to the Bosphorus, dated from the final period of Constantinople and was the most substantial heritage of the Ottoman period in terms of the city structure.


Despite the prestige and reputability generated by the conquest of Constantinople, at the time this ruined ancient city was in no condition to become a capital. The construction of Ottoman Istanbul was achieved gradually, through smaller projects in the early years and larger, city-wide projects later as the population grew and improvement policies were implemented. In the words of Kritovoulos, a historian of the period, Mehmed II wanted to “make the city self-sufficient and influential in every field as in the past; in power, wealth, fame, science, art, in all other occupations and fine things; with its public and private buildings and monumental artifacts.”2

The establishment of Istanbul was a project of imperialism. The capture of the ancient capital was the initial step toward becoming an empire, and as the empire began to expand, a new capital was constructed with monuments in the old city.

Various urban and architectural customs in the origins of Istanbul were reconstructed by Sultan Mehmed II. Some of these were structures that were introduced by the new rulers, while others were a continuation of the city’s culture. The Ottomans introduced the schema of the city that was developed during the Middle Eastern Islamic and Beylik (principality) periods. They expanded on an existing city and established a new center within it; the complexes they built helped determine the distribution of future habitations. Three main functions defined the new city center: a bazaar, a palace, and a large mosque. A palace could be established by converting an existing structure in the old settlement area or by constructing a new palace at a distance from it. The citadel constituted the bazaar area with commercial buildings, rows of shops, and caravanserais beneath the palace or between the old settlement area and the palace. Due to the connection with the palace, this area was generally referred to as tahte’l-kal’a (beneath the palace). The bazaar area was developed on a loose grid plan around long market streets and covered bazaars. The ulu (grand) mosque was situated in the central marketplace and connected with the palace; generally, it was a large space with multiple pillars and domes. The enclosed complexes were multifunctional religious structures, containing a masjid (prayer room) and lodgings for the dervishes, as well as a tekke, imaret (soup kitchen), the tomb of the founder of the complex, a madrasa, a hamam (bathhouse), and lodgings for travelers. Within this design, the most important structures were located at the highest natural elevations.

Large parts of Constantinople inherited from its time as a capital during late antiquity formed the basis, even though Late Byzantine culture had become a faint memory, for reconstruction during the reign of Mehmed II. Although the Roman city was not a real example, it was a significant source of data both in its physical presence and in legends about it. City infrastructure—water systems, main roads, and monumental structures such as hilltop arenas and sacred structures—promoted continuity. However, during the reign of Mehmed II, the environment was not only studied historically but also consciously altered, in ways that were both in keeping with and contrary to Constantinople’s legendary image. The ancient city was the reward of victory; its artifacts and pieces of artifacts were either restored to their original state or totally rebuilt. At the same time, Constantinople was a capital in which the Ottomans were able to establish the new empire’s state customs.

The conquered city had a very different structure from the capital of late antiquity. This was mainly concentrated around the Golden Horn and the entrance to the Bosphorus. The three-town structure established around the sea, consisting of Istanbul, Galata and Üsküdar, is significant as the scheme of the original site beyond the city legends. This three-town structure was maintained over the sea during the Ottoman period, and expanded when Eyüp, on the tip of the Golden Horn, was included; thus the city became Istanbul, and the Bilad-ı Selase (three towns)—Eyüp, Galata, and Üsküdar—became its three administrative districts.

The question of whether the architecture in Istanbul during this period (and, as a scale of comparison, the Hagia Sophia and other Byzantine structures) drew on Timurid, Italian, or early-Ottoman precedents—that is, whether these structures originated from the East or the West —is disputed. This dispute concerns not only Mehmed II’s identity as a sultan but also the architecture of that period. The historiography of early Istanbul architecture is not free from political influence and is closely connected to the political identity of the city’s founder. There are sound interpretations that the diversity that appeared in the structures of Mehmed II’s reign is based on comprehensiveness in parallel with the sultan’s establishment of the empire, and that this in itself is a distinctive form of planning and esthetics. According to this approach, the architecture of the period should be examined in a selective interpretation, and in contextual transitions. In terms of the early period during which Istanbul was established as an Ottoman city, there was another criterion that Mehmed II’s architecture was continuously compared with: classic Ottoman architecture. A one-dimensional historic perception as such, and desire of witnessing reformation of the latter could have prevented architectural innovation during the reign of Mehmed II, and comprehending the complex architectural pattern created by integrating varied urban architectures.

1- Rumelian and Anatolian Castles (Melling)

2- Rumelian Castle

3- Anatolian Castle

Ottoman architecture also reached a significant stage in more recent stages of the reconstruction of Istanbul. The Edirne Yeni Sarayı (New Palace) and the Üç Şerefeli (Three Balconied) Mosque, which was commissioned during the reign of Murad II and completed during the period of Sultan Mehmed II, were early examples of an architectural accumulation that would also influence later architects of Istanbul. In particular the Üç Şerefeli Mosque introduced a new element in mosque architecture in that it had no function as a madrassa and its narthex courtyard was built as an independent space. It was also remarkable for its undivided interior space, use of different colored stones on the exterior, and large, 24 m wide dome.

4- Yedikule (Seven Towers) (Melling)


Architecture of the Siege

After the Asian side of the Bosphorus was seized by Yıldırım Bayezid, Constantinople was in real terms within the visual field of the Ottoman state. The Ottomans classified the Byzantine capital from the frontline and walls virtually as an island in its own waters for half a century. Construction during this period in the Bosphorus area, which was partially under Ottoman control, was mainly undertaken to support the military blockade. Yıldırım Bayezid commissioned the construction of a fortress known as Akçahisar, Güzelcehisar, or Yenicehisar at the point where the freshwater of Anatolia flowed into the Bosphorus. This was a military structure with a large square tower on the north side, five lower watchtowers, and walls 9.5 meters in height. Regarding the restoration to its original condition, it is assumed that there were three wooden floors in the large tower, and that the frame above was covered with a pyramid-shaped roof coated with lead plate.3 The transformation of Güzelce Hisar into a gunpowder artillery building occurred during the fortification of the Bosphorus in an attempt to obstruct Byzantine supplies prior to the siege conducted by Mehmed II. Under the new name Anadoluhisarı (Anatolian Fortress), it was expanded with relatively low walls by placing large stones on a partially filled area, and three circular towers were added on the northwestern side of the fortress. Openings were made on the low fronted walls wide enough to accommodate large cannons. Although the construction date is unknown, there were also records of an Anadoluhisarı Mosque in the deeds of the Mehmed II’s waqf (charitable endowment); however, this does not exist at present.

The construction of the main fortress commissioned by Mehmed II on the shore opposite Anadoluhisarı, in an attempt to block the narrowest point of the Bosphorus strait and fortify the shores, began in 1451–1452. The structure referred to as Kulle-i Cedide in the deeds of Mehmed II’s waqf (later known as Yenicehisar, Yenihisar, Boğazkesen, and Rumelihisarı), was constructed in an elaborate and monumental style. Usta Muslihuddin, architect of Edirne’s Üç Şerefeli Mosque, is reported to have designed the project, but there is no reliable documentary proof of this. However, it is known that it was constructed under the supervision of Sultan Mehmed II. The substantial fortress, which narrowed the shorefront, has a massive design camouflaged by the integration of natural topography on the lateral façade. In the words of Tursun Bey:

5- Yedikule (Seven Towers)

Vaktâ ki ol mevzı’-i matlûbı hıyâm-ı devlet ile muhayyem ve kudûm-i mübârek ile mükerrem kıldı, meher-i mühendisîn ve kümmel-i müneccimîn müşâveresi ile mahall ü sâ’at ihtiyâr olunup, kal’a bünyâdın urdılar. Bu vaz’ üzre, meselâ akar deryânın kenârında, hatt-ı müstakîm şeklinde bir bâru çekildi –ki müntehâ-yı bünyâdı merkez-i kürre-i arzdur– ve şerefât-ı bürûcından menâzil-i kamer seyr olunmak mümkin iki başında iki kulle –ki her biri rif’atte kille-i simâke müvâzidür– refi’-i metîni asl-ı bünyân ittiler. Ve bu iki kulleden kuru tarafına iki tâğ gibi depelere iki bâru çektiler ve yukaru mültekâsında bir muhkem firengî kulle yaptılar... Ve deniz kenârındaki bârûya, leb-i deryâya muttasıl bir hisâr-beççe yapıldı; denize açılur yiğirmi kapu konuldı ve her bir kapudan içeri bir ejdarhâ-yı âteş-bâr şeklinde toplar konuldı.4

When the desired place was equipped with state tents, when honored with his holy feet, after consultation with skilled engineers and the best astrologers, time and place were determined and the construction of the fortress commenced. In this way, a fortress wall was built as a straight line at the seaside, that this structure’s foundations extend to the center of the earth. They constructed two high and strong spires that mansions of moon can be watched over the height of its bastions, that were unique at height. They constructed a strong Frankish-style spire at the point where two walls met, the walls which were built on the hills at the land fronts of these two spires. A small fortress was built on the shore. Twenty gates were placed facing the sea, and cannons like a dragon spewing fire were placed inside each gate.

Cylindrical towers were constructed on three corners of the fortress; the construction was supervised by the viziers of Mehmed II. Based on its inscription, it is apparent that the highest tower on the southeastern side was built by Zaganos Pasha; the tower on the shore was named after Çandarlı Halil Pasha, while the tower on the northeastern corner was named after Saruca Pasha. The towers, whose walls varied between 5.5 m and 7 m, had a tiered, protected walkway system constructed by recessing the higher sections of the walls. In their original state, the towers had wood-framed, leaded, conical roofs. There are fortification walls between the large watchtowers, which ascend in accordance with the elevation of the main fortress, and small towers varying in shape are located along these walls. This was fortified particularly by the high, octagonal tower on the southeastern corner on the shore. The waterside gate beneath the Çandarlı tower was fortified with a second protective wall. The minaret is the only remaining section of a structure within the fortress walls that was endowed by Sultan Mehmed II and known as the Hisar Mosque.

6- Tophane-i Amire (Imperial Arsenal of Ordnance and Artillery)

The technology of large gunpowder weapons played a significant role in the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. The initial decree of the sultan in the new city after the conquest called for the damage caused by these weapons to be repaired and the city to be rendered safe from external attacks. The land walls were repaired under supervision of the qadi (Muslim judge) Hızır Bey. As in the case of the roads leading to the city, it may be assumed that repairs were made to the trench bridges. After the conquest, the gates that had been the main targets of the siege were identified with the names and burial places of individuals who displayed acts of heroism during the siege, such as Horoz Baba (Unkapanı); the gates were turned into historical sites commemorating legendary individuals, such as Baba Cafer (Zindankapı), believed to have been martyred during an Islamic siege of the early period. During the Byzantine period, the city gates and roads could also have more than one name, associated either with their functionality or with historical or religious events. Some of these multiple names remained in use (such as the Balat, Petri, and Balıkpazarı gates), while many changed (such as Bahçekapı, Unkapanı, and Ahırkapı). Documents of the Mehmed II period are a significant source of information about changes to the names of city gates during the transition from the Byzantine to the Ottoman era.

7- Tophane-i Amire (Imperial Arsenal of Ordnance and Artillery)

Yedikule: The Ottoman Contribution to the Architecture of the Early Gunpowder Artillery Walls

One of the most important changes to the defensive wall of the city, and the first project Sultan Mehmed II commissioned after conquering the city, was the Yedikule Fortress. In the words of Tursun Bey, it was “a fortress structure on a corner from which the sultan can dominate the land and the sea; the sturdy towers are covered with lead. It is so tall that it is visible from a two-day distance.”5

Yedikule, a fortified site where the Altınkapı (Golden Gate), one of the most important imperial ceremonial gates, is located, was formed by adding three identical cylindrical towers (similar to the large Rumelihisarı towers) and an octagonal tower to the three existing towers. In addition to the symbolic importance of the Altınkapı losing functionality, it was also significant in terms of reinforcing the defense against attacks from the sea and insurgency from within the city. Although Yedikule may be classified in some sources as a second castle-palace in addition to the palace constructed in the center of the city, the late period castle-palace in Yedikule on the corner of Byzantium, the Golden Horn was not used as a residence by Sultan Mehmed II like the Blakhernai (Tekfur) Palace. The fortress was restructured as a treasury, in particular to store the booty seized at the end of the conquest, and when necessary as a prison and a fortified neighborhood. The fortress was depicted in two anonymous sixteenth century Italian images as a dense settlement around the mosque endowed by Mehmed II.6 Yedikule’s design is striking. The fortress was built by incorporating the Altınkapı into the surrounding structures, with walls that recede inward between the large towers, forming a star shape, with the joining points fortified by towers. The star-shaped fortification pattern, which was considered ideal for cities and fortresses of the Renaissance period, is called trace Italienne (Italian design), and was new both in theory and in application;7 Yedikule was one of the first to be constructed. The use of the star shape in the construction of Yedikule is one of the architectural mysteries that remains unclarified in sources from Mehmed II’s reign.

8- Maiden’s Tower

Arsenals and Gunpowder Factories: The Ottoman Contribution to Gunpowder Artillery

In addition to the architectural fortification of the city and new structures, cannon production was established as a prominent defense industry, and the Tophane-i Amire (Imperial Arsenal) was constructed northwest of Galata outside the land walls. As the arsenal of Mehmed II’s reign was later modernized, its original condition can only be discerned from contemporary sources. Evliya Çelebi wrote: “Sultan Mehmed II first constructed a well-coordinated arsenal in the woodland. Then Bayezid-i Veli expanded this and made chambers.”8 Evliya Çelebi related that the artillery barracks on the coast were also built during the reigns of Sultans Mehmed II and Bayezid II. Two representations of the arsenal have survived from this period. The first is a drawing of two large, hipped-roof storerooms side by side in the Düsseldorf copy of the Buondelmonti map; this map not only provides specific details and symbolic scales of the structures, but also shows that these two structures were large storerooms, had narrow doors on the side, consisted of more than one floor, and had a flue and water mill. It also appears that production spread as far as the shore, and that large wooden piers were used to load the cannons. In the second representation, Vavassore’s map, similar details appear (a large pier, a hipped-roof building, and cannons), and a freshwater source is depicted as a water well.9

Gunpowder factories were initially positioned in the city during the reign of Mehmed II. Kritobulos stated that the sultan “ordered the construction of large, sturdy buildings to store weapons, cannons, and similar materials.”10 A gunpowder factory and magazine were established by converting buildings next to an old palace entrance and church near Atmeydanı, later known as the Aslanhane. The Galata Tower, located close to the place the Golden Horn chain was attached and to the Imperial Arsenal, was used as a gunpowder magazine until the period of Bayezid II. (The structure that is recorded as a mahzen (magazine) in the deeds of Mehmed II’s waqf was the Kurşunlu Mahzen (Leaded Magazine) of the later period.)

9- Galata Tower

Ceremonial Aspect of the Harbor Entrance: Kız Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower), Galata Tower, and Topkapı

In addition to the defense architecture of the Sultan Mehmed II period, we should also mention the entrances to the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. In the words of Tursun Bey: “At the entrance to the Istanbul harbor on the Anatolian side, a sturdy tower was built on stones emptied into the sea, and when the cannons were fired, ships were unable to remain in the harbor.”11

During this period, the Kız Kulesi was fortified by cannon openings made in a surrounding wall; on Vavassore’s map, the same location was recorded as “the place where the Turks guarded the passage.” In the Düsseldorf copy of Buondelmonti’s map, control of the harbor entrance is signified by the firing of cannons: in addition to those at Tophane, in the magazines, and on Kız Kulesi, cannons were also situated at the tip of the Yeni Saray (New Palace). Until the nineteenth century, firing cannons from the fortification on specific days such as weddings, Islamic festivals, and on the departure of a fleet became an important ceremonial aspect of the city; Mehmed II’s New Palace was named Topkapı (Cannon Gate) after the double-towered gate behind the cannons in Sarayburnu.

After the conquest, the Kilitbahir and Sultaniye castles were built on the Çanakkale Strait. Tursun Bey said: “As it gave no passageway to the enemy on both sides, Istanbul was a land of peace.”12 The defense structures of the Sultan Mehmed II period from Rumelihisarı to Yedikule and expanding as far as Çanakkale were all significant structures of the transition from the medieval to the modern era. As researchers such as Gabor Agoston have emphasized the contribution of Mehmed II’s reign to the development of gunpowder weapons, it is also possible to address its contribution to the emergence of defense structures incorporating gunpowder artillery in a similar manner.13 While advances in cannon technology continued, possibly the contribution of the Ottomans’ development of the defense structures in terms of this being a dârü’l-aman or land of peace, or at least for Istanbul, the 250 years may have been constricted to the Sultan Mehmed II period.

10- Tersane-i Amire (Imperial Shipyard) (Kasımpaşa), the walls surrounding the city, Galata Tower and Maiden’s Tower (Piri Reis, Kitab-ı Bahriye)

The City Walls: Training Fields, Hunting Grounds, Gateways, Villages, and Orchards

One of the significant aspects of the redevelopment of the city was the planning of the land wall as an extension of the city. According to the Ottomans, who expanded beyond the land walls of Bursa and Edirne, in Istanbul—which at one time was one of the largest walled cities and vacated settlement areas—the concept of “inside and outside the city” was somewhat different. (The 5.5 km distance between the Murat Hüdavendigar and Yıldırım Bayezid Complexes, depicting the area between Bursa’s land walls, is equal to the size of the area within the Istanbul land walls; the distance from the southern point of the walled city in Edirne to the Yeni Saray or New Palace outside the city walls is 3 km.) In military terms, apart from guarding and controlling the gateways, the establishment of agricultural areas near the city, military training grounds, designated hunting areas, and pastures for the palace’s and military’s horses, as well as the conservation of city water sources were all a part of the city’s defensive perimeter. Villagers inhabiting the land seized by Sultan Mehmed II were resettled in surrounding rural areas that had been destroyed during the siege, and assigned to preserve the hunting and agricultural areas in newly established settlements such as Belgrat Köyü (Village) and Arnavutköy.14 Kritovulos conveyed this in these words: “he placed the others in villages outside the city, and provided them with wheat, cattle, and other requirements so they would be self-sufficient for the time being by cultivating the land and farming.”15

11- Valens (Bosdoğan) Aqueduct

In the premodern period, it was necessary to meet the city’s demand for fresh fruit and vegetables from gardens within the city walls. In Istanbul, state orchards and vegetable gardens were also established to supply the palace and the military. Apart from Mehmed II’s campaigns, another mark that he left on the city landscape was the Tokat Gardens, which he commissioned at the site where he was informed of the conquest of Tokat while hunting in Beykoz.

