Cultural Encounter, Imperial Vision, and the Construction of the Ottoman Capital

By (author) Çidem Kafesciolu

Hardback - £86.95

Publication date:

19 January 2010

Length of book:

346 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271027760

A symbolic locus embodying myriad meanings, the political center of the eastern Mediterranean, and one of the old world’s largest urban centers, Constantinople was the site of large-scale urban and architectural interventions. Changing visions—the changing political, cultural, and religious orientations of those who lived there and those who ruled from there—inscribed themselves in its spaces, transforming it and lending it new meanings. Constantinopolis/Istanbul is about such a period of change and remaking: following its capture in 1453, the city was host to a grandly conceived urban project meant to rebuild and transform the capital of Eastern Rome as the capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Çiğdem Kafescioğlu traces the construction and representation of Ottoman Istanbul, threading histories of politics, culture, and architecture into the fabric of the urban landscape. Attentive to the preservation and destruction of artifacts from the past, Constantinopolis/Istanbul shapes an understanding of emerging modes of spatiality and visuality in Ottoman Istanbul as central components of a complex and fascinating urban process, that of the creation of a capital city through the interpretation and appropriation of another.

“Çiğdem Kafescioğlu’s elegant study examines the creation of the Ottoman capital of Istanbul through the reformulation of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. The book provides clarity, nuance, and new perspectives on a formative period in the city’s history. It is well written, engaging, packed with valuable observations, and based on important new archival documents. This is a significant contribution to urban history in general and to the history and architecture of Byzantine Constantinople and Ottoman Istanbul in particular.”

—Robert Ousterhout, University of Pennsylvania