The world has seen many empires but none have quite rivalled the Ottoman Empire, which was the gate between the eastern and western worlds for six centuries. “Memalik Osmanya” (The Principality of Osman) was founded in 1305 by Osman the 1st, who later gave his name to the empire, Osman being read “Othman” in English thus becoming the Ottoman Empire.
The first capital of the empire was in Bursa, close to Constantinople (Istanbul). This small empire’s sole purpose was to conquer Constantinople with a small but tenacious army, which was said to be the greatest army of its time. From Basra to Algiers and Cairo to Chaldiran, they expanded over three continents and ruled over an estimated population of 40 million people with an iron fist.
The last regent to have ruled over the empire was Mehmed VI, who reigned for four years, from 1918 to 1922, during which time the Treaty of Sevres was signed ending the conflict between the Ottoman Empire and allies at the end of World War I.
After the death of Mehmed Retjad V during World War 1. Mehmed VI was brought to power and there after would be known as Mehmed Vahdeddin the Sixth, the last ruler of the Ottoman Empire.
Mehmed VI was born on February 2. 1861, in Istanbul to Sultan Abdulmecid and Giilistu Kadin Efendi. His parents died when he was still very young. Mehmed VI had a passion for literature and studied fiqh. His good manners and kindred spirit surprised most of the foreign dignitaries who would come to meet him over the years. Married five times, he was known to speak little but li.sten with eager attention.
The sultanate was abolished not long after Mehmed VI came to power, on November 1. 1922, The abolishment led the last sultan to flee to Malta on November 17 aboard a British warship named Malaya. He received many offers of asylum from various European countries but decided to live in San Remo, Italy. Spending the rest of his life in Italy. Mehmed VI died at the age of 65 in San Remo.
Knowing that he wouldn’t be allowed to be burried in Turkey, his last wish was to be laid to re,st in a Muslim country. Due to the debts that he had accumulated after fleeing Turkey, his coffin was seized and would only be relea.sed once all his debts were paid.
The Prime Minister of Syria purged Mehmed’s debts and brought his body to Syria. It was laid to rest in Damascus, at the Sultan Selim Mosque. The cemetery, located next to the mosque, was turned into a public park in 1965 and it is still unknown to this day exactly where the last sultan of the Ottoman dynasty rests.
On July 24, 1923, 16 months after , they were sultanate was brought down, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, which brought about the end of the Ottoman state and marked the beginning of the Turkish Republic.
Modern Istanbul proudly shows off the centuries of history that it witnessed. The old and historical part of the city, Eminonu and its surroundings, still holds an air of mystery, which can be retraced to the empire. The Egyptian Bazaar and Grand Bazaar (Kapali (Çarśi), both built during the Ottoman era, are splendid monuments which to this day are two of the most touristic attractions in Istanbul.
The sultans would spend most of their time within the different palaces that they had built around the city and close to the Bosphorus. Most of these palaces have been turned into museums and attract millions of visitors each year.
The Topkapi Palace used to be the seat of the Ottoman government. It then became home to many other sultans while the seat changed palaces.
Built between 1478 and 1856, it is now home to the dynasty jewels, especially the “Ka^ikci Elmas’i” which was known as one of the worlds largest diamonds.
On the Be^ikta^ shore you will find the Dolmabahce Palace which was briefly home to the seat of the Ottoman government, but was mainly used as an official imperial residence.
Dolmabahce was a prestigious addition to the urban silhouette of Istanbul, built on a prominent site at the entrance of the Bosphorus. It stood as a focal point in the fast growing 19th century city.
But palaces are not the only architectural wonders that add to the mysticism of today’s Istanbul. Along the shore of the Bosphorus you will find Yah’s waterside mansions that depict the love of luxury that the Ottomans had.
Plans to build sarays and mansions along the waterside started in 1700s and those mansions are inhabited to this day. An important after the part of the identity of the Bosphorus, they were built mainly out of timber and were residences to royals and men of high rank within the court.
In the neighbourhood of Besiktas, old Ottoman residences have been renovated into high-end shops and the highly successful W hotel. All around Istanbul you will still find traces of Ottoman architecture, be it a beautiful marble fountain or a police station located in an old Ottoman government building.
A constant endeavor of creating modernity while preserving history is what most modem architects aim for and is also why Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.