On decree of the sultan, the hillside west of Galata where the military camp commanded the battle in the Golden Horn during the siege of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmed II was allocated as a military exercise ground called Okmeydanı (Archery Ground). Okmeydanı, which was commemorated as one of the first places where soldiers prayed during the siege, has an open-air prayer platform (namazgah) believed to have been constructed in the fifteenth century. The structure, which is the oldest known prayer platform in the city, consists of a platform area elevated on two rows of stone and a covered stone pulpit (later destroyed). The custom of praying at this location before departing on a military campaign was also described by the eighteenth century writer Eremya Çelebi.16 Edirne was the military base for the Rumelia campaigns during Sultan Mehmed II’s reign. As a sultan who did not participate in military campaigns, the pavilion built by Grand Vizier Davud Pasha in Istanbul being transformed into a military base during the Bayezid II period from where the sultan sent his army on campaigns bears great significance.

The Golden Horn and Kadırga Shipyards

According to İdris Bostan, a military shipyard was built in the Golden Horn in 1455.17 Kaptanıderya (Grand Admiral) Hamza Pasha was assigned to supervise the construction of the shipyard on the Hasköy section of Kasımpaşa Creek; several shipyards, a mosque, and an assembly hall were built there. This is verified by visual sources from that period. Vavassore’s map indicates that galleys were towed to the flat area west of Galata; the assembly area is depicted symbolically on the border of this space. The shipyard was expanded during the reign of Sultan Bayezid II; the first ship compartments appeared in Matrakçı Nasuh’s miniatures.18 When the new assembly hall was constructed on the site of the present Naval Command Base, the former preserved its existence; this can be seen in seventeenth century depictions. The cypress tree garden at Hasköy shipyard, seen west of the shipyard in Matrakçı Nasuh’s miniature, was ascribed to Mehmed II. Evliya Çelebi wrote that the sultan “planted twelve thousand cypress trees here like chess pieces.“19

12- Ayasofya Mosque and Hippodrome / Sultanahmet Square (details from Matrakçı)

The enclosed pier port in the land walls on the Marmara shore, known as the Iulianos or Sofia Port in the Byzantine period, was restored during the reign of Mehmed II, and from 1462 onward it was used as a shipyard for the Ottoman galleys. This area behind the sea gate from the pre-Ottoman period, called the Kadırga (Galley) Port, had a row of enclosed ship compartments, shown in images by Buondelmonti, Vavassore, and Matrakçı. The Kadirga Port was partially portrayed in the images of Istanbul by Hartmann Schedel; in those, a structure with a courtyard outside Topkapı Palace was depicted as being associated with stables. Although this area was redeveloped when the church east of the port was converted into a mosque called Küçük Ayasofya (Little Hagia Sophia), and its madrasa was constructed during the Sultan Bayezid II period, the port reserved for small ships was filled in with soil in the middle of the 16th century when the port was expanded.

Reconstruction of the Waterways: Kırkçeşme (Forty Fountains)

One of the most significant effects of the end of the Constantinople siege was that the water sources around the city became usable once again. Due to the threat of poisoning, cisterns began to be preferred over the late-Roman waterways for use during sieges in the middle Byzantine period. The issue of restoring the ancient waterways after the conquest is significant in terms of perceiving specific settlement decrees within the city. According to Tursun Bey:

Meğer İstanbûl’un ma’mûrlığı hâlinde, altı yidi günlik yoldan su gelmiş. Eski kâh-rîzler bulundı ki tağlar çiğerlerin delüp geçürmişler, ve ka’r-ı zemîne müvâzî derelerden, tâk-ber-tâk, kemer-ber-kemer yonma ruhâm-ı hâm ile tarsîf idüp, üzerinden bir nehri akıtmışlar. Ammâ havâdis-i rûzgâr ve savârif-i leyl ü nehâr ile harâb ü yebâb olmış. Ana merhere-i mühendisîn getürdüp, kal’ olmış tâklarını ve hasf olmış yirlerini meremmet ü tecdîd, belki tarsîs ü te’kdi ittiler. Ve bu kâh-rîzün etrâfında niçe sular bulunup, asla ilhâk idüp, bir nehr-i gazîr kamu yaylak suyını getürüp şehre akıttı... Bunun gibi suyı sarây-ı firdevs-âsâsına ve hammâmâta vü mahallâta taksîm itti. Ve mir mülâyim yirde, bir kemerde kırk çeşme itti.20

When Istanbul was built, water came to the city from a six- to seven-day distance. Some old waterways that penetrated the mountains were reinforced by marble arches on which the rivers were made to flow. However, they were ruined in time. Skillful engineers were brought there to have the arches repaired and reinforced by covering them with lead. Like these underground springs, many waters were combined, and all the plateau waters were made to flow to the city like a rich river. And these waters were distributed to the heaven-like palace on an arch in an available location.

According to Kazım Çeçen, Kırkçeşme was the most significant waterwork brought back into use during the reign of Mehmed II. When the old Valens Aqueduct (Bozdoğan Kemeri) was restored, the waterway from Cebeciköy into the city reached as far as the third hill. One of the old cisterns under the slope toward Unkapanı was restored and called Kırkçeşme.21 There were engravings of an elegant aquatic bird on the waterway structure from the Byzantine period; the fountain that appeared in fourteenth century drawings was later demolished during road expansion.


Ayasofya as a Grand Mosque

In terms of the Ottomans who observed Constantinople from its monumental land walls for 50 years, the most appealing landmark must have been the Hagia Sophia Church. The church, which was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian before the coming of Islam, was classified as a wonder, a symbol in the Islamic custom, and its architectural structure was believed to evoke spirituality.22 Following the conquest, Mehmed II, who declared that he owned a share of the buildings and land in the city and commanded the soldiers to take their share of what they were able to carry as spoils of the holy war, visited the Hagia Sophia, the most significant of the spoils, first and converted the church into a mosque. Although it was customary to convert a city’s most important religious structure into an imperial mosque following a conquest, the conversion of the Hagia Sophia, the masterpiece of Eastern Christianity, was the mark of a new era. The Hagia Sophia survived with this name, possibly because its name was not changed after the conquest. In addition to the spiritual significance of this transformation, the traces of the conversion within the structure are relatively modest due to the sacredness of the ancient structure. The church’s sacred objects and Christian structural elements were removed; a mihrab (altar) and minber (pulpit) were built facing Mecca. A prayer mat, which was a relic of the Prophet Muhammad, and inscriptions sanctifying the conquest were hung beside the mihrab.23 The original minbar, the source of which is unknown, was replaced during a restoration conducted during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid. The marble minbar that exists today is a rare sixteenth century artifact. A majority of the Byzantine mosaics, with the exception of those visible during prayer on the mihrab wall covered in plaster, still remain. The bell from the bell tower on the western side in the center of the entrance was removed; however, the tower remained untouched; it can be seen in visual sources dating until the sixteenth century. The cross on top of the dome was removed and replaced by a crescent. The first minaret of the reign of Mehmed II was built of wood on a support in the southern corner of Hagia Sophia’s western half-dome. When Mehmed II’s new mosque was constructed with two minarets, a second minaret was also added on the mihrab wall on the southeastern side of the Hagia Sophia mosque; this brick minaret still exists. Both of these minarets can be seen in Harmann Schedel’s schematic view of the city (in which the positions of the minarets are presumably reversed), in Matrakçı Nasuh’s miniatures (in which the Hagia Sophia was drawn from the southern side), and in Melchior Lorichs’s panorama of the city.24 As the only Friday mosque (where Friday prayers were generally performed) until the construction of the New Mosque (Fatih Mosque), the Hagia Sophia was a religious structure to which Mehmed II endowed all his assets; after the New Mosque, this is the second most wealthy waqf and possesses a large number of assets. In comparison with the minarets of the Üç Şerefeli (Three Balconied) Mosque in Edirne, which can be classified as works of art, Hagia Sophia’s minarets are remarkably modest and simple in both architectural and decorative terms.

13- The view of Old Palace from the Golden Horn (details from Lorichs)

Taps to provide water for ritual ablutions were built under a wooden porch attached to the wall of the side entrance on the southwestern side of Hagia Sophia; this ablution area, which was used until the construction of the şadırvan (ablution fountain) by Mustafa III, is visible in a seventeenth century drawing by Guillaume-Joseph Grelot. During the early years of the mosque, the old seminary was used as a madrasa; later, a madrasa was constructed on the southern side of the mosque. The madrasa, which continued to function until the construction of the madrasas in the Fatih Mosque, was used again during the reign of Bayezid II and reconstructed at the end of the sixteenth century, and ruins of its foundation still exist today. The renowned scholar Ali Kuşçu served as a professor in the Hagia Sophia madrasa during the reign of Mehmed II; the sundial opposite the fountains in the courtyard of the mosque is believed to have been invented by him. He also measured the latitude and longitude of Istanbul from the position of crescent on the dome of Hagia Sophia. (The Hagia Sophia dome was also used as the coordinate point of Istanbul in the 1776 Kauffer plan, the first scientific plan of the city.) As a spiritual and ideal structure, rather than being a criterion to defeat in terms of Ottoman architecture, the Hagia Sophia was transformed into a canonical work of reproducibility. It was the only church to be converted into a mosque within the peninsula during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II; the Arab Mosque (assuming that it was previously a mosque) in Galata was the only one of the four churches mentioned in the Hagia Sophia deed of trust, while the others (Zeyrek, Eski Imaret, and Kalenderhane) were put to different uses.

14- The gate of Old Palace. The funeral procession of Bayezid II (Şükri-i Bitlisi, <em>Selimname</em>)

Eski Saray (The Old Palace): Istanbul’s Forbidden Province

After the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque, the second major development decree was the allocation of a large area in the geometric center of the city for the construction of the sultan’s palace, which partially coincided with the old Forum of Theodosius; today, the location in question includes Istanbul University’s Beyazıt campus and Beyazıt Square. The palace grounds, which had a narrow rectangular shape measuring approximately 400 m × 840 m extending from the slope of the Golden Horn’s third hill to the main street of the city toward the northwest, were enclosed by high walls with four gates and no towers. According to historian Edirneli Ruhî, the architect of the building may have been Usta Muslihuddin, the architect of the Üç Şerefeli Mosque and the Yeni (New) Palace in Edirne.25 The ruined remnants of the previous structure were removed by the janissary corps immediately after the conquest; Sultan Mehmed II was able to live in the palace for the first time in 1455, and the construction of the palace continued until 1458. The northern side of the palace dominated the port area, which for that period was extremely busy; a section of this border was reduced during the construction of Süleymaniye. The area from the eastern façade of the palace to the port and the Byzantine Makros Embolos, which was later called the Uzun Çarşı (Long Portico), extended at a distance, providing a significant structure for commerce. Also, on this side of the palace, the bedesten (bazaar) that was built in parallel with the palace had a huge gate opening onto the center of the bazaar area around the bedesten. (In a waterway map dated 1812–1813, the Mercan Bazaar Gate was depicted as a huge, decorative gate.26) The western border began at the Bozdoğan Kemeri (Valens Aqueduct); there was also a palace gate on this side. The southern façade led to the main road including the Column of Theodosios, an example of a late-Roman imperial column, where there was another main gate. According to a written description of the funeral of Mehmed II in 1481, when the body of the sultan was being transported to the Yeni (Fatih) Mosque in a ceremonial parade, it was taken to the square in front of the palace and watched by the mourners of the harem standing on a terrace until the procession disappeared from sight.27 The gate in this depiction was possibly a kind of bâb-ı hümayun (imperial gate) and kiosk similar to the one constructed in Topkapı Palace later, and the square was in the status of the first courtyard in Topkapı Palace. However, the square and gate were demolished when the palace grounds were reduced in size when the site was moved to the north to create space for the sultan’s complex, and a new gate was built farther north. After Mehmed II’s decision to construct a new palace on the site of the old city of Byzantium on the edge of the sea, the Eski Saray (Old Palace), which was later renamed Saray-ı Atîk and mainly used as a harem, virtually became Ottoman Istanbul’s “forbidden city.” Information regarding the palaces’ structure within the land walls that survived until the Mahmud II period is generally unspecific and limited. Tursun Bey, historian of the Mehmed II period, described the guarded harem quarters, sultan’s pavilions, and servant boys’ quarters within large gardens and hunting grounds. Giovanni Maria Angiolello, who lived in Istanbul during the years before Sultan Mehmed II’s death, wrote that exotic animals wandered around a lake on the palace grounds. Giovantonio Menavino, a servant boy during the reign of Beyazid II, counted 25 buildings on the grounds. In Vavassore’s map, various buildings can be seen around the main structure in a space defined by a second wall within the outer walls; the domed structure that appears in the outer garden may be a Byzantine structure or a Turkish bath. In a study by Ayda Arel of the Edirne Cihannüma Pavilion in the Vavassore works, he noted that the structure “resembles a massive pavilion,” indicating that this may be a kind of pavilion with a panoramic view.28 In Lorich’s panorama, the large lead-roofed structure immediately above Sultan Süleyman’s tomb may also be a pavilion of this kind. In Matrakçı’s miniature, which depicts the plan of Topkapı Palace’s triple courtyard in detail, the structures in the outer courtyard of the Old Palace are so closely spaced that they appear as a single structure, with a high building group in the middle surrounded by other sections. Although there is limited information, because the structure suffered several fires in later centuries and was demolished in 1826, this palace’s four gates suggest large adjoining courtyards divided according to functionality similar to those of Edirne Palace. The only representation of this aspect is the partition walls that extend to the outer walls in Lorich’s panorama. In that portrayal, this is depicted by structures in a garden (a domed structure is visible at the lowest elevation) that covers a major part of the slope, comprising a group of buildings separated by an interior wall and retaining walls. On the hill west of this area, a group of structures with a courtyard was displayed within the complex; the building with a courtyard that was separate from the internal group of structures may have been the servant boys’ quarters or stables. Despite being secluded, the inside of the Old Palace occupied a special place in the center of the city and was a determinative factor in terms of urban affairs. Although the fortification of the palace was constructed with no land wall towers, the Old Palace, in terms of fortified administrative headquarters that appear in the Middle Eastern and Anatolian cities, was a fortress.

15- Old Palace, Old rooms, Covered Bazaar, Mint (details from Matrakçı’s schema of Istanbul)

Darphane-i Âmire (Imperial Mint)

One of the significant functions defining the status of the Old Palace as an administrative headquarters was the Istanbul Darphane-i Âmire (Imperial Mint). Although coins were minted in numerous cities during the Sultan Mehmed II period in an attempt to distribute Ottoman economic capacity, the first Ottoman gold coins were issued by the central mint in Istanbul. The Darphane-i Âmire in the former capital, Edirne, was situated opposite the Old Palace; similarly, Istanbul’s central mint was situated on the southwest corner of the palace on the city’s main road. In an old inscription of the building, the construction date was marked as 1463;29 the first Ottoman gold coin was minted there in 1467. The construction of Sultan Mehmed II’s New (Yeni) Palace began on the date mentioned above; again, the central mint was built beside the Old Palace. When the Beyazıt Complex was constructed, the mint was relocated opposite the Beyazıt Madrasa. During the reign of Mehmed II, the Darphane-i Âmire was not the only mint in the city; according to records from Mehmed II’s waqf, there was a stamp and coin mint in the Irgat Bazaar close to Çemberlitaş. The building in question was probably the sırmakeşhane (literally, house of the silver maker) mentioned in the seventeenth century by Evliya Çelebi. When the imperial mint in Beyazıt was moved to Topkapı Palace in the eighteenth century, this was replaced by the sırmakeşhane, and the upper structure was reconstructed under the name simkeşhane. During the widening of the Divanyolu (the road leading to the imperial council) in 1957–1958, with the exception of the southern with of the simkeşhane, the entire structure was demolished; however, there are photographs and plans of the building. Descriptions of the original state of Mehmed II’s imperial mint are found in Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatnâme (Book of Travels):

In Istanbul, there is an imperial mint close to Sultan Beyazıd. During the period of the non-Muslims, this was the home of a priest who owned rare and precious possessions. Later he built a large church with this wealth. Sultan Mehmed Khan demolished the church and house and built an imperial mint. The remains of the church can still be seen. It is like a fortress on each side. Sometimes it is guarded by dome guards, as when enthronement takes place and the coins are changed, ten kantars [1 kantar = 56.5 kg] of silver and 1 kantar of gold was processed into coins daily, and this gold was called gold of honor.30

16- Covered Bazaar / Grand Bazaar

The building described by Evliya Çelebi may have been the structure in Matrakçı’s miniature immediately to the right of the Beyazıt Mosque, an enclosed ground floor and a windowed and pillared section on the top floor under a curbed roof; Matrakçı used the same design for the Kürkçü Han in Mahmutpaşa with shops on the ground floor. Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi indicated that there was a madrassa in the courtyard of the imperial mint.31 The Monumental Arch of Emperor Theodosius, which was located in the simkeşhane and partially constructed on the foundation of the old mint in the 18th century, may have been the “infidel” structure mentioned by Evliya Çelebi. The late Roman monument was discovered when the building was demolished during road widening. Based on the excavation marks, it is possible to say that the southern section of the sırmakeşhane came up to the southern border of the Forum of Theodosius.32 The eighteenth century structure has a schema that is not particularly characteristic of that period, comprising corridors within a 50 m × 50 m border and rooms on either side. In the center of the courtyard, there is another section that coincides with the Arch of Theodosius within the same schema. While it refers to the masjid commissioned by Başkadın (Chief Lady) Emetullah, founder of the new building in the simkeşhane, Hadîkatü’l-cevâmi also indicates that there was another older masjid in the city that was donated by Sultan Mehmed II; this masjid was “commissioned to Ayasofya. It does not belong to a district.”33

Eski Odalar (Old Barracks): Janissary Corps Barracks

Another site that was built near the Old Palace was the janissary barracks. This was built at the location where soldiers raised the flag while entering the city during the conquest, to commemorate that event. The relocation of the janissary barracks from Edirne to Istanbul began in 1462. The place which was referred to later as Eski Odalar or Old Barracks, after new barracks were built in Etmeydanı, was situated on the road leading to Edirnekapı opposite the present Şehzadebaşı Mosque and Ibrahim Paşa Madrassa, south of the old Direklerarası (an area in the Fatih district). When the janissary corps was abolished during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II, the barracks were demolished. While the layout of the Old Barracks can be traced from the structural blocks in the grounds, the only section that survived as a structure was the Acemoğlu bathhouse, which was incorporated into a hotel structure. One of the oldest portrayals of the Old Barracks, from Mehmed II’s reign, was in the Vavassore map under the title “Stables and the Janissary Corps Barracks,” one section of which was illustrated as an angled, slanted rectangular structure with a courtyard. In the Düsseldorf version of the Buondelmonti map of the same period, the janissary barracks are portrayed in the shape of a continuous hipped-roofed structure surrounded by a large rectangular courtyard; several arched gates open into the courtyard, and many chimneys are depicted on the roofs of the building. It may be assumed that these gates and chimneys indicate the location of the janissary barracks; in this portrayal, janissaries were shown training on horseback in the courtyard. In Matrakçı’s 1537 miniature, the janissary quarters were depicted as two rows of buildings parallel to the Bozdoğan Kemeri (Valens Aqueduct); again, a range of gates and an equal number of chimneys were drawn. That the Old Barracks that was depicted under an integrated agriculture had a large number of janissary chambers is indicated by the names of the structures; Matrakçı’s miniature shows 47 halls with hearths and 55 beds, 21 booths, one lodge, and 26 stables serving 26 battalions. At least one section is known to have been demolished during the construction of the Şehzadebaşı Mosque. In view of the decorated beams mentioned in descriptions of the room interiors, presumably there was a wood-based frame system on the inside of the outer walls. Each of the barracks had its own kitchen, pantry, hall, and arbor; there were benches and divans in the dormitories. According to the renovation plan, unlike previous depictions of the Old Barracks in the inventory of Topkapı Palace, believed to have been built in the second half of the 18th century, the barracks were of a denser layout.34 A large number of single-story units are seen in a maze of narrow side streets, each containing a yard, lavatory, and front porch.

As portrayed in the renovation plan, the Old Barracks were restored several times; the most detailed representation of the latest condition of the structure was in the 1813 Beyazıt Waterway Map. The large numbers of barracks, the triangular structure in the west, and the slanted rectangular building in the east in two large courtyards, each with curbed roofs, appears in a row. On either side of the inner road between the courtyards was a monumental gate. This was the Altmışbir or Birler Kapısı (gate) leading to Şehzadebaşı; the gate at the other end was the Kırkdört Kapısı. Between the two gates, a yard through which the inner road passed is also portrayed. The Birler Kapısı was the ceremonial gate where the sultans met with the janissaries when departing to Edirne; traditionally, a sultan’s kiosk was constructed above this gate for the sultans who were members of the Birinci Yeniçeri Ortası (First Janissary Battalion). The eastern courtyard belonged to the Acemioğlanlar Barracks (for new janissary recruits); according to Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi, on the eastern side there was the Acemoğlu Hamam and a courtyard gate that was built during the reign of Mehmed II and restored during the reign of Süleyman I. A bazaar called the Acemioğlan Çarşısı consisting of 10 shops was registered in the deeds of Mehmed II’s waqf. In the same way that these shops may have been located on the side of the barracks, before the construction of Direklerarası (pillared bazaar in the Fatih district), it is also possible that they were on one of the other borders of the Old Barracks. Groups of buildings in a right-angled triangular courtyard in the west were defined as the Troop Barracks, belonging to the Troop Battalion. In the southwest part of this courtyard, there was a courtyard gate called Meyyit Kapısı. In terms of functionality, the Janissary Old Barracks may have been associated with the Saraçlar Çarşısı and the Atpazarı (saddlery and horse bazaars) on the eastern side of Sultan Mehmed II’s New (Fatih) Mosque; the stables were located close to the horse and harness makers’ bazaars.

The Osmanlı Hassa Mimarları Ocağı (Ottoman Imperial Corps of Architects) in Vefa, one of the most prominent districts of Istanbul, was the office of the chief architect. Some claim that this organization was located beside the palace in order to carry out construction operations around the Old Palace during the Sultan Mehmed II period.35 The chief architect’s site in Vefa was also associated with the Acemioğlanlar Barracks. The acemioğlanlar, who were the foundation of the imperial corps, were trained under the supervision of the Istanbul janissary commander and assigned to work on construction projects in the capital. Mimar (architect) Sinan was trained as carpenter in the Janissary Barracks. Thus, the Old Barracks played a role in the founding of Istanbul’s architecture organization.

17- The view of Tahtakale from the Golden Horn (details from Lorichs)

Bedesten Bazaar

The construction of the Bedesten (covered bazaar) and the open-air bazaar surrounding it is directly associated with the Old Palace, in terms of both time and location. Bedesten is the name given to the central bazaar area, consisting of grid-planned small shops in the tradition of Middle Eastern Islamic cities. But in the context of the Ottoman cities, the Bedesten—also known as a caesaria or basilike in the Roman and Byzantine periods, kaysâriye in Arab Islamic culture, and timjah in Iranian cities—is a kind of large covered space within a bazaar, where valuable goods are stored and sold. The construction of the Bedesten in Fatih began during the winter of 1455–1456 and was completed in 1460–1461. The structure, also known as the Cevahir Bedesten (Gem Bazaar) and Eski Bedesten (Old Bazaar), still exists and continues to function. Constructed 200 m from the city’s main street and 50 m from the large main road, the Uzun (Long) Bazaar, leading down to the sea, was planned to accommodate a bazaar or commercial area around the original structure; this enabled the bazaar to spread over a larger area beginning at the end of the Mehmed II period.36 The interior space of the Bedesten covers about 1,500 m2, with three rows of five bays, sustained by large piers surmounted by octagonal tambours and bearing 15 domes. The bazaar absorbs sunlight through arched windows on the upper walls, aligned with the domes. While the plans for the bedestens of Bursa and Edirne prior to Istanbul appear as long, two-rows-wide, domed spaces, the distinction of the Fatih Bedesten was the covering of the area by multiple domes, similar to those used previously for the great mosques. Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu interpreted this new kind of bedesten as a continuation of the large, multicolumned architecture of the trade corporations in the western Mediterranean.37 The bedesten, which was recognized by westerners who visited the Ottoman city in the sixteenth century, was occasionally mistaken for a temple. Along the wall of the interior space of the bedesten, there was a row of vault closets under the windows, extending outward to accommodate valuable goods. In the center, as at present, were shops with wooden stalls. The entrances from neighboring streets to the four sides of the inner bedesten were closed at night with iron gates. There is a row of vaulted shops along the outer wall of the Ottoman-style bedesten. The side streets housing the shops are covered with a three-section vault system mounted on columns. The side streets, which vary from 7.76 m to 8.55 m in width, are cross-vaulted, whereas the narrower, higher aisle in the middle is plain-vaulted; the skylights are situated on this central plain vault. This columned system does not exist on the eastern side at present. An embossment representing an eagle from the Byzantine period was positioned on the arch above the gate on the eastern side. This symbol has led some scholars to suggest that the bedesten may have existed before the period of Sultan Mehmed II; however, in reality this was an artifact that was placed there later. The placement of the eagle symbol in the bazaar may also be perceived as a message that the state system, in terms of international trade, would continue after the conquest. The bedesten is an original structure from Mehmed II’s reign, whereas the architecture of the columned and arcaded streets around it had existed since the late Roman period, and some of the enclosed Byzantine streets were recorded as kemer during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II. It is believed that during that period, the covered streets of the Bedesten Bazaar were enclosed, with shops on each side equaling the width of another street. In total, including those in the arched streets around the 122 shops inside and outside the bedesten, there are 265 shops. According to waqf records, there were 1,141 registered shops in 1472 including those in the side streets.38 When the shops not registered in the Fatih Sultan Mehmed waqf records were added to these figures, there was clearly a large bazaar development on the hillside in front of the palace.

18- Unkapanı, the Column of Arcadius located in Women’s Bazaar is in the background, and Yedikule (details from Lorichs)

Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi indicated that the Sandal Bedesten constructed at the beginning of the 17th century was replaced by the Mahmutpaşa Bazaar. The Bodrum Kervansarayı from Mehmed II’s reign is said to be located in the eastern part of the bedesten and partially beneath the Nuruosmaniye Mosque. Waqf records indicate that there were 14 shops and nine rooms around the two-story, 32-room structure. The two-story, 98-room Sultan Hanı (later known as the Beylik Kervansarayı) with its 42 shops was located in the Daye Hatun Mahallesi (district) north of this structure. Ayverdi indicated that the site of this han (commercial building) should be researched in the area north of Mahmutpaşa Mosque, opposite the Mahmutpaşa Hamam.39 The Çemberlitaş district, where the Sultan Han and Bodrum Kervansarayı were located, constitutes a second route, beginning at the Mahmutpaşa Complex, leading down to the port in parallel with the Uzun Çarşı.


The military barracks, imperial mint, and bedesten bazaar created a prominent schema—commanding fortress, bazaar, and imperial mosque—in the Islamic city around the Old Palace, built partially on an already existing city texture. The commercial area above the Golden Horn extending down to the port, known as “beneath the citadel” (kalenin altı), which still exists, was later renamed Tahte’l-kal’a or Tahtakale. This district was the densest settlement area of the late Byzantine period, including both the inner and outer areas of the seawalls extending along the port. Primarily, the bedesten area and the port were connected via the Uzun Çarşı (Long Bazaar); this arterial road which defines the route as an old main street of the city, extended from the south to the north in parallel with the wall of the Old Palace, splitting at the level area close to the port gate and finally reaching the shore. Below the bedesten in Tahtakale, there was a much different pattern of trade. In almost the entire area of this urban texture divided into small plots, there were shops, depots, and storehouses on the ground floors of the buildings, while religious institutions and residences were located on the upper floors. Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu pointed out that the roads were paved with stone as they were in the Byzantine period, and that in documents the main roads with shops on either side were referred to as zukak or sokak (street) rather than tarikü’l-âm or tarikü’l-has. A document dated 1486 states that four arterial roads were paved: the Uzun Çarşı from Sırt Hamam to Tahtakale Hamamı (the Turkish baths), the street between Odun and Balıkpazarı Gates, an undefined road between Mehmetpaşa Hamam and a house belonging to someone named Salto, and the “sultan’s mounting road” extending along the seawalls.40 There were two major sea ports at the point where Uzun Çarşı and Tahtakale joined: the ancient Byzantine Saint John Carnibus Gate, referred to in early records as Fesleğen and Vasiliko Gates and later known as Zindankapı and Yemiş Kapı, and, further to the west at the end of the main road extending in parallel with the land walls, the Drungarios or Vigla, later named Odunkapı. In addition to the smaller commercial structures, large hans (commercial buildings) were also recorded: Eski (Old) Han in Odunkapı; Odunkapı Han, possibly the same building; the Has Murat Paşa Han in Timurtaş Mahallesi in the same district; Şeyh Davut Han; and Yemişkapanı Han. The deeds of Mehmed II’s waqf state that the Yemişkapanı Han had 11 süfli (ground floor) rooms, 18 ulvi (upper floor) rooms, and 16 surrounding shops. It is uncertain whether this han was at the same location as the building later known as the Balkapanı Han, whose discovery revealed that the structure actually dated as far back as the Venetian colony period.41

Tahtakale Bazaar and Tahtakale Hamam

In terms of the Ottoman cities, Tahtakale is generally described as a part of a large bazaar or commercial area (in these terms the Fatih Bedesten Bazaar is also classified as Tahtakale). But according to Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu, in documents from the time of Mehmed II, which differ from the later period, Tahtakale is the name of a distinctive place and large flat area within the Fesleğen Gate, where the land wall protrudes, a semi-open-air bazaar referred to as sahn. In Lorich’s 1559 panorama, which provides detailed and reliable information about the shore area, the bazaar canopies in the area immediately behind the gate are clearly visible. The borders of the platform behind one of the city’s sea gates, and the beginning of the Uzun Çarşı, define two important structures of that period: the Tahtakale Hamam and Hacı Halil Masjid, built by Sultan Mehmed II. The Hacı Halil Masjid was located on the site of the Rüstem Paşa Mosque, built in the sixteenth century and presumably constructed on an earlier Byzantine structure. The Halil Paşa Masjid is the first known Ottoman religious structure in the city, constructed by the endowment made before 861 (1456–1457); and although the masjid does not exist today, despite transformation, the Timurtaş Masjid in the same area gives a general idea of the structural characteristics of the Sultan Mehmed II period. The Hacı Timurtaş Masjid is a square stone building with a hipped wooden roof built over two ground-floor storerooms or shops that open onto the street. The minaret rises from a corner of the structure’s wall. The top floor is reached via a wood-framed extension.

19- Galata (Melling)

The Tahtakale Hamam (which is currently used as a bazaar) is located on the corner across from the southwestern side of Halil Paşa Masjid at the point where Tahtakale and the Uzun Çarşı meet parallel to the sea gate. The hamam has sections for men and women, unequal in size. The men’s section’s large, high-roofed cooling room is followed by warming and hot rooms. The warming room is a spacious muqarnas-bordered area under a single dome. The hot room is domed and has an octagonal base defined with high arches; there are five bathing bays around this, with three rest rooms on each of the two sides. The women’s section is smaller, and its design is asymmetrically linear. It is interesting that the Tahtakale Hamam, situated in a port and commercial area, served both men and women; the fact that the population in the area during this period consisted mainly of non-Muslims may explain this. Since the construction of the Murat I Hamam in Iznik during the early Ottoman period, the custom of constructing large monumental hamams continued in Istanbul during the period of Mehmed II. It is important to assess those who occasionally competed with the domes of the viziers’ mosques in places such as Tahtakale where the hamams were the only monumental domes, in terms of the conditions of the particular time. In this context, Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu raised the question that in neighborhoods and districts where the non-Muslim population prevailed, the state, which chose not to stand out with these non-Muslim religious structures via the waqfs, administered this service by constructing hamams. The Tahtakale Hamam is one of the most supportive examples of this study from the period of Mehmed II.

Inside and Outside the Walls: Flour, Oil, Dried Fruit, and Port Customs

The bazaar district that Mehmed II constructed in great haste spanned a large area; this space was intended to cater for the people who were encouraged to settle in the area. The main priority was to meet the vital needs of the city population, including those that directly served the state, such as the military and members of the palace—by providing food, heating, clothing, and other supplies. In the Golden Horn, that almost became an international free port in the last two centuries of Constantinople. While international trade was generally restricted to Galata during the early years of Ottoman Istanbul, the old commercial districts in the peninsula were converted into areas for the supplies of the capital. In supplying the city, while proximity was sometimes the main consideration (for example in obtaining fresh fruit and vegetables), in some cases the priority was to source supplies from the state’s different tax regions. It is likely that a supply zone was formed during Sultan Mehmed II’s reign that included the Black, Marmara, and Aegean Sea regions. A customs plan was developed that, in essence, remained in place for 400 years. Some of the provisioning appear to have been a continuation from the Byzantine period, based on the names found in a deed title count dated 1455.42 In principle, the area in front of the walls between the city walls and the port was owned by the sultan; different customs zones were created in the section of the domain above the port area for various functions. The main customs area of the city, called the Gümrük Kapanı, was established at the site of the present Eminönü Square. In Mehmed II’s trust deeds, this was described as “Haric-i kal’a’da Gümrük Kapanı demekle maruf bir beyit. Dört tarafı tarik-i amla mahduttur.” (“It is the place outside of the fortress known as Gümrük Kapanı. It is surrounded by public streets.”) The document summarizes the function of the customs house in these words: “Mahalle-i mezburu etraf ve aktardan Daru’s-saltanati’l-aliyyeye emtia ile gelen tüccardan, müslimînden rubu’ öşr ve ehl-i zimmetten nısf öşr ve harbiden uşur almak için vakıf buyurup şart buyurdular.43 (“They endowed the district in question with a stipulation that a quarter tithe be extracted from the merchants and Muslims who bring goods to Istanbul from neighboring districts, a half tithe from zimmis, and customs duty from the foreigners.”) In the same location, a masjid called Gümrükönü was constructed adjacent to the land wall; according to Hadika (a gazette published in the Ottoman period): “Banisi Ebu’l-feth Sultan Mehmed Han hazretleridir. Vazifesini Ayasofya vakfından ta’yin eylemişdir. Mahallesi yokdur. Der meydan-ı Gümrük.”44 (“Its founder is Fatih Sultan Mehmed Han. He provided salary expenses from the Ayasofya [Hagia Sophia] Foundation. It does not have a district. It is located in Gümrük Square.”) Mehmed II transferred a section of the land around the customs house to Şeyh Mehmed-i Geylani. The Bursa Tekkesi Mosque, also known as the Arpacılar Mescid, was built here. This is a masjid built on three shops adjacent to the land wall toward Bahcekapı. In Vavassore’s map, this location was noted as the Bursa Iskelesi (port), and as it was onshore, it is likely that this was the customs house; it was portrayed as a large building with a curbed roof. Lorichs’s panorama provides a broader depiction of the customs house. In this map, a large curbed-roof building is shown enclosed by walls; in the center of the roof, there is a skylight or a ventilation lantern. The large Istanbul customs building at the location in question served for many years. Additional buildings and wooden mansions were constructed around the main customs building as offices for state officials. Evliya Çelebi described the status of the building in the seventeenth century as follows: “This custom house consisted of multiple mansions on the shore of the prominent place in Istanbul which was the customs headquarters. There was a large magazine structure of stone.”45 Additional evidence of the magazine constructed during the Mehmed II period, possibly the last view of it, is the panoramic photograph taken by Robinson from the Galata Tower in 1854. The description of the Gümrük Kapan (customs area) used in records from Sultan Mehmed II’s reign is significant, as all of the places in Istanbul named kapan from the early periods. Unkapanı, Yemişkapanı, and Yağkapanı were all called kapan during Sultan Mehmed II’s reign. The word kapan, derived from the Arabic kabban and Persian kepan, means a large scale. Bazaars or caravanserais have been identified where such scales were placed to weigh goods and collect taxes since the early period of the Ottoman Empire. In these terms, the kapans and deposits were the municipal customs entities, the official weighing sites and distribution centers.

20- The early state of Eyüp Sultan Complex

21- The inner view of the tomb of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari

22- The tomb of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari

23- Eyüp Sultan Complex

After the Gümrük (Customs) Kapanı, a salt storehouse situated between Balıkpazarı and Zindankapı and encircled by roads on four sides, was recorded in the waqf deeds; during later periods, there was a Tuz Emaneti (salt deposit) and a relatively high tower with a shore in front. A significant structure of the port area in front of Zindankapı toward Odunkapı was the Yoğurtçular Mosque (also recorded in references as Kanlı Fırın and Ahî Çelebi). The building was later restructured by Mimar Sinan. This may be the curbed-roof structure with a minaret that appears on the shore in Matrakçı Nasûh’s 1537 miniature. Although Unkapanı was referred to as a district and bazaar with 33 shops and seven cabins, there is no specific information regarding the kapan. In the deeds of the Hagia Sophia waqf, Unkapanı was registered together with two flour storerooms. Sâî Mustafa Çelebi wrote that Unkapanı may have been restructured by Mimar Sinan after the great fire of the 1560s. In Lorichs’s earlier panorama, due to vast numbers of ships on the shore, the Subaşı Süleyman Mosque appears beside a high fenced area with a hipped roof, a common form of that period. Apart from the two flour storerooms mentioned in the Hagia Sophia records, it is likely that Unkapanı was an open-air storage area; this would explain why it was not included as a building in the initial count and waqf records. The structure, built by Mimar Sinan after the fire, was a large stone-walled storage building with a hipped roof, similar to the Fatih Gümrük Kapanı; its first image appeared in an unknown Venetian panorama dated 1590. In addition to Unkapanı, there was also a timber warehouse with six shops belonging to Mehmed II’s waqf. There was a tannery in this area close to the shore. The arsenal later referred to as Tüfkenhane was located to the west of Unkapanı. The waterfront mansions where Mehmed II’s own pençiks (the one in five captives who were assigned as soldiers after the conquest) were stationed (35 of whom were donated by the sultan) were used as a fishery; the taxes obtained from this belonged to the sultan. Presumably, this is why there were mansions on the shore of Balıkhane (fishery) next to Unkapanı: “Otuz bâb beyittir ki sahil-i bahirde bina olunmuştur, haric-i Kal’adedir. Zikrolunan büyut Balıklığı demekle maruftur. Cebe Ali kapısına ve Gün [?] kapısına ve Küngüz kapılarına mukabildir. Mabeyn-i tarik-i am fasıldır.”46 (“These are thirty houses located seaside. They are outside of the castle. These houses are known as Balıklığı. They are opposite to Cibali Gün [?] and Kündüz gates. There is not a public road among them.”)

24- Mahmut Paşa and Atik Ali Paşa complexes and the column of Constantine (details from Lorichs)

Galata as a Mahzen (Magazine)

In the 1455 inventory of Istanbul structures, a kapan was mentioned in front of the fortification gate in Galata. This kapan, which was later referred to as Yağkapanı, was presumably the customs zone of the Genoese city.47 Buondelmonti depicted this in his 1481 map as a curbed-roof building on the shore. Like the area in front of Zindankapı, this area was also crowded with structures between the shore and the land walls. The fact that a majority of the structures in Galata were referred to as cells or magazines in the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Waqfiyya indicates that a relative part of the city’s density and structural inventory inherited from the Genoese was constructed of stone. Although the Galata Bedesten (bazaar) may later have been attributed to the reign of Mehmed II, there is no accurate information on when the building was constructed in documents recorded by the Ayasofya waqf since the end of the 16th century. One of the most significant operations during the reign of Mehmed II was the conversion of the large Dominican church San Paolo into the Arap Mosque. As it was taken during the invasion of Galata, this conversion was described as returning a structure that had previously been a mosque to its original function. The bell tower was converted into a minaret.


The first mosque Mehmed II built outside the land walls in Istanbul, after the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, was the Eyüp Mosque, constructed in front of the tomb built on the burial site of Ayyub al-Ansari, which was discovered in 861 (1456–1457), three years after the conquest. First the tomb and then the complex of a mosque, madrassa, hospice, and Turkish baths were built as an imaret of the tomb; in a waqf document dated 1491, this imaret was recorded as imaret-i türbe-i mutahhara (imaret of the tomb of purity).48 Prior to the conquest, there was a monastery on this site dedicated to Saints Cosmas and Damian, who had been renowned healers, and the district was known as Cosmidion. Although this was not a factor in the choice of location, the construction of the Eyüp Imaret outside the city walls was consistent with earlier Ottoman construction outside Bursa and Edirne.

The Eyüp Sultan Complex, to which many annexes were added following the Mehmed II period, was almost totally restructured following an earthquake in 1766. With the exception of the tomb, information regarding the building is mainly based upon archeological discoveries. One of the most important documentary sources is the work of Evliya Çelebi, who described the features of the mosque in the middle of the seventeenth century in these words:

This is a large mosque ….. dome on a flat surface. There was another semidome on the side of the mihrab. There were no pillars in the mosque with such high domes, there were sturdy arches around the center dome. Its minbar and mihrab were not artistic. It had two doors. The side door and qibla door was on the right. … There are two balconied minarets on the right and left of this mosque. Three sides of the courtyard are adorned with madrassa chambers. …This courtyard also has two gates. However, there is another large courtyard on the western side.49

25- The inscription of Mahmut Paşa Mosque

According to this, the narthex elevation consisted of a courtyard with a madrassa on three sides, while the tomb was situated separately on the northwestern side of the mosque. The connection between the madrassa and mosque is a continuation of the early zaviye (lodge) mosque layout. The tomb, being the focal aspect of the mosque and located in an enclosed yard behind the mihrab wall in a specific concept, may also be classified as a practice of the early period. The Eyüp Sultan Mosque was the first of a number of mosques with integrated madrassas built in Istanbul (such as the Şeyh Vefa, Küçük Ayasofya and Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Mosques). The Eyüp Sultan Tomb is the oldest Ottoman monumental tomb retaining its original form in Istanbul. It is an octagonal structure with a domed roof and limestone walls. Three sides of the tomb are located toward the courtyard in the visitors’ section, built during the reign of Ahmed I. On the side there are two rows of windows in molded frames. The top row is made up of lancet windows in a rectangular molded area; above the lower windows there are inlaid stone arches. The leaded dome sits directly on top of the walls. The inner decoration of the tomb changed and became denser over time. The Qur’anic verse inscribed in the center of the dome is believed to originate from the time of Mehmed II. The Eyüp Sultan Tomb was the first classical-era tomb.

26- Mahmut Paşa Mosque

There are three different views regarding the restoration of the Eyüp Sultan Mosque during the reign of Mehmed II. According to Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi’s restitution, the wall of the narthex area stood further back from the space where the minarets are currently situated, and the mosque had a 26 m × 11 m rectangular plan. The harim (prayer area) had a dome exceeding 10 m and two semidomes on either side supporting it. The mihrab was in the form of a rectangle protruding outward beneath a small semidome.50 When this restitution was approved, the Eyüp Sultan Mosque may have resembled the Şeyh Vefa Mosque, a structure that was also built in the later part of Sultan Mehmed II’s reign. According to another restitution proposed by Aptullah Kuran, it consisted of spandrels in the center supporting a full dome and two tabhanes (hostels) on each side of the semidome on the qibla wall.51 This schema may correspond with Matrakçı Nasuh’s miniature depicting a minaret and tabhane on both sides of the mosque; however, it is also possible that the side sections in this portrayal may be sections of the madrasas. According to a third view, which appeared feasible to Kuran and was supported by Kafesçioğlu, there was a semidome toward the mihrab of the mosque; in this way, the design resembles the Fatih Mosque and the Rum Mehmet Paşa Mosque. The second minaret was added to the mosque, which was initially built with a single minaret after the construction of the Fatih Mosque.

In the Eyüp Complex, there was a Turkish bath and soup kitchen on the western side of the mosque from the time of Mehmed II. The Eyüp Hamam, which is a double Turkish bath, is still used in its original state. According to Baha Tanman’s narration; it consists of a cooling area (soğukluk) covered by a square roof and dome, a domed warming and relaxing area (ılıklık), a domed, square hot room (sıcaklık), and open-fronted, vaulted areas on the sides.52 It also has a square halvet (private bathing section) covered by three squinch domes. According to Tanman, the imaret—consisting of domed units including a kitchen, storeroom, bakery, and firewood storeroom—was demolished. In accordance with settlement policies under Mehmed II, inhabitants from Bursa were relocated to the Eyüp Sultan district; over time, Eyüp, which had 10 neighborhoods, became one of the city’s three towns (Eyüp, Galata, and Üsküdar). The Divanyolu was an important land route to Eyüp that played an important ceremonial role beginning during Sultan Mehmed II’s reign; the other important route was the road reached through a wooden gate known as the Eyüp Ensari Gate in the port area at the end of the road extending in parallel to the land wall, where the wall ended in Ayvansaray.

27- Atik Ali Paşa Mosque


The Ottoman historian Enverî noted that after the expedition in 1458, Mehmed II returned to Istanbul rather than Edirne, and made this the capital.53 This is noted as the transition from the rushed projects commissioned by Mehmed II in Istanbul immediately after the conquest to larger, more long-term projects. While the Sultan initiated these large projects personally, he also encouraged his viziers and state officials to improve the capital with new, attractive buildings. As Kritovoulos described it:

Later, the sultan summoned the wealthy high-ranking officials and those of privileged positions, and ordered them to build grand, imposing residences in any part of the capital they chose. He called on them to construct hamams, commercial buildings, bazaars and shops, mosques and masjids, and adorn the city with such structures and spare no expense according to their wealth and ability.54

The Mahmutpaşa Imaret: Istanbul’s Architecture in Bursa

Sadrazam (Grand Vizier) Mahmud Pasha (a member of the Angelovic and Palaiologos families educated in the Enderun School, also known as Veli) was one official who responded to Sultan Mehmed II’s call to develop the city. Mahmud Pasha, who became the grand vizier in 1456 at the time when the sultan began to reside in Istanbul for longer periods, served in this position until 1468; he was appointed as kaptanıderya (grand admiral) and was assigned as grand vizier for a second term from 1472 until his execution in 1474.55 The building of the Mahmutpaşa Complex began at the same time as the construction of Sultan Mehmed’s New Palace in 1459, and a major part of the complex was completed in 1463. Kritovoulos wrote:

In addition to all of these, the person ranked immediately after the sultan in the state hierarchy, who was granted great privileges and [was] responsible for the state administration … Mahmud, also constructed a huge, superb mosque in a prominent area of the city. Its clear stone and marble shone and it pillars stood out with their size and grandeur. The mosque was adorned with the finest examples in the arts of painting and sculpture. It gleamed with the gold and silver used during the construction of the mosque, and was decorated with many gifts and donations. A soup kitchen, hostel and Turkish baths, which attracted admiration with [their] grandeur and size, were constructed around the mosque. In addition, he built grand, stately palaces with gardens in which there were all kinds of plants, where he could entertain, welcome and please the people. He brought water to the city in plentitude, and fulfilled the sultan’s command by conducting many similar duties. He established charitable organizations using his own means, and improved the city to the best of his ability.56

28- Atik Ali Paşa Mosque

29- Rum Mehmet Paşa Mosque

The complex can also be defined as the formation of a second trade route from north to south in parallel with the first extending from the bedesten that was established by the endowments of Mehmed II, down to the Tahtakale port area. Mahmutpaşa, to where the trade route ended at the Balıkpazarı-Bahçekapı district, attained greater significance as the first gate of the city port after the construction of Sultan Mehmed II’s New Palace. The choice of the New Palace’s location was significant in terms of distinguishing the layout of the area extending east and west from the Mahmutpaşa Complex, and from the bedesten to the palace. In terms of its layout, planning, conception, and architecture, the Mahmutpaşa Complex was described by Doğan Kuban as a continuation of the most excellent examples of early Ottoman architecture that appeared in Bursa.57 Although sections of the complex either were destroyed or deteriorated, some prime examples have been preserved in their original form. The complex was the only Ottoman structure, with the exception of the Sultan Mehmed II structures, depicted as the Mahmutpaşa Imaret in the 1481 copy of the Buondelmonti map.

30- Has Murat Paşa Mosque

According to an inscription on the mosque, the building was completed in 1462. It is the second largest mosque (after the Eyüp Sultan Mosque) outside the land walls and the largest mosque inside them. It was built on the site of an ancient church, according to the Hadîkatü’l-cevâmi and Mahmud Paşa Menkıbesi. One of the most important features of the mosque was the mihrab wall, in parallel with the outline of the structure, not being situated accurately toward the qibla and slanted slightly toward the south. The mosque and a room of the madrassa remaining from the original structure are situated on a right-angled parceling system expanding from the Fatih Bedesten. The Mahmutpaşa Mosque was situated on a prominent location on the road from the port, either due to the existing Byzantine structures on the land or the Fatih Bedesten. In 19th century photographs, the mosque appears on the main road leading up from the port. If the street constituted by the northeastern side of the Kürkçü Han (possibly pursuing traces from the Byzantine period), which was built by Mahmud Pasha, being visible from the son cemaat yeri (narthex) side of the mosque is not a coincidence, it was planned. Although the road was named after the Mahmutpaşa Complex, the visual effects among the structures have partially disappeared amid the dense structure of the present period. In Lorichs’s panorama of the port in the mid 16th century, the mosque was depicted beside Çemberlitaş with its main double dome and side domes, with a huge hamam and caravanserai on the lower elevation.

The Mahmutpaşa Mosque is typical of the early-Ottoman imaret style known as a zaviye mosque, described as a 25 m × 12 m high central space beneath two identical domes, with two smaller domed rooms on either side. The domed rooms on the eastern and western sides are separated by vaulted corridors. In the same way that the large main space did not open the form of vaulted sections on either side like the Bursa zaviye mosques, there was also no difference in the elevations of the front and mihrab domes. The arch between the domes was constructed in a manner that would not form a distinctive spatial segregation; these were joined to the walls by pendentives. None of the original decorations remain on the site. The mosque has a five-domed narthex porch; the area leading from the narthex porch into the mosque resembles the entrance of the Bursa Yeşil Mosque. Although documents from that period indicate that the rooms with separate entrances from the mosque’s courtyard served as lodgings for the dervishes, these rooms have no chimneys, which raises doubt regarding their functionality as lodgings. Others have suggested that this may have been the location of the Mahmutpaşa Court, which was never accurately defined. This view is also supported by the fact that the street from the eastern gate to the west of the mosque’s courtyard in front of the narthex is defined as Mahmutpaşa Mahkeme (Court) Street in Pervititich’s maps drawn in the 1940s.

31- Has Murat Paşa Mosque

Stone and marble were used on the outer walls of the Mahmutpaşa Mosque. While the outer walls were monochromatic, the narthex area was more colorful. Pierre Gilles, who visited Istanbul in the middle of the 16th century, wrote that there was a second mosque beneath the Atik Ali Paşa Mosque, and that he saw two columns of porphyry, two white columns with blue lines, and two white-specked green columns on the porch at the entrance of this mosque; these columns were coated with stone after fires during the 18th century.58

The main structure, which contrasts with the single-colored mosque (apart from the narthex), is the tomb that was completed in 1473, 10 years after Mahmud Pasha completed the mosque and a year before his execution. The tomb, south of the mosque, may be classified somewhere between the early period and classic period in terms of size, architectural proportions, and decoration. In addition to this being a repetition of the format of the octagonal Eyüp Sultan Tomb, which was constructed first in terms of proportions, a continuous vertical frame was created between two story windows, and the interiors of these partitions over the lower windows were decorated with ceramics. The ceramics’ design and use of dark blue and turquoise were a continuation of the style of the early period; this is one of the last examples of the tradition of decorating tombs with ceramics. The ceramic star decoration was repeated both at the geometrical joining points and above the arches over the top-floor windows. The tomb was located so it would clearly be visible from the street leading from the bedesten.

32- Sheikh Vefa Complex

On the continuation of the bedesten bazaar, there is the courtyard of the Mahmutpaşa Mosque, bordered by streets. The courtyard that blended in with the structures joining to the wall had three gates, one aligned with Mahmud Pasha’s tomb, another south of this, coinciding with the narthex’s middle dome, and another in the southeastern corner. The outer courtyard of the mosque was identified with the madrassa that was partially situated on the top elevation in the east, and with the exception of the classroom, was totally demolished. (The layout before the demolition can be seen in the Ayverdi map dated 1878–1882.59) The U-shaped courtyard facing the madrassa, mosque, and in particular the tomb, is surrounded by rooms, and there is a classroom in the southeastern corner. Although madrassas were independent structures in early Ottoman architecture, it appears that these were focused around the mosques in various forms in Istanbul during the reign of Mehmed II , and established an interaction with these structures both in the planning and visual basis. A public tap is located at the northeastern gate of the courtyard of the Mahmutpaşa Mosque. As defined in studies of the public taps and fountains in Istanbul, the public tap is an urban component that, before the 18th century, only appeared during the reign of Mehmed II; the Mahmutpaşa Fountain is a cubic, undecorated fountain with verses inscribed above it. This fountain and its surroundings are significant in terms of the concept of urban space and public squares in the architecture of Istanbul.60

33- The early state of Fatih complex (details from Lorichs)

The Mahmutpaşa Hamam is located at the junction of the road extending from the narthex courtyard and fountain toward the port to the northwest, and a street eastbound from the bedesten; it was opened in 1466. This hamam, like a majority of the hamams of the Sultan Mehmed II period, was a çifte hamam (a double bathhouse with male and female sections); however, only the male section survives. This section resembles the Tahtakale Hamam, both in its rectangular schema of a soğukluk (cooling area), ılıklık (warming room), and sıcaklık (hot room), and in the size of the main cooling-room dome. Photographs of the muqarnas entrance, set in a pointed arch, and the cooling room dome, taken for Gurlitt’s study at the beginning of the 20th century, reflect the monumental scale of the Ottoman city.61

The Kürkçü Han, one of the largest commercial structures from the 15th century, is located south of the entrance to the hamam, on the left side of the road leading down to the port. It is built around two courtyards, one of which is almost square and the other irregularly shaped. The section with the square courtyard, on the southern side of the han, is of the same dimensions as the Fidan Han, built by Mahmud Pasha in Bursa. There are 96 rooms, 48 on each floor; this similarity is impressive in terms of the standards implemented while forming the commercial networks of that period. The Hacı Küçük Mosque was built above the shops in the center of the southern courtyard of the han. The section around the southern courtyard of this mosque has lost its features. The southern section appears to have been constructed irregularly to accommodate an old road system. In Gurlitt’s photos, the ground floor appears to consist of closed storerooms and to differ from the upper floor.

Another endowment of Mahmud Pasha was the grand vizier’s mansion. This is believed to have been located close to the wall of the New Palace on the site of Bâbıâli, the later headquarters of the Ottoman state. The western border of the palace grounds passed by the Servi Masjid and Mahmutpaşa Madrassa, and the southern border by the Palace Hamam and Acem Ağa Mosque (converted from the Chalkoprateia Church of the Byzantine period). The Mahmud Pasha endowments cover a huge area from the Mahmutpaşa Bazaar in the bedesten to the New Palace. The scope of populating this area immediately above the port was also a striking example of the extensiveness of intervention in the city.

The Üsküdar Rum (Greek) Mehmet Paşa Imaret

In 1468, after the initial dismissal of Mahmud Pasha, Rum Mehmed Pasha, who completed a three-year term as grand vizier and was a member of the late Byzantine aristocracy, began to develop Üsküdar, the site of the port on the Anatolian side of the city. Although Üsküdar was under Ottoman control from the Yıldırım Bayezid period, there are no architectural traces of the Ottoman presence prior to the conquest of Istanbul. The Rum Mehmed Pasha Complex in Üsküdar was significant in reviving the central port on the Asian coast. The Rum Mehmed Paşa Imaret, built on the western slope of a hill overlooking the Bosphorus and the entrance to the Golden Horn, consisted of a madrassa, hamam, and bazaar, and is believed to be located independently from the complex of the pasha’s palace in Vefa, west of the Old Palace in Istanbul. The plan of the Mehmed Paşa Mosque reveals characteristics such as a Bursa-style domed main area and division of the mihrab area; the zaviye chambers open directly into the main area of the mosque. The placement of a semidome on the mihrab wall equivalent to the radius of the mosque’s main dome, built in parallel with the construction of the Fatih Mosque, is the only piece that was clearly documented and that still exists today. The prime features distinguishing this mosque, which dates partially to the early Ottoman period and partially to the Sultan Mehmed II period, are the arches supporting the dome, which were accentuated exteriorly as a façade element like the arches of Ayasofya; the use of pointed arches on the upper structure; and the use of brick on both the arches and the walls. The dome windows, which were arched beneath, reflected the Byzantine influence. The classic, octagonal Rum Mehmet Paşa Tomb, resembling the Eyüp Sultan Tomb, displays Ottoman features. The madrassa was located on the south of the mosque; but by the 17th century, this structure had already fallen into ruins. Waqf records indicate that there was a bazaar called the flea market housing 50 shops on the site of the present Rum Mehmed Paşa’s Yeni Valide Mosque in Üsküdar.62

Aksaray Has Murat Paşa Complex

Has Murat Pasha, who descended from the Byzantine aristocracy, was a statesman who served as the governor of Rumelia. The complex of the same name was constructed around the same period as the Rum Mehmed Paşa Complex. The complex was an imaret that supported the formation of a settlement area in its vicinity. It was built close to the Marmara shore of Istanbul on Bayrampaşa Creek, among the ruins of the Byzantine forums (Bovis and Amastrianum). Kafesçioğlu indicated that the use of forums in the construction of complexes, and the transformation of ruined forums into public spaces, were ways to populate the area.63 The district where the Has Murat Complex was located was known as Aksaray, due to the population brought there from Aksaray. The Has Murat Paşa Mosque has many features of the early Bursa-style masjids. Behind the five-domed narthex porch, there are two identical domes toward the mihrab and a high central space. The domes are divided by a deep, pointed arch, and the domed area where the mihrab is situated was separated by raising it four steps above the ground level. The first dome is joined to the wall with triangular segments in the corners, while the second is joined with muqarnas pendentives. On each side of the first main dome there are two rooms; these rooms are canopied by two domes and have entrances from outside.

34- The early state of Fatih complex (details from Matrakçı)

Although the madrasa that was located on the southwestern side of the mosque does not exist today, indications of the plan can be found in old maps; it resembled the Mahmutpaşa Madrasa and had a U-shaped courtyard opening toward the mosque. The çifte (twin) hamam situated in the east covered an area almost as large as the mosque; the domes of the soğukluk (cooling area) and the mosque were equal in size. The hamam had entrance domes situated asymmetrically in opposite directions; it was built so the sıcaklık (hot room) in the women’s section was integrated with another section. This hamam was demolished during the 1950s to make way for road construction.

35- Fatih Complex

Şeyh Vefa Imaret

Mehmed II donated two buildings close to the Old Palace to the sufi tariqas. The first of these buildings was a church from the Byzantine period (possibly the church of the Kyriotissa Monastery), located southwest of the Old Palace and northeast of the Eski Odalar (Old Barracks); it was donated to the Kalenderi (Qalendariyyah) tariqa. An imaret was built for Şeyh Vefazade, probably on the site chosen for the vizier mansions west of the Old Palace, north of the gate where the palace’s Bozdoğan Kemeri (Valens Aqueduct) ended. The roof of the Şeyh Vefa Imaret, completed in 1476, was designed lengthways with a high dome in the center and a semidome on either side, reached through a flat arch. The joints from the semidomes to the side walls are secured by quarter domes, which are not apparent externally. The mihrab was semioctagonal and semidomed and protruded from the outer wall; adjacent to this was the sheik’s çilehane (room of seclusion). Among structures from the reign of Mehmed II, there was an unregistered madrasa on the northern side of the mosque, which shared the same courtyard; the structure may be associated with the Eyüp Complex in terms of either the roofing or the madrasa–mosque connection. A hamam was also built in order to subsidize the imaret; following the death of the sheikh, the imaret was transferred to the sultan’s waqf as an imperial mosque. Both the area where the imaret was located and a square were named after the sheik. The hamam was located west of the imaret and north of the Vefa Meydan (square). On the western side of the square, a structure and courtyard called the Vefa Han appeared in plans from the beginning of the 19th century. This or the square itself was the place Evliya Çelebi identified as Otluk Emanet’s hay storage area outside Ahırkapı. The square, which left a mark in later periods both with its magnitude and as a hay storage area, should be considered in conjunction with the nearby Atpazarı (horse bazaar), the Eski Odalar (Old Barracks), and the Eski Saray (Old Palace).

Among the churches seized during the conquest, with the exception of Kalenderhane, the Monastery of the Pantokrator was initially in operation until the construction of the madrassa of Sultan Mehmed II’s New Mosque was completed, and was later donated to Molla Zeyrek as a madrassa. In all likelihood, the Pantepoptes Monastery was first converted into an imaret and later into a masjid called the Eski Imaret Mosque. Until the construction of the Fatih Complex, a building known as the Aristo Bimarhanesi served as the only hospital in the city.

36- Fatih Mosque


The five years following the conquest were spent establishing the security of the city and defense facilities against external threats, converting the Ayasofya into an imperial mosque and procuring revenue via waqfs to ensure its survival, reestablishing the necessary infrastructure and commercial networks in order to secure provisions for the population, establishing the headquarters for the new administration, and repopulating the city. These interventions were mainly restricted to the city center close to settlement areas of late-period Constantinople. Probably the most significant endeavor during this process was convincing the religious and military groups who participated in the conquest that Istanbul should be the new capital. Sultan Mehmed II began to reside in the city for longer periods, signifying that this was to be the new administrative center. Then, in 1459, a turning point in dealing with the capital as a whole again, Sultan Mehmed II initiated two big projects in an attempt to refashion the city into an administrative center with a totally different urban structure. Initially this involved the construction of the sultan’s imaret and the erection of the New Palace on a site coinciding with Byzantium, the ancient city on the tip of the peninsula. Due to their huge scale, these projects took decades to complete; they formed the basis of the architecture for the new capital.

37- Fatih Mosque

Fatih Complex Plan: Disputes Regarding the Design and Architecture

The site Mehmed II chose for his own imaret was the Church of the Holy Apostles, where the graves of the emperors were located, which was built by Constantine the Great (who transformed the city into the capital during the Late Antique period) and later reconstructed by Justinian I. The main higher education institutions of the Byzantine period were located near the church. Greek sources verify that after the patriarchate church Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque, the Church of the Holy Apostles was given to the first Orthodox Patriarch, Grannadius Scholarios, appointed by the sultan, establishing this as a new patriarchate. During the inventory of 1,455 structures believed to have been built by the former governor of Bursa, Cübbe (Cebe) Ali Bey, a site called Badrak Mahalle (Patriarch District) was identified, and an unused church there was registered. This district, which had 12 Greek households, a lower proportion of Greeks than other areas, may have been formed around the Church of the Holy Apostles.64 Because the area surrounding the church was isolated and therefore classified as insecure by the patriarch, and due to unrest when the body of a janissary was found there, the area was abandoned. Instead, Gennadios was given the Pammakaristos Monastery, which was converted to the Fethiye Mosque at the end of the sixteenth century.

In 1459, following the decision to build an imaret on the site of the Church of the Holy Apostles, the long process of demolition and the opening of the foundation area on the entire property began. The relevance between the siting of the Church of the Holy Apostles and Mehmed II’s New Mosque was a greatly disputed issue; Wulzinger and Ken Dark are among those have claimed that the church was immediately beneath the mosque. A seismological stratum analysis was recently conducted beneath the Fatih Mosque, and layers from the Ottoman and Byzantine periods were identified; however, these were insufficient to reveal a specific structure plan.65 While a foundation northwest of the mosque courtyard, whose functionality remains uncertain, supports this view, this deems querying the accuracy of the qibla direction of the Fatih Mosque that was also to determine the entire plan of the complex. In reference to the ruins of a large cistern in front of the Karadeniz Madrasas with a trend resembling the Bozdoğan Kemeri (Valens Aqueduct), the Byzantine researcher Albrecht Berger maintained that the Church of the Holy Apostles was not located directly at the center of the Fatih Complex, but rather in the eastern corner.66 The demolition of the Church of the Holy Apostles, a huge structure which appeared in sources such as the Buondelmonti map, was probably as difficult as the construction of a new building. Some reports from the Ottoman period state that the remains of the church were visible after the construction of the complex. İdris-i Bitlisi, writing at the beginning of the sixteenth century, stated that he saw the site and the ruins of the church; an anonymous Greek chronicler from the 1510s stated that the remains of the church were on the southern side of the mosque.67 Regardless of how or to what extent this information conflicts, the symbolic significance of Sultan Mehmed II’s imaret being constructed on the second-greatest religious structure of the Byzantine period and the church with the bodies and tombs of the emperors is tremendous. The tomb of Sultan Mehmed II, who reconstructed Istanbul, replaced the burial place of Constantine, the founder of Constantinople, after whom the city was named. During the demolition of the old structures, some of the great porphyry tombs were discovered; these were included in the sultan’s treasury and transported to Topkapı, and at present are exhibited in the Archeology Museum.

38- Fatih Mosque

The Fatih Complex was designed as an integrated structure on a geometric system. The complex was the first monument of a new era in terms of transforming the planning conception of the early Ottoman complexes, where the main structures were positioned independently according to the natural contour of the land. This imaret, including those built later, was the largest complex of Ottoman Istanbul; when the surrounding bazaar areas—such as Saraçhane, a trust of Sultan Mehmed II—are added to this domain, the complex within the city expands even farther. Even the Süleymaniye Complex does not have a planning area and geometric form on the scale of the Fatih Complex.

The mosque and narthex courtyard of the Fatih Complex is situated in the center of a huge square, each side measuring more than 200 m. The distance from the square’s entrance wall to the mosque is almost 60 m; the area extends 70 m east and west of the madrasas. Four main madrasas are situated on both sides of the square, each equal in size and design, and the preparatory madrasas were separated from these by a 7 m wide street on the lower elevation. The square is reached from two gates and roads on each of its four sides. On the west, there were two gates from the sides of the school and library aligned precisely with the sides of the mosque (the Börekçi Gate on the southern and Boyacı Gate on the northern side). On the opposite side, there were two aligned gates, Türbe to the north and Çorbacı to the south. In addition, there were two gates on both sides leading to the square between the madrassas, which also served as a form of terracing on the elevation of the land; the entrances to the madrassas were in the square entered through these gates. Although this square was known to have trees, this landscaping was probably much different than the layout of the green-bordered areas designed in the twentieth century. The most significant references, in terms of the integration of the madrasas with the complex, were the structures called baş (head), baş çift (head twins), ayak çift (foot twins), and ayak (foot).

In the identical square areas of the complex defined by their own walls, each of the sides measuring almost 100 m, which was separated from the square by a road almost 7 m wide on the southeastern side, there was a hospital, and in the other, there was a tabhane (hostel), imaret (soup kitchen), and caravanserai. There was a courtyard between the hospital and hostel on the continuation of the mosque plan. Indicating that the graveyard situated behind the qibla wall of the Fatih Mosque and the tombs in the graveyard were built during the Bayezid II period, Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu also suggested that in its original design this space on the continuation of the square was probably an open area. If this is true, then it may be that in its original state, the garden between the hospital and the hostel was planned as a graveyard. Another argument is that this large garden was left to accommodate the remains of the Church of the Holy Apostles, whose marks are said to appear in certain sources. In either case, the integration of the garden and the graveyard without a road in between separated the two circulative stems from the front of the narthex courtyard until Saraçhane.

39- Fatih Mosque

40- Fatih Mosque

41- Fatih Sahn-ı Seman (Mediterranean) Madrasa (Court of the Eight Madrassas attached to Fatih Mosque)

The planning perception in which the functional aspect of the Fatih Complex as a whole was analyzed, in the scope of a geometric precision and monumental symmetric construction, differed somewhat from the early Ottoman sultan complexes. In particular, the location of mosque in the center of the huge grounds was certainly a new concept. Although independent structures were also situated on a large area in the constructions of the Ka’ba and the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, these were sacred places of unique characteristics which served the masses that came to perform the hajj, and were not the subject of grid planning extending to the surrounding urban area, like the Fatih Complex. An example close to its own era was the Ragistan square, consisting of large madrassas around a square built by Tamerlane in Samarkand. This consisted of three monumental structures surrounding a square, which is not subjected to a division in functionality or focused around the mosque. Although urban grids were known to have existed in certain districts of Constantinople since the Late Antique period, in order to explain a grid plan on this land facing the Kabah with multi-layer reference, excavation is necessary. Mehmed II was known to employ philosophers and artists not only from Islamic territories but also from the Italian states. In these terms, disputes that the plan of the Fatih Complex emerged under the influence of the Renaissance urban ideal, and moreover the influence of the Ospedale Maggiore plan in Milano designed by the Renaissance architect Filarete (Antonio di Pietro Averlino, 1400–1469).68 Although Tursun Bey used the term Frenks (Europeans) when describing Mehmed II’s New Palace, no such connection was found regarding the Fatih Complex in sources of that period. It is known for certain that the New Mosque and its madrassas were built by a freed architect of Greek decent named Sinan-i Atık (also known as Christodoulos).

Yeni Cami (New Mosque): Mosque of the Conquest

The sultan chose the highest and most beautiful location in the center of the city, and ordered the construction of a mosque that would rival the largest, grandest sacred structures in the city. He commanded that the building should be constructed with pellucid marble, grand, tall pillars, and large quantities of iron, copper, and lead, and that all materials be of good quality.

The sultan personally supervised construction of the mosque and palace with great care. He took care to provide high-quality materials and assigned the best construction experts, stonemasons, and carpenters, and other experienced and skilled artisans. The sultan constructed large, appealing buildings equivalent in size to the largest, most spectacular ancient structures of the city. To accomplish this, it was necessary to supervise large numbers of employees, use materials of the best quality, and inspect the huge expenses this incurred.69

42- The Tomb of Gülbahar Hatun

Mehmed II’s New (Yeni) Mosque (Cami-i Cedid), sometimes also called the Fethiye Mosque (the mosque of the conquest), which opened for worship on New Year’s Day 1470–1471, was not the Fatih Mosque of the present. The structure was severely damaged in the earthquake of 1766; the covering, consisting of a smaller central dome and four semidomes, was totally reconstructed. (The restoration, which began in 1770 under the supervision of Sarım Ibrahim Efendi, was completed in April 1771 under the supervision of Izzet Mehmed.) It is agreed that the entrance wall to the mosque and the narthex courtyard date from the Mehmed II period and that its alignment toward the east and west of the mosque was almost identical. In written portrayals (Evliya Çelebi, Hadîkatü’l-cevâmi) and images (1533 drawings by Pieter Coecke van Aelst,70 a miniature by Matrakçı, Lorichs’s panorama, an anonymous panorama from the 1590s,71 the plan of Scarella72, and, possibly the most impressive of all, the Köprülü Waterways Map73), an accurate idea of the restoration of the original New Mosque can be obtained. A plan illustration of a dome on two large pillars and three semidomes is believed to be a sketch of the Fatih Mosque. The first known restoration was conducted by Mehmet Ağaoğlu in the 1920s;74 the drawings of Ali Saim Ülgen, Süheyl Ünver,75 and Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi contain similar details. According to these, the original Fatih Mosque had a top covering consisting of a central dome 26 m in diameter, a semidome of the same size over the mihrab, and three small domes placed symmetrically on both sides; the interior of this top covering had two large buttresses where the dome and semidome joined, and the large dome was supported in the midline on both sides with large pillars. The dome was relatively high compared with its diameter; the highest point was approximately 44 m. The three domes to the right and left of the drum of the central domes to the lower level was shaped like a frame integrated with the porch of the narthex area; the integration point was divided with two single-balconied minarets situated symmetrically. The other three sides of the narthex courtyard were at a lower level than the entrance porch. In Matrakçı Nasûh’s miniature, the façade formed by the wall of the central dome wall over the domes of the narthex is visible. It is known from visual sources of the period that a similar wall formed by the windows opened in accordance with the vaulting was on the eastern and western dome fronts. The mosque was separated from the square by a difference in elevation. As in the current mosque, there were two walls protruding outward on both sides of the northern entrance of the narthex courtyard. There was also a Sardivan (fountain) in the center of the courtyard and four cypress trees on each corner of the Sardivan. The elaborate grey marble gate of the narthex area bears an inscription. The main space is reached directly from steps on the right and left sides from the square. It differed from complexes built in later periods in that the mosque was not separated by its own garden walls from the surrounding spaces.

Tursun Bey said: “Ve ol yirde Ayasofya kârnâmesi resminde bir ulu câmi’ bünyâd itti –ki cemî’-i sanâyi’-i Ayasofya’ya câmi’ olduğından gayrı, tasarrufât-ı müte’ahhırîn üzre nev’-i şîve-i tâze ve hüsn-i bî-endâze bulup, nûrâniyyette mu’cize-i yed-i beyzâsı zâhirdür.”76 (“By taking Ayasaofya as an example, there he constructed such a big mosque that apart from bearing all the arts of Ayasoyfa, and being extremely beautiful and a new kind in accordance with the recent period intellect, the intensity of its splendor is explicit.”)

However, the dome of the Fatih Mosque is smaller than the Ayasofya dome and similar in size to Usta Muslihiddin’s Üç Şerefeli Mosque in Edirne. The size and height of the dome appear to be the most important aspects, as Mehmed II allegedly accused Atik Sinan, the mosque’s architect, of lowering the porphyry columns and therefore reducing the structure’s height, and sentenced him to death. Historian Ruhî said: “The famous architect Sinan built the New Mosque and emitted the height of the madrasa windows; this was the reason for his death.”77 There is a similar narration on the gravestone of Atik Sinan in the courtyard of his own modest mosque, known as Kumrulu, situated in Kıztaşı close to the Fatih Complex: “The architect Sinan, may the grace and peace of Allah be upon him, departed from this world in the dark waterside prison after the isha (night) prayers on Friday, the 27th day of the month of Rabi I, 876 (13 September 1471).” This evokes the situations that Mimar (Architect) Sinan, who followed in the footsteps of Sinan, the martyr of architecture, was to avoid; According to Sâî Mustafa Çelebi, during the construction of the Süleymaniye Mosque, Süleyman I warned his architect: “Remember the fate of my grandfather’s architect!”

The tombs of Sultan Mehmed II and his wife Gülbahar Hatun were constructed in a graveyard adjacent to the mosque during the Bayezid II period. However, the tomb of Sultan Mehmed II was severely damaged in the 1766 earthquake and rebuilt under the supervision of Haşim Ali Bey after 1766 in accordance to the architectural conception of a grand tomb. The original form of the tomb appeared until the seventeenth century in views of the city amidst the woodland rising over the madrasas. In a drawing of the mosque by Scarella at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the tomb was depicted as resembling the tomb of Ayyub al-Ansari.

The Madrasas

The eight madrasas, which appear in the plan of the Fatih Complex as spectacular elements in terms of their numbers, position, and proportion, were known collectively as the Sahn-ı Seman, Semaniye (eight courtyards). As the state’s higher education institutions, the madrasas were situated on both sides of the mosque and named Akdeniz (Mediterranean) and Karadeniz (Black Sea) in parallel with the conception of the great empire; also, these were known as baş (head), baş orta (head middle), ayak orta (foot middle), and ayak (foot) within the body of the complex. In addition to the madrasas, which specialized in different sciences, this was also an institutional representation of the education of scholars for both the capital and other places. The symmetric and similar textural structure of the madrasas also reflects the religious view of the learned class expected to be educated here. This vision was possibly portrayed best by Tursun Bey: “Ve câmi’in ba’zı taraflarına, sekiz medrese, vaz’-ı rûşen ve resm-i ahsen üzre, yapturdı. Ve nefâyis-i kütübden tefâsir ü ehâdis ve fürû’u usûl-i menkûl u ma’kûl, sanâdik-ı mahmûl birle, dârü’l-kütübde mevzû’ kıldılar.” (“And he had eight glaring madrassas constructed next to the mosque. Also, he established a library of the most beautiful books on Tafsir, Hadith, and other subjects”).

Despite their dominant position in the plan of the complex, the madrasas, whose construction began around 1470 with the other monumental structures, were relatively modest in terms of construction techniques, decoration, and scale. The pillars of the pointed arched porch of the courtyard were not marble; the arches of the Akdeniz madrasas were constructed of alternating brick and stone, while those of the Karadeniz madrasas were built of brick arches on stone pillars. In addition to the decoration of the entrance gates, the window arches were bordered with unglazed ceramics fixed with plaster; these were not present in the Karadeniz madrasas. Each of the rooms and porches was covered by a leaded dome; accordingly, the madrassas are known as leaded spaces. The main derslik (classroom) or masjid was never located on the axis of the main entrance doors. The section facing the entrance was vaulted with a slightly raised dome. The main classrooms, situated on the courtyard’s axis, were entered not from the courtyard but through a connecting space also accommodating the teacher’s room and reached through side pillars. The stone-walled classrooms were adjacent in the twin madrassas; therefore, in depictions of the city that showed the structure of the complex as a whole, these were portrayed as a spectacular rhythm of large blocks in the form of single-double-single masses. In the madrasas, which had 20 rooms, there was a hearthstone and chimney in each room; each room had a relatively high ceiling. The courtyards were paved in stone with a pool in the center. There were also bathing quarters in a courtyard next to the classrooms. While the Semaniye madrasas have been preserved to a certain extent, at the beginning of the twentieth century the Karadeniz Tetimme (preparatory) madrasas below these were converted into primary schools with the same configuration; the Akdeniz madrasas were demolished to make way for a road. The madrasas are closely related to the imaret (soup kitchen) located in the complex; according to Tursun Bey, “On one side a large soup kitchen was built to provide two sufficient daily meals for the students of the madrassas, visitors, and poor people in the neighborhood.”78

43- Topkapı Palace (details from Lorichs)

The Hostel, Hospital, and Çukurhamam (Sunken Baths)

A structural section consisting of a hostel, kitchen, soup kitchen, and caravanserai was located on a plot sloping toward the south on the southeastern corner of the Fatih Complex. Among these structures, the hostel is currently the most recognized and preserved. The area around the porched courtyard formed of three arches on the entrance side and five along the length of the yard consists of various sized rooms. The columns of the domed courtyard porch are made of marble, and its arches are sharply pointed. The mosque entrance is emphasized by a raised porch dome, and behind this a large, domed, elevated masjid leading onto a wide, open courtyard; its dome is joined to the walls by muqarnas and pendentive surfaces. In the plan, the masjid is so large that it protrudes from the hostel’s structure.79 There is an open space on the continuation of the porch, in front of the masjid and adjacent rooms; the decoration of the stone pillars supporting this open space is remarkable. The domed rooms protrude on both corners in front of the hostel’s main entrance; when considering these similar structures, this may be characterized as a somewhat unusual forecourt. In the large walled space on the southeastern corner of the complex outside the hostel, there were structures situated at different levels, probably due to the partial elevation on the land, known as the imaret meaning the soup kitchen, and the Deve Kervansarayı. Large vaulted storerooms belonging to the caravanserai were discovered by Ayverdi. However, this discovery was insufficient to perceive the entire plan of the caravanserai, which was defined in sources as a large structure. This space was said to be used as an area integrated with the hostel; references state that animals belonging to those who stayed in the hostel were fed free of charge for up to three days.

The first structure of the complex to be destroyed was the hospital; the masjid resembling that in the hostel may have been preserved for a while longer. This masjid had a protruding semioctagonal mihrab resembling those in the Eyüp and Şeyh Vefa Mosques; this continued to be used under the name of Demirciler until its demolition at the beginning of the twentieth century.80 The 1823 schematic drawing discovered by Süheyl Ünver is the most significant source on the restoration of the hospital; this was portrayed as a building in a square courtyard enclosed by walls. In fact, its layout is similar to that of the hostel. There are also a porched courtyard, a masjid, and a row of rooms beside the masjid, and in front of these on the continuation of the porch, placed symmetrically, there were two vacant semi-open spaces. In the schema, the corner spaces and the masjid were portrayed as equal in size. In view of this, it is necessary to examine the high domed structures in front of the Fatih Mosque that are portrayed in an early-sixteenth-century drawing by Pieter Coecke van Aelst, which shows the view, from the mihrab wall, of a Friday procession commencing from Atmeydanı.

44- Topkapı Palace, The walls of the city, Ayasofya, Sultanahmet / Horse Square, and Sultanahmet Mosque

On the northern side of the hospital was the Çukur Hamam, typical of the large double hamams from the reign of Sultan Mehmed II, situated at a lower elevation. This was demolished in the middle of the nineteenth century, but the plan is clear from a drawing by Charles Texier.81 According to this, it was a full double hamam, and the male and female sections were almost equal in size. The male section greatly resembled the plan of the Mahmutpaşa and Tahtakale hamams; in the plan, the large domed soğukluk (cooling area), domed ılıklık (warming room), and sıcaklık (hot room) were aligned within a square outline. In the female section, secluded areas were located in the corners where the ılıklık and sıcaklık met. In depictions of the city, the Çukur Hamam was portrayed distinctively at a lower elevation than the hospital and tombs.

Grand Fatih: The Kahraman Bazaars, Saraçhane, and Atpazarı

On the two roads leading southeast from the Fatih Complex, there was the Küçük Kahraman Bazaar and then the Büyük Saraçlar Bazaar, owned by the waqf of Mehmed II, consisting of 10 shops. Evliya Çelebi described both the Atpazarı (horse bazaar) and Saraçhane (saddle and harness makers’ bazaar) together under the heading Atpazarı Emaneti: “the whole group of saddle/harness makers’ apprentices are complete. … The work places had four gates like fortresses, large trading areas with an elevated mosque, and a fountain and pool in the center. Neither the Arabs nor the Persians had such a great saddlers/harness maker’s bazaar. This was the building and endowment of Sultan Mehmed Han in Karaman dated 859.”82

Nineteenth-century documentation indicates that the Saraçhane Bazaar, which may have been restored to a certain extent, was a large bazaar consisting of an external shop surrounded by small shops distributed on a grid plan in the center. The Atpazarı was located around two irregular courtyards on the northern side of Saraçhane; the texture retains its nineteenth century condition. The Fatih Caravanserai, Atpazarı and Saraçhane, and even Vefa Square were elements of a large service area intended for those visiting the city, the military, and the palace. A road extended from the eastern tip of the Saraçhane Bazaar north to the Unkapanı Gate, where horse- or mule-powered mills were aligned, and there was a bazaar bearing the same name as the gate at the end of this road. As horses were used in these flour mills, the Atpazarı and saddlers and harness makers were clearly positioned in a significant location of the city.

Another bazaar extended along the western gate of the Fatih Complex. On the southwestern side of this space where the Karaman Bazaar was situated, in front of the Börekçiler (Pastry Makers) Gate, there was the Esir (Captive) Bazaar from the Sultan Mehmed II period. This is not to be confused with the large Esir Han built at a later period close to the Tavukpazarı (Chicken Bazaar) and the Irgatpazarı (Laborers’ Bazaar) in Çemberlitaş. The people who settled around the Fatih Complex during the reign of Mehmed II had been encouraged to migrate en masse from the new state after the Karaman conquests. Stefanos Yerasimos explained that many people from Karaman were registered among the laborers who worked on the construction of the Süleymaniye Complex, and that the sons and grandsons of these people, who generally worked as stonemasons, could be working on the construction of the Fatih Complex.83 Thus, the original neighborhoods surrounding the complex were inhabited by people who worked there and would work on other construction projects in the capital in the future.

In addition to being a new center for religion, knowledge, and trade, the Fatih Mosque Complex was also a “monumental gate of the city.”84 Those entering the city center from Edirnekapı or leaving the city had to pass the complex. Those who traveled on the road leading to the large Karaman Bazaar entered the courtyard from one of the two western gates; they reached the small Karaman Bazaar after passing through the center of the courtyard and past one of the two routes on each side of the madrassas, then exiting through one of the gates on the opposite side of the courtyard. This extended toward the Old Palace in two routes to the north in parallel with the Bozdoğan Kemeri (Valens Aqueduct), passing through Saraçhane south of Atpazarı. Another route before entering the courtyard of the complex passes through the Semaniye and Tetimme (preparatory) madrasas on the Akdeniz side, arriving at the southern gate of Saraçhane; this directly leads to the Eski Odalar (Old Barracks). Maurice Cerasi analyzed the division of the Divanyolu, branching out into more than one route when required by density or functionality (ceremonial or commercial) and again becoming a single route; the Fatih Complex was the first place where this division was implemented in an integrated and planned form. The urban and architectural basis for the Divanyolu, the most important urban artery of Ottoman Istanbul, was formed during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II.85


The Byzantine Empire: The Center of Three Continents and Three Seas

After this repair and arrangement, because of the increasing government work, he ordered a new palace to be built in a place he would determine. He chose a holy place in the corner of Konstantiniyye Fortress opposite Galata that overlooks the Tomb of Abu Ayyub al-Ensari, port, armory, sandalwood bridge, harbors, tow lands, and two seas. He brought skillful architects and engineers from Arabic, Persian, and Greek cities. By means of their guidance, in this beautiful location, a noble palace, which is free of any kind of flaws but is adorned with all kinds of art, was constructed, thus his high intellect was seen explicitly. Inside this palace, every kiosk is extremely beautiful, every pavilion is a corner of paradise to make people envy; each yard has a gorgeous sky and is like a paradise, every fountain has Âb-ı Hızır (immortality water) that makes up the al-Kawthar River. Each roof is higher that the looks of scholars, each floor is more deserted than starred sphere; shining like the views of the wise people, comforting grief like friends; beautifying state ceremonies; honored with the saying “man dakhalahû kâna âminâ” (“whoever enters there will find peace”). ... He had a rampart constructed to this palace, which gives pleasure to the heart, and had beautiful spires built in various shapes, such as circular and triangular, in Frankish and Turkish styles, and had a fortress with big gates built. He designated the place in between the fortress rampart and palace wall as a vineyard, vegetable garden, garden, and rose garden. He also had some sites arranged for fountains, piscines, and conversation.

These were the words of Tursun Bey summarizing Sultan Mehmed II’s decision and justification for constructing the New Palace.86

Possibly after viewing the territory once again, Mehmed II, who chose the center of the walled city as his own residence immediately after the conquest, defined the edge of the peninsula, a place in the center of the city when observing Istanbul from the sea, as the grounds for the construction of a new palace just five years later. This was the place where the ancient city Byzantium was built. After Constantinople was developed into a capital, the early Byzantine acropolis on the first hill and the development on the foot of the slope were acknowledged over a period of time as having evolved into a partially wooded area accommodating monasteries. The highest point of this area was a religious and ceremonial center consisting of the Saint Irene and Hagia Sophia churches and the Ecumenical Patriarchate; the Imperial Gate was linked to the harbor by Eugenius. The Byzantine Empire’s Grand Palace south of the hippodrome was in the form of a partially closed ceremonial city until the eighth century, was gradually abandoned, and was in ruins before 1453. Mehmed II, who built his first palace on the forum of an ancient emperor, decided during this period to construct his own complex on the site of the Church of the Holy Apostles. He chose the site of the ancient Byzantine city instead of the Byzantine Grand Palace for his new palace—probably, as Tursun Bey wrote, so that the new capital, focused on the Golden Horn, would be centrally located between Galata, Eyüp, and Üsküdar. As for the legibility of the Byzantine reference to the location’s importance, this was also included in Kritovoulos’s narration: “In addition to these, in the acropolis of the ancient Byzantium, which looked over the sea, he commanded the building of a palace that was to be superior to previous palaces in every aspect, in grandeur, size, appearance, and gracefulness, a palace that would attract admiration.”87

45- Walls surrounding Topkapı palace and the city, Ayasofya, and Sultanahmet Square (details from Matrakçı)

The New Palace, named Topkapı after a gate constructed during the reign of Mehmed II, is one of the sites that reflected Sultan Mehmed II’s vision of Istanbul, as he was transforming architecturally it into an imperial capital, and where various architectural traditions and styles were integrated with particular Ottoman symbolic forms and expressed in the most distinct pattern. As clearly stated by Tursun Bey, the sultan’s wise guidance secured the contrast in methods and a bond between the architects and laborers from all regions.

Mehmed II’s New Palace was the administrative site of the sultanate and the residence of the sultan. Although the specified sections were out of bounds throughout the ages, this was a symbolic site built for state ceremonies; there is specific information regarding the condition of these symbolic sites during the construction period.88 A relatively long time, 1459–1463, was allocated to preparations following the decision to construct the New Palace; the existing buildings were demolished, and the necessary materials and workforce were acquired. The initial sections of the palace were completed within the following three years. It appears that this operation was later limited to the two courtyards and their surroundings, defined as the second and third courtyards; this was also the administrative center of the palace. In 1472, the palace was further expanded with pavilions built in its external gardens. The wall surrounding the palace, known as the Sur-ı Sultan (Sultan’s Wall), was completed in 1478. The general form of the palace bore a significant resemblance to the Edirne Palace, whose construction began during the reign of Murad II and was completed during the reign of Mehmed II. Unlike Edirne Palace, which covered a vast, level area; the New Palace was on a site with topographical verges on either side and was built in a schema of planar form in parallel with these restrictions.

46- Beyazıt Complex (details from Lorichs)

The Topkapı Palace Walls

The walls, which were the last section of the palace to be completed, consisted of a land wall extending from the Marmara Sea to the Golden Horn, merging with the Byzantium walls on the coast; additions and changes were made to the sea walls, particularly at the locations of the gates. The other towers and defensive walls which compete with Mehmed II’s modern examples of fortification structures in a contradictive manner, is traditional in terms of reproducing the architecture of the Byzantium-Constantinople walls. In addition, the high, square towers placed along the wall with half of their mass protruding inward and half outward makes the wall distinct from walls of previous periods. Polygonal, leaded, cone-shaped towers were constructed at different angle points on the fortress walls, which were generally straight. The tall tower close to Demirkapı functioned as a watchtower announcing the prayer times. The height of the 12-sided tower pavilion at the widest corner of the palace was reduced during the reign of Mahmud II; in Lorichs’s panorama, the tower appears in its original form, directly beneath the Ayasofya. The Kılıçarslan Pavilion in the Konya Seljuklu Palace and the tower pavilion situated in the Bursa Castle in the Bayezid I period are classified as a continuation of this tradition; Necipoğlu stated that the superiority of the New Palace’s tower pavilion in comparison with the Keykubad Pavilion was clearly defined in the tower inscription from the Sultan Mehmed II period.89 The Kal’atü’s-Sultaniye (Sultan’s Fortress) had three land gates: The Demirkapı (the Iron Gate) on the Haliç side, Ahır or Otluk Kapısı (the Stable Gate) on the coast of the Marmara Sea, and the Bâb-ı Hümayun (Imperial Gate), situated in the middle on the highest elevation in proportion to the site of the palace, at the end of a road parallel with the southern wall of the Hagia Sophia. When studying the illustrations of the Bâb-ı Hümayun in the Düsseldorf copy of Buondelmonti’s map, the Schedel engravings, and Matrakçı’s miniature, it may appear that the general structure of the gate was conserved also in the later periods. According to depictions produced in line with this consistency in the late period, the Bâb-ı Hümayun, which has a pavilion above, is a monumental gateway of white marble; on either side of the large, semipointed arched gate there are two smaller symmetrical pointed niches. The Arabic inscription above the main arch is the work of calligrapher Ali b. Yahya al-Sufi:

By the Grace of God, and by His approval, the foundations of this auspicious castle were laid, and its parts were solidly joined together to strengthen peace and tranquility. This blessed castle, with the aim of ensuring the safety of Allah’s support and the consent of the son of Sultan Mehmed, son of Sultan Murad, sultan of the land, and ruler of the seas, the shadow of Allah on the people and demons, God’s deputy in the east and west, the hero of water and soil, the conqueror of Constantinople and the father of its conquest, Sultan Mehmed Khan—May Allah make his empire eternal, and exalt his residence above the most lucid stars of the firmament.90

The pavilion has a façade integrated and symmetrical with the gate structure. This is in a residential architectural style, with arched casement windows below and skylight windows above. The façade of the pavilion overlooking the interior courtyard of the palace was porched, and there was a gilded, domed hall area in the center. Both the pavilion and the gate had many functions, such as observing the divanhane (audience salon), the defterdarlık (imperial ministry of finances), and ceremonies of the harem; the use of the pavilion as a treasury was identified with the Sultan Mehmed II period.

The First Courtyard

The hanging of weapons on the walls of the domed entrance area of the Bâb-ı Hümayun was a symbolic act emphasizing that guardsmen beyond this point were unarmed; a similar function was carried out in the courtyard beyond the gate. The weapons, flags, and Byzantine relics collected as booty from the conquest and other battles were stored in the old Saint Irene Church on the left when entering from the Bâb-ı Hümayun. The Saint Irene Church independently was an entrustment. The palace wall of the Sultan Mehmed II period crossed the Byzantine Episcopacy Palace, deliberately separating this church from Hagia Sophia. According to Mehmed II, who incorporated the Obelisk of Theodosius to the left of the entrance toward the main road into the Old Palace, Saint Irene on the left of the main gate of the New Palace must also have been a symbolic structure of equal significance. Angiolello wrote that the marbled covering and mosaic both inside and outside the church was unique and gave the impression that the original decoration of the structure was conserved during this period. In the nineteenth century, the Saint Irene Church became the first Ottoman Museum, the site where the Military Museum was formed; it later became an arsenal.

As in the original feature of the Old Palace before construction of the Beyazıt Complex, the First Courtyard of the New Palace may have been a palace square. This was a space where officials and visitors would leave their horses during major ceremonies, and probably where they would gather again for the cortege. In Matrakçı’s miniature, this characteristic was emphasized by a yellow background. The area on the left extending to the second land-wall line after Saint Irene and the Bâbüsselâm, which stood like its fortification towers on the horizon, was to accommodate the ambar-ı hassa (government storehouse) and the şehremaneti (city government), which was to gain major importance in the organization of Ottoman architects, and particularly in the development of Istanbul, over time. The second ceremonial gate of the New Palace, the Bâbüsselâm (Gate of Salutation), is a monument worthy of Tursun Bey’s description as being a Frengî (European) artifact. The architectural characteristics of the tall, octagonal towers, with the exception of the pointed cone roofs, bore the mark of modern European architecture (e.g., the Hungarian fortresses): the arch of the main gate, windows, defensive walkway, and consistent small arches supporting the protrusion on the top sections of the towers of the marble-covered structure were semicircular.

47- Beyazıt Complex (Beyazıt Madrasa down left) (Photo Orhan Durgut)

The Second and Third Courtyards

The second courtyard, entered directly from the first through the Bâbüsselâm Gate, is architecturally defined by porched walls. There was a wall separating the stables on the left of the courtyard, behind which the palace kitchens were located on the right. (The kitchens were restored during the reign of Süleyman I.) The Divan (Imperial Council), Hazine (Treasury) Chambers, and a relatively short tower were in the lefthand corner behind the porches. The Bâbüssaâde (Gate of Felicity) was located in the center on the opposite wall of the courtyard. The earliest representation of this façade appeared in Matrakçı’s miniature. The schema of the second courtyard, except for the stables, resembles the Alay Meydanı (Procession Square) in Edirne Palace; the kubbealtı (literally beneath the dome, where the viziers and statesmen gathered) in the left corner, the kitchens on the right, and the Bâbüssaâde were all communal components of the palace. The sultan’s Arz Odası (Audience Hall) was situated behind the Bâbüssaâde, a gate emphasized by its dome. In Matrakçı’s miniature, the Arz Odası, a kiosk surrounded by an elevated arched porch, is depicted in the form of a domed kiosk. Generally, it is assumed that there were no independent tall structures like the Edirne Cihannüma Kiosk in Mehmed II’s New Palace; however, the Adalet Kulesi (Tower of Justice), which was later raised in height, was situated behind the kubbealtı. The structures in the third courtyard differ somewhat architecturally, and the general context of the courtyard is quite different: The New Palace dominated a high position, providing a vast view on three sides, so towers were not necessary.

At the end of the third courtyard on both sides, there were areas set aside for the private use of the sultan. The sultan’s living quarters, consisting of four domes, were situated behind the porches on the left. In the eastern corner behind the porches were the interior treasury, a hamam, and a lodge overlooking the entrance to the Bosphorus. The harem dairesi (apartments) were located on the western side. In the north, there was a glass pavilion in a suspended garden screened by a wall. To preserve the borders of the two courtyards of the Sultan Mehmed II period, the palace structures were subjected to many changes. The sections bearing the most features of that period are the northwestern and northeastern sides of the third courtyard. These areas reflect two different concepts: the pointed, classic Ottoman column arches sitting on the marble columns of the western porch, and the alternating brickwork above the arches. The ceiling of the porches consists of domes resting on an octagonal drum. On the eastern side, a façade of white marble was built on marble columns with stylized ionic column crowns and full circular arches. The covering of the porch is a slanted, leaded roof with consistent vaulting beneath; the vaults begin over a muqarnas base, and there are reports that there was mosaic covering on the vaulting in its original state. The architecture of the courtyard porch is also prominent in the lodge structure in the northeastern corner. Here in the two corners there are two semiarched openings; the roof covering this area is domeless, lead-covered, and hipped. In addition to the components of the hamam-treasury-lodge façade associated with classic ancient architecture, it also reflects the classic style of Ottoman architecture with the pointed arch fronts and octagonal drummed domes of the hamam. Another outstanding feature of the frontal is its vast view. The interior decoration and structural features with muqarnas pendentives are classical Ottoman style. All of these structures rise upon open-fronted lodges overlooking the sea.

Hasbahçe (The Sultan’s Private Garden)

In the palace surroundings, a garden encircled each of the three courtyards mentioned above. There were several small churches in this garden. The Grand Turk ordered the restoration of the church decorated with mosaic. In this garden there were three pavilions a stone’s throw apart, each constructed in a different style. The first was Persian style, decorated in the style of the Karaman region and covered with cement; the second was constructed in the Turkish style; and the third pavilion, with a leaded roof, was in the Greek style.91

Following Sultan Mehmed II’s eastern expeditions and victories, in 1472 a square was constructed surrounding the three pavilions beneath the wall of the eastern wing of the New Palace. Gülru Necipoğlu has studied these structures, creating the square from original sources as a whole, and interpreted this as a space where the symbols of Sultan Mehmed II’s universal imperialism were installed architecturally. Angiolello stated that one of the pavilions was converted from an existing church, the second was decorated in the Persian/Karaman style, and the last was in the Turkish style. Tursun Bey’s narration is consistent with this claim. In his reference regarding the one converted from a church, this was the style of the Iranian shahs, while the other was tavr-ı Osmani or Ottoman style. The Ottoman-style pavilion was a masterpiece reflecting the geometric science of that period. In the vision of the Sultan Mehmed II period, the outer garden of the palace, which included Saint Irene, was designed as an architectural museum symbolizing his victories. It is believed that an Italian-style pavilion was also planned in parallel with the conquest of Otranto, but never materialized due to the sultan’s death. Only the Çinili Köşk (The Tiled Kiosk) from the pavilions of the Sultan Mehmed II period remains today. This building, also known as the Sırça Köşk, was in the Seljuk and Timurî Persian style. According to Babinger, the building was constructed by an architect named Kemaleddin in parallel with the Karaman migrations. There is documentation that ceramic craftsmen, originally from Khorasan but possibly brought to Istanbul from Karaman, worked on the construction of the building. The two-story plan of the Çinili Köşk resembled Uzun Hasan’s Hasht Behisht (Eight Paradises) palace in Tabriz. The centrally planned structure consists of a cross-shaped domed area surrounded by four domed chambers; a domed hall protrudes from the square building on the continuation of the entrance axis. The entrance door behind the terrace porch is vault shaped. An outward-facing vault was built on either side. As in the Persian custom, the ground floor was a serdab (cool room or hall), which provided relief from the summer heat. As Angiolello described it, the high central dome was initially constructed with cement and later covered in lead. The concept initiated by Sultan Mehmed II of pavilions that formed a miniature of the empire continued but in somewhat reduced form; the Mermer (Marble) Kiosk, which Yavuz Sultan Selim had constructed in Sarayburnu, and the Bağdat (Baghdad) and Revan Kiosks were structures of this kind. Topkapı (cannon gate), the double-towered gate after which Sultan Mehmed II named his New Palace, is situated on a corner of Sarayburnu. Cannons were placed in front of these gates similar to Bâbüsselâm, both to protect the palace and for ceremonial use; the Topkapı Sarayı was later named after these Frengi gates from the reign of Mehmed II. Unfortunately, this sea gate, depicted best in Lorichs’s panorama and Francesco Scarella’s drawings from the late seventeenh century, was at the end of the nineteenth century.

48- The inscription over the entrance of Beyazıt Mosque

49- Beyazıt Mosque

Administrative Headquarters of the City: The New Palace, Hagia Sophia, and Atmeydanı

Undoubtedly, the construction of Topkapı Palace contributed to significant changes in the urban structure of Istanbul. The destroyed Byzantine Hippodrome within the domain of the grand mosque Hagia Sophia and the palace began to serve as the Atmeydanı (literally, Horse Square); in the Hünername (Book of Talents), there is a miniature portraying Sultan Mehmed II shooting arrows at the Serpent Column. Unlike the Old Palace, the new administrative headquarters of the state was a significant distance from the bazaar, which began at Çemberlitaş. One of the major problems the palace walls created on the city coast was that until Bahçekapı there was no entrance to the city, and the area outside the palace walls between the palace and Bahçekapı were mainly allocated for palace supplies. This space ended at Gümrükönü (present-day Eminönü).

The Marmara shore was generally reserved as the service grounds of the palace; the stables in front of the Otluk Kapısı outside the palace walls were positioned as a structure and courtyard, and this area was linked to the Kadırga Port.

Topkapı Palace is a significant example of the architecture of the reign of Mehmed II, and the consistency in the selection of structural styles. When observing the view from Topkapı, the architecture from Mehmed II’s reign reflects a productive and somewhat deliberate synthesized form rather than a quest for random hybridization. When styles like those of the Çinili Köşk or Bâbüsselâm are used side by side with their strong features, as in the case of Topkapı, with other construction methods, rather than eclectic style, this forms a universalism reflecting an architectural representation of imperial power. In a sense, Topkapı is a miniature of Mehmed II’s Istanbul, and although it fails to depict Mehmed II’s 28 years in Istanbul entirely, it certainly presents an excellent vision of the integration of different urban and architectural perspectives in the scope of a new empire. This pluralism was partly generated by the lack of a central architectural organization and the fact that the constitution of architect and construction teams still depended on the different choices for the various projects. Another aspect that promoted pluralism was the policy of encouraging migration to the capital during the reign of Mehmed II following the conquest. As Gülru Necipoğlu summarized in her book The Age of Sinan, the architects who served Mehmed II were not members of a specific organization, but were classified as mütefferika (miscellaneous) “distinguished employees of the sultanate”; architects of the period shared this title with scientists, artists, engineers, and jewelers.92 The first documents regarding the Mimarân-ı Hassa or Hassa Mimarları (imperial architects) dated from the period of Bayezid II (1481–1512). Despite this, the general conception is that the foundation of this organization was structured with the building of the two palaces during the reign of Mehmed II. One of the two headquarters of the Hassa Mimarları Ocağı (Imperial Architects Organization) was the anbar-ı hassa (imperial storehouse) north of Saint Irene, and the other was the Mimarbaşı Konağı (Chief Architect’s Office), close to the Acemioğlanlar Barracks in Vefa.


The construction of a large complex on the southern end of the Old Palace consisting of a mosque, madrasa, soup kitchen, caravanserai, hamam, and shops was commissioned by Sultan Bayezid II. In a sense, the Bayezid Complex was completed by adding a Cuma Cami (Friday Mosque) to Mehmed II’s first project, the palace and bazaar site, in the context of the typology of an Islamic city. As the complex was situated in a developed area of the city, it did not possess a distinctive and uncompromising symmetrical plan on the scale of the Fatih Complex, conforming to the geometrical layout of the city. The urban location of the complex structures was defined by the direction of the qibla. The entrance to the mosque courtyard and the madrasa gate opened out into the space in front of the palace’s new southern gate. The soup kitchen and caravanserai were positioned on the same angle between the mosque and the bedesten; there was a separate gate leading to the space between the two. The soup kitchen was situated on the main road leading down from Çemberlitaş. Where the shops adjacent to the complex wall ended, the graveyard and tombs of the mosque were revealed behind a ported wall. In later periods, the shops extended along the road, and there were two gates leading into the mosque’s courtyard. The Bayezid Hamam was situated opposite the imperial mint on the corner leading onto the main road.

Yakubşah b. Sultanşah was eventually recognized as the architect of the Bayezid Mosque after documentation regarding the architecture of the Bayezid period was published by Rıfkı Melûl Meriç; Bayezid II is believed to have been acquainted with the Armenian Yakubşah, who was later called to the capital, from Amasya when he was still a prince. In a later period, Yakubşah’s son Hüdaverdi also worked in the Imperial Architects Organization. Two janissary-recruited architects, Ali b. Abdullah and Yusuf b. Papas, were Yakubşah’s assistants. Yusuf b. Papas became the architect of the Bayezid Madrassa after Yakubşah. Ali b. Abdullah later served as chief architect during the period of Sultan Selim I and at the beginning of the Sultan Süleyman I period under the name Acem Alisi.93 The Beyazıt Complex was built during the uninterrupted term of the Imperial Architect Organization spanning from the reign of Mehmed II to that of Süleyman I.

Bayezid’s Zaviye (Lodge) Mosque: Progressing Toward Classic Ottoman Architecture

Because the Fatih Mosque was restructured, the Beyazıt Mosque is the oldest mosque of the sultanate to survive in Istanbul until today. Both the courtyard and harem (covered area) of the mosque are square and equal in size. The covered area has 16 modular frames with four units on both sides. The central dome (18.5 m in diameter) covering the main area is supported by a semidome on both sides. This is similar to the Ayasofya’s support system; however, this was the first mosque to be constructed with two semidomes toward the mihrab of a more modest scale. The spaces on both sides of the central area are covered by four domes on each side. The central pillars on the sides of the main dome are two solid porphyry and marble columns; the crowns of these large marble muqarnas columns support the pointed arches. The mosque suffered major damage shortly after its construction in the 1509 earthquake, and the interior arches were reinforced in the period of Mimar (Architect) Sinan. The incompatibility between the semicircle and the pointed arch beneath before reaching the mihrab area may be due to some kind of framework intervention. The porches surrounding the mosque courtyard and the narthex area are of equal height. The porch arches were decorated using alternating red and white marble keystones. A continuous muqarnas border surrounds the belt above the porch; and while this border rises at the arch of the main entrance and the dome behind this, smooth stone decorations were added at the crossing points and ridge pediments. The şadırvan (ablution fountain) was built at a later period. In its original state, like in the Fatih Mosque, there were four cypress trees in the courtyard around the central şadırvan. The Bayezid Mosque, which with these features was a pioneer in classic Ottoman architecture and which developed further during the era of the architect Sinan, also represented a return to the period prior to Mehmed II with other characteristics. In view of the hostels added on both sides, the Beyazıt Mosque is classified as a zaviye (lodge) mosque. The façade of the hostels consisted of a domed area in the center and two domed chambers on each side, and the courtyard façade was classified as a continuation, and they both have separate entrances from the square. Evliya Çelebi indicated that these sites were added to the interior area in a later period. This design was implemented on the single-domed Edirne Beyazıt Mosque and later in the Sultan Selim Mosque in Istanbul. The minarets of the mosque were positioned on the outer corners of the zaviyes, separating these from the mosque structure in a symmetrical layout, developing the effects of the front façade and the courtyard. The minarets of the mosque underwent repairs; however, the white-on-red decoration on the section beneath the balcony of the western minaret is an original feature; in this way, this is a continuation of the implementations in Edirne. With the exception of the hostels and the decoration on the minarets, the Bayezid Mosque also bears another subtle reference to the early Ottoman mosques: the mihrab wall is separated by an elevation at the level where the semidome begins with a single step. (The same subtle detail can also be seen in the Atik Ali Paşa Mosque.) If a separation in the floor level was not carried out due to problems with the foundation at a later period, then this should be interpreted as a reference to past practices.

The Tomb, Square, Madrasa, and Hamam

Although Sultan Bayezıd II asked to be buried beside Ayyub Sultan’s tomb in his endowment deeds, this request was not fulfilled. During the reign of Selim I, he was placed in a classic Ottoman octagonal tomb similar to that of Ayyub Sultan. The dome of the tomb is mounted on an octagonal drum separated by a beam on the walls. The high rectangular wall façade is emphasized by a lined casement border of marble and raised stone becoming smaller toward the window levels. The Qur’an school was located within its own walls east of the graveyard. Unlike the plan of the Complex of Mehmed II, which was based around the mosque, the Bayezid Madrasa’s architecture resembled that of the early madrasas. In all likelihood, the structure had its own private garden with a separate wall in the early years of its construction. The straight arched gate, emphasized with a raised dome and red keystones, had a frontal border identical to the mosque border design. The layout consisted of a large independent classroom opposite the gate with 10 rooms on each side around the arched courtyard. The classroom façade was unobstructed; there was no protrusion apart from this mass of rooms, and the madrassa was separated by a stone wall with its alternating stone walling.

The Theodosius Column that Mehmed II incorporated into the grounds of the Old Palace was damaged during the 1509 earthquake and later demolished; some of the stones were used in the construction of the Bayezid Hamam in 1517 after the death of Bayezid II.94 The Bayezid çifte hamam (double bathhouse) is on a monumental scale; the women’s entrance is on the corner toward the Old Barracks. The soğukluk (cooling area), with the exception of the difference in the domes of the male and female sections, is symmetrical. The structure constitutes a vital turning point on the arterial road later to be known as Divanyolu.


The architectural emphasis of the main road from Edirnekapı, accommodating Mehmed II’s New Palace at one end and the New Mosque at the other, continued during the period of Sultan Bayezid II. In Pieter van Aelst’s 1533 sketch, the frontal view of the structure that appeared in the drawing of the Friday procession, which began in Atmeydanı and led toward the Fatih Mosque, is the Firuz Ağa Mosque. The mosque, built in 1490 and preserved in its original form until the present, is a relatively plain structure with a single dome and a three-arched narthex porch.

The two major architectural ventures during the period of Bayezid II were constructed by Atik Ali Pasha in the form of two complexes, one at the beginning and one at end of the Edirnekapı road. The main large complex was the project that transformed the Çemberlitaş district; this consists of a mosque, madrassa, han, and shops on either side of the main road. The geometric structure of the complex was not defined by the mosque but by the main road. The Atik Ali Pasha Mosque was north of the road, immediately west of Çemberlitaş, and on the upper elevation of the Mahmutpaşa Mosque. As it appears from restitutions, the plan of the mosque resembles the Fatih New Mosque: It consists of a high main dome, a semidomed mihrab, and side naves covered by two domes on each side. Although the plan is a reverse T-shape due to the protrusion of the semidomed area, it has no functional segregation like the Bursa mosques, but consists of a single area. As in the case of the Bayezid Mosque, the only separation of the main area is a single-step elevation from the beginning of the mihrab dome. The ported courtyard wall surrounding the front of the mosque appears in an angled form; behind this there is the pasha’s open-sided, hexagonal tomb. An entrance on the main road side of the mosque’s courtyard beside the fountain was added at a later date; there is another gate on the northwestern side that was later to become the Esir Han; the third gate opened out to the Tavukpazarı in the northeast.

As depicted in Lorichs’s panorama, the narthex area of the mosque situated on high ground was visible from the opposite side of the Golden Horn.

The madrassa consisted of chambers located around the courtyard defined by porched walls on the road side opposite the mosque. The Elçi Han (Envoy Inn) was situated to the east of the madrassa facing Çemberlitaş. The madrassa and Elçi Han may have been constructed by using the southern walls of the Forum of Constantine as a foundation. The road there was 7 m wide, rare for a main road in this period. The Elçi Han was demolished in the nineteenth century; however, there are many original drawings showing that this was the han where European envoys stayed in the sixteenth century.95 This building consisted of closed storerooms on the ground floor and an upper floor with rooms behind a porch; there were shops on the lower elevation on the side of the road. Melchior Lorichs, who produced unequaled drawings of Istanbul in the middle of the sixteenth century, also documented a major section of the city by sketching a significant housing pattern, a section of the madrassa, and views of the mosque at road level from the Elçi Han, where he stayed.

Atik Ali Pasha also built a mosque architecturally emphasizing a major junction in Karagümrük when entering from Edirnekapı. This mosque, which was more modest than the mosque in Çemberlitaş, was the first example of the multiple dome and pillar style in Istanbul. Although there were only six domes in the interior area of the mosque, because these were identical to the domes in the narthex area, this was classified as a mosque of nine equal domes. The alternating wall structure is mainly constructed of brick.


Construction inventories during Mehmed II’s reign and waqf cadastral record books, which cover a major part of the city (more than those of the sixteenth century), provide unprecedented information regarding how the neighborhood texture was transformed from the Byzantine to the Ottoman period. The reign of Mehmed II did not contribute to the definition of general neighborhoods formed in the reflection of later periods; undeveloped areas surrounding a religious structure could also be defined as a neighborhood, and neighborhoods could also house diverse religious communities. At the same time, many districts with different names were developed around the smaller-scale neighborhood masjids during the Sultan Mehmed II period. The waqf registers recorded a variety of structures: one or two stories; above a storeroom or shop; with an adjacent garden; a single, two-room or multiple-room home; on the shorefront or in the main bazaar area; constructed of stone or wood. While those who migrated to Istanbul from all corners of the empire began to settle in the capital as a result of Sultan Mehmed II’s development policy, presumably those who chose not to settle in existing buildings began to construct their own homes. In addition to the Byzantine city’s own style of residential quarters, in architectural terms it is possible to envision that those who came from such varied housing cultures constructed diverse neighborhoods. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to believe that the classic Istanbul wooden residential structures that may be identified with the 18th century appeared homogenously throughout the entire city. In Lorichs’s panorama of the residential area around the Atik Ali Pasha Mosque and some of Schweigger’s schematic sketches, wood-framed residential buildings or possibly even inns and caravanserais built of stone or mortar were depicted at least in areas close to the city center.

In addition to the huge Old Palace and Topkapı Palace; the Rumelihisarı and Yedikule; Okmeydanı, Imperial Shipyard, Imperial Stables, and Old Barracks (Eski Odalar) janissary quarters; the imperial mint (simkeşhane) and arsenal; the covered and open-air streets of the bazaar district around the bedesten, the Saraçlar Bazaar and Atpazarı, the Unkapanı, Yemiş Kapanı, and Yağ Kapanı (merchandise storage and weighing zones), together with their land and sea ports; the numerous large-scale hamams—in addition to the Ayasofya as an imperial mosque, the Fatih Mosque known as the New Mosque during that period with its eight madrasas, hostel, hospital, and caravanserai; the Eyüp Mosque and its imaret donated by the sultan; Mahmud Pasha’s imaret on the scale of an imperial complex; and imarets such as the Rum Paşa and Has Murad Paşa imarets, where new neighborhoods were established—there were also many Byzantine religious and civil buildings that were later transformed into functional Ottoman structures. An incomplete list of this kind can begin to portray the significance of the urban architecture and architectural history of the period of Sultan Mehmed II, initially in terms of Ottoman Istanbul, but also in terms of the history of Istanbul in general. Primarily, the Sultan Mehmed II era determined almost all of the main elements of the urban schema that was to continue in later periods. In the initial five years, this schema was constructed close to the geometric center of the city, around the present Beyazıt district in connection with the port, bearing the characteristics of Middle East Islamic and Anatolian Seljuk cities. In later years, with the addition of all the links between Topkapı Palace and the Fatih Complex in the proximity of Ayasofya, the vision of a major capital developed in the form of an uninterrupted main road system that was to extend in parallel with the port from the land walls to the tip of the peninsula. In addition to the three towns, Galata, Eyüp, and Üsküdar on the axis of the Golden Horn, the city perimeter was also characterized on the scale of neighboring villages and hunting grounds. This structural and functional schema is probably the most important inheritance in terms of the city architecture of the Sultan Mehmed II period. Unfortunately, a major part of the architecture of Sultan Mehmed II’s Istanbul has not survived in its original state. Many structures were restored during the Ottoman period, and others were either reconstructed after earthquakes or demolished during modern urban-renewal projects. As far as we can trace surviving buildings and those identified in documentary sources, in addition to the reinterpretation of previous Mediterranean and Middle Eastern architecture as a continuation of the early Ottoman architecture of the Sultan Mehmed II period structures (although this may be difficult to determine from sources), it is clear that contemporary architectural ideas were put into practice in many environments within the same geography. In other words, considering this from the present day, as a geographical center Mehmed II’s Istanbul was a new capital in which architectural practices of the past and the present were visible side by side. An architectural cosmopolitanism was also cultivated by the personal artistic customs of the people who either migrated on their own or were encouraged to come to Istanbul as a result of the establishment of the capital and expanding empire. With the construction of a range of major complexes, which have survived until the present, on the main axis of the city during the Bayezid period, significant works were produced in an attempt to complete the urban structure visualized during the process of establishing the Ottoman capital. In addition to the architecture of these structures being less pretentious in scale than those of Mehmed II’s period, this is significant in terms of these beginning to be portrayed from the complexes of collective architecture that may be classified as classic, to the form of single structures. The existence of the families of the Anatolian architects and construction craftsmen who settled in the capital, documented in records of the Bayezid period, may have contributed to this architectural collectivity. The architecture of Istanbul would attain a quite different dimension of integrality in the Sinan era. However, the Ottoman urban architecture prior to this era is represented in original sources more by Istanbul’s multilayered architecture.


1 Stephanos Yerasimos, “Osmanlı İstanbul’unun Kuruluşu”, Osmanlı Mimarlığının 7 Yüzyılı: Uluslarüstü Bir Miras, ed. Nur Akın, Afife Batur and Selçuk Batur Istanbul: Yapı-Endüstri Merkezi Yayınları, 1999, pp. 195-205.

2 Kritovulos Tarihi: 1451-1467, tr. Ari Çokona, Istanbul: Heyamola Yayınları, 2012, p. 417.

3 Plans of various periods and Albert Gabriel’s drawings Doğan Kuban, Ottoman Architecture, Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2010.

4 Târîh-i Ebü’l-Feth, prepared by A. Mertol Tulum, Istanbul: İstanbul Fetih Cemiyeti, 1977, pp. 44-45.

5 Târîh-i Ebü’l-Feth, p. 75.

6 “Disegno del Castello delle sette torre di Costantinopoli”, Museo Civico Correr, Venedik; “Sette Torri”, Avusturya Milli Kütüphanesi, Resim Arşivi, NB 23.858B.

7 The defensive star-shaped walls developed in parallel with gunpowder weapon technology, beginning in the fourteenth century with the towers of the medieval fortresses, and began to shape the entire city in the fifteenth century, for example in Renaissance Italy. Its implementation as a complete city system in the true sense occurred in the 16th century. For the historical development of the star-shaped defense structures and terms used in the various periods see George J. Ashworth, War and the City, London : Routledge, 1991.

8 Günümüz Türkçesiyle Evliyâ Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi: 1. Kitap, tr. Y. Dağlı and S. Kahraman, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2003, p. 396.

9 Some scholars support the view that the Vavassore map, believed to have been drawn in the 1480s, was prepared for Sultan Mehmed II by Venetian Gentile Bellini or George Amirutzes from Trabzon; Çiğdem Kafesçioğlu, Constantinople/ Istanbul: Cultural Encounters, Imperial Vision and the Construction of the Ottoman Capital, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009, pp. xxvi-xxvii, 154-164. Original work: Giovanni Andreas di Vavassore, Byzantiumsive Constantineopolis, Venice, undated (believed to be printed in the 1530s).

10 Kritovulos Tarihi, p. 417.

11 Târîh-i Ebü’l-Feth, p. 75.

12 Târîh-i Ebü’l-Feth, p. 75.

13 Gabor Agoston, Barut, Top ve Tüfek: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nun Askerî Gücü ve Silah Sanayisi, tr. Tanju Akad,Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2006; Ashworth, War and the City.

14 Halil İnalcık, “Fatih, Fetih ve İstanbul’un Yeniden İnşaası”, Dünya Kenti İstanbul, ed. Afife Batur, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1996, p. 33.

15 Kritovulos Tarihi, p. 413.

16 Eremya Çelebi Kömürcüyan, İstanbul Tarihi. XVII. Asırda İstanbul, tr. H. D. Andreasyan, Prepared by K. Pamukciyan, Istanbul: Eren Yayıncılık, 1988.

17 İdris Bostan, Kürekli ve Yelkenli Osmanlı Gemileri, Istanbul: Bilge Yayım Habercilik, 2005.

18 Matrakçı Nasûh (Nasûhü’s-Silahî), view of Istanbul around 1537, Beyân-ı Menâzil-i Sefer-i Irâkeyn, İÜ Library, no. T. 5964.


20 Târîh-i Ebü’l-Feth, pp. 69-70.

21 Kazım Çeçen, Mimar Sinan ve Kırkçeşme Tesisleri, Istanbul: İstanbul Su-Kanalizasyon İdaresi (İSKİ), 1988.

22 Stephanos Yerasimos, Kostantiniye ve Ayasofya Efsaneleri, tr. Şirin Tekeli, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1993.

23 Gülru Necipoğlu, “The Life of an Imperial Monument: Hagia Sophia after Byzantium”, Hagia Sophia from the Age of Justinian to the Present, ed. Robert Mark and Ahmet Çakmak, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 195-225.

24 Melchior Lorichs’ (or Lorck) panorama. The original drawing is found in Leiden University’s library. Facsimile: Melchior Lorichs’ Panorama of Istanbul, 1559, pub.. C. Mango, S. Yerasimos, prepared by. E. Kocabıyık, A. Ertuğ, Bern: Ertuğ & Kocabıyık, 1999.

25 Tülay Artan, “Eski Saray”, DBİst.A, III, 204-205.

26 The 1/25,000-scale Bayezid Waterway Map, dated 1812–1813 and drawn by engineer Seyyid Hasan, can be found in the Türk ve İslâm Eserleri Müzesi (Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum). Kazım Çeçen, II. Bayezid Suyolu Haritası, Istanbul: İSKİ, 1997.

27 C. A. J. Armstrong, Fatih Sultan Mehmed’in Ölümü ve Hadiseleri Üzerine Bir Vesika= Testament de Amyra Sultan Nichemedy, prepared by. A. Süheyl Ünver, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi, 1952. A gate of the Old Palace was symbolized In a drawing showing the funeral of Sultan Bayezid II in the Selimnâme found in the Topkapı Palace Museum.

28 Ayda Arel, “Cihannüma Kasrı ve Erken Osmanlı Saraylarında Kule Yapıları Hakkında”, Prof. Doğan Kuban’a Armağan, prepared by Zeynep Ahunbay, Deniz Mazlum and Kutgün Eyüpgiller, Istanbul: Eren Yayıncılık, 1996, pp. 99-116.

29 Gönül Cantay, “Simkeşhane”, DBİst.A, vol. 6, pp. 560-561.

30 Günümüz Türkçesiyle Evliyâ Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi: 1. Kitap, p. 543.

31 Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi, Fatih Devri Mimarisi, Istanbul: İstanbul Fethi Derneği, 1953.

32 Wolfgang Müller-Wiener, İstanbul’un Tarihsel Topografyası, tr. Ülker Sayın, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2007, pp. 258-265.

33 Hüseyin Ayvansarayi, Hadîkatü’l-cevâmi’: İstanbul Camileri ve Diğer Dinî-Sivil Mi’mârî Yapıları, prepared by. A. N. Gültekin, Istanbul: İşaret Yayınları, 2001, p. 180.

34 Uğur Tanyeli, “Klasik Dönem Osmanlı Metropolünde Konutun ‘Reel’ Tarihi: Bir Standart Saptama Denemesi”, Prof. Doğan Kuban’a Armağan, prepared by Zeynep Ahunbay, Deniz Mazlum, Kutgün Eyüpgiller, Istanbul: Eren Yayıncılık, 1996, pp. 57-71.

35 Gülru Necipoğlu, The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire, London: Reaktion Books, 2005, p. 154.

36 Önder Küçükerman and Kenan Mortan, Kapalıçarşı, Ankara: Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı Kütüphaneler ve Yayımlar Genel Müdürlüğü, 2007.

37 Kafesçioğlu, Constantinople/Istanbul, p. 37.

38 Osman Ergin, Fatih İmareti Vakfiyesi, Istanbul: İstanbul Belediyesi, 1945.

39 Ayverdi, Fatih Devri Mimarisi.

40 Kafesçioğlu, Constantinople/Istanbul, pp. 30-35.

41 Aygül Ağır, İstanbul’un Eski Venedik Yerleşimi ve Dönüşümü, Istanbul: İstanbul Araştırmaları Enstitüsü, 2009.

42 Halil İnalcık, The Survey of Istanbul 1455: The Text, English Translation, Analysis of the Text, Documents, Istanbul: Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları,2012.

43 Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi, Fatih Devri Sonlarında İstanbul Mahalleleri, Şehrin İskanı ve Nüfusu, Ankara: Vakıflar Umum Müdürlüğü, 1958, p. 227.

44 Ayvansarâyî, Hadîkatü’l-cevâmi’, p. 325.

45 Günümüz Türkçesiyle Evliyâ Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi: 1. Kitap, p. 552.

46 Ayverdi, Fatih Devri Sonlarında İstanbul Mahalleleri, p. 214.

47 İnalcık, The Survey of Istanbul 1455, p. 253.

48 Kafesçioğlu, Constantinople/Istanbul, p. 48.

49 Günümüz Türkçesiyle Evliyâ Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi: 1. Kitap, pp. 358-359.

50 Ayverdi, Osmanlı Mimarisinde Fatih Devri 855-886 (1451-1481), Istanbul: İstanbul Fetih Cemiyeti, 1989, picture 563.

51 Abdullah Kuran, “Eyüp Külliyesi”, Eyüp: Dün-Bugün: Sempozyum, 11-12 Aralık 1993, prepared by Tülay Artan, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1994.

52 Baha Tanman, “Eyüp Külliyesi”, DBİst.A, vol. 3, pp. 237-243.

53 Yerasimos, “Osmanlı İstanbul’unun Kuruluşu”, p. 200.

54 Kritovulos Tarihi, p. 415.

55 Theoharis Stravrides, The Sultan of Vezirs: The Life and Times of the Ottoman Grand Vezir Mahmud Pasha Angelovic (1453-1474), Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2001.

56 Kritovulos Tarihi, p. 419.

57 Doğan Kuban, “Mahmud Paşa Külliyesi”, DBİst.A, vol. 5, pp. 268-271.

58 Pierre Gilles, İstanbul’un Tarihi Eserleri, translated by Erendiz Özbayoğlu, Istanbul: Eren Yayıncılık, 1997.

59 Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi, 19. Yüzyılda İstanbul Haritası, Istanbul: İstanbul Enstitüsü Yayınları, 1958.

60 Nuran Kara Pehlivanoğlu, Nur Urfalıoğlu and Lütfü Yazıcıoğlu, Osmanlı Başkenti İstanbul’da Çeşmeler, Istanbul: Yapı-Endüstri Merkezi, 2000; Kafesçioğlu, Constantinople/ Istanbul, p. 155.

61 Cornelius Gurlitt, İstanbul’un Mimari Sanatı, translated by Rezan Kızıltan, Ankara: Enformasyon ve Dokümantasyon Hizmetleri Vakfı, 1999.

62 Ayverdi, Fatih Devri Mimarisi, p. 39.

63 Kafesçioğlu, Constantinople/Istanbul, pp. 122-125.

64 İnalcık, The Survey of Istanbul 1455, pp. 305-306.

65 Ken Dark and Ferudun Özgümüş, “New Evidence for the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles from Fatih Camii, Istanbul”, Oxford Journal of Archaeology, vol. 21 (2002), pp. 393-413; Öz Yılmaz, Murat Eser, “Ground-Penetrating Radar Surveys at the Fatih Mosque and the Church of St. Sophia, Istanbul”, 2005 SEG Annual Meeting, November 6 - 11, 2005, Houston, Texas, Texas: Society of Exploration Geophysicists, 2005.

66 Erdem Yücel, “İstanbul’da Bizans Sarnıçları II”, Arkitekt, 1967, pp. 62-64, 74 ; Albrecht Berger, “Streets and Public Spaces in Constantinople”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol. 54 (2000), pp. 161-172.

67 Kafesçioğlu, Constantinople/Istanbul, pp. 85-90, 240.

68 Gülru Necipoğlu, “From Byzantine Constantinople to Ottoman Kostantiniyye: Creation of a Cosmopolitan Capital and Visual Culture under Sultan Mehmed II”, From Byzantion to Istanbul: 8000 Years of a Capital, Istanbul: Sakıp Sabancı Museum, 2010, pp. 262-277; Kafesçioğlu, Constantinople/Istanbul, pp. 72-76.

69 Kritovulos Tarihi, pp. 416-417, p. 443.

70 Pieter Coecke van Aelst, “Friday Procession of Sultan through the Hippodrome”, The Turks in MDXXXIII, London: Privately Printed for W. S. M., 1873.

71 “Constantinopell”, A view from the 1590’s, anonym, Austria National Library, Illustration Archives, E 10.008 BIL.

72 Francesco Scarella, “Sul. Mehemed Secondo”, drawing 1686, Austrian Natioanl Library, illustration archives, codex 8627.

73 Köprülü Suyolu Haritası (Waterways Map), Süleymaniye Library.

74 Mehmed Ağaoğlu, “The Fatih Mosque at Constantinople”, Art Bulletin, vol. 12 (1930), pp. 179-195.

75 A. Süheyl Ünver, İlim ve Sanat Bakımından Fatih Devri Notları, Istanbul: İstanbul Belediyesi, 1947.

76 Târîh-i Ebü’l-Feth, p. 70.

77 Yerasimos, “Osmanlı İstanbul’unun Kuruluşu”, p. 203.

78 Târîh-i Ebü’l-Feth, p. 72.

79 Ayverdi, Osmanlı Mimarisinde Fatih Devri, pp. 394-400.

80 Semavi Eyice, “Demirciler ve Fatih Darüşşifası Mescidleri”, TD, vol. 1, 1950, pp. 357-378.

81 Charles Texier, Richard Popplewell Pullan, L’Architecture Byzantine, Londres: Day et fils, 1864. 1862.

82 Günümüz Türkçesiyle Evliyâ Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi: 1. Kitap, p. 601.

83 Yerasimos, “Osmanlı İstanbul’unun Kuruluşu”, p. 203.

84 Ahmet Gülgönen and Cana Bilsel, Le Complexe de Fatih, Son Rôle dans la Transformation Morphologique d’Istanbul, Paris: École d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville, 1991.

85 Maurice Cerasi, Divanyolu, tr. Ali Özdamar, Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2006.

86 Târîh-i Ebü’l-Feth, pp. 72-73.

87 Kritovulos Tarihi, p. 417.

88 Gülru Necipoğlu, 15. ve 16. Yüzyılda Topkapı Sarayı - Mimarî, Tören ve İktidar, tr. Ruşen Sezer, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık, 2007.

89 Necipoğlu, 15. ve 16. Yüzyılda Topkapı Sarayı, pp. 61-62.

90 Ayverdi, Fatih Devri Mimarisi, p. 310.

91 A citation by Giovanni Maria Angiolello who was at the palace during the final years of Sultan Mehmed II’s life, Necipoğlu, 15. ve 16. Yüzyılda Topkapı Sarayı, p. 267.

92 Necipoğlu, The Age of Sinan, pp. 153-157.

93 Rıfkı Melûl Meriç, “Beyazıd Camii Mimarı, II. Sultan Bayezid Devri Mimarları ile Bazı Binaları, Beyazıd Camii ile Alakalı Hususlar, San’atkarlar ve Eserleri”, Yıllık Araştırma Dergisi, vol. 2 (1958), pp. 1-76.

94 Müller-Wiener, İstanbul’un Tarihsel Topogragrafyası, pp. 264, 388.

95 An anonymous sixteenth century view of the Elçi Han, Austrian National Library, Picture Archives, NB 19.534AIB.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.