Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was the longest lasting and most powerful of any dynasty in the world; the empire ruled for almost 700 years; prior to that, the Sultans had ruled in the Islamic regions for more than four centuries. From the foundation of the Ottoman Empire, which took place in 1299 until the dissolution in 1922, 623 years had gone by.

History & Timeline

History & Timeline
History & Timeline

The Ottoman state emerged in Asia Minor, along with many diminutive Turkish states, throughout the decline of the Seljuk Turk Empire. The many smaller states were absorbed by the Ottoman Turks during Muhammad II’s reign (1451-1481) and ended all dynasties of the local Turks. Kosovo Field in 1389 and Nikopol in 1396 were the greatest Ottoman victories. Massive sections of the Balkan Peninsula were under their rule, awakening the rest of Europe to impending danger.

During the Ottoman’s Period of Great Expansion, many countries fell under their rule. In only one century, the Ottomans transformed from a nomadic group to inheritors of the oldest surviving European empire due to their military prowess and disunity and weakness of their rivals.

In the early 16th century Syria, Cairo, Algiers, and also many Greek possessions fell to the Ottoman Empire. In 1526 the Ottomans defeated a majority of Hungary and subsequently Transylvania, Moldavia, and Walachia. The French/Turkish relationship blossomed under the reign of Sulayman I in 1535 after which Turkish architecture, literature, and art flourished.

Economic independence of the Ottoman Empire was lost via 16th and 18th century treaties. The Bosnia/Herzegovina rebellion of 1875 advanced the Russo/Turkish War of 1877 through 1878 in which Turkey was defeated. Independence was declared by Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, and Bulgaria along with Bosnia/Herzegovina under Austria rule. The 19th century Armenian massacres officially saw the world oppose the Turks. Turkey lost almost all its land after two consecutive Balkan wars in 1912 and 1913. In 1918, following the outbreak of WWI, Turkish opposition collapsed in Europe and Asia. The 1918 Treaty of Sèvres finalized in October ended the Ottoman Empire.



Turkish architecture from the Ottoman Empire emerged in Edirne and Bursa in northwest Turkey in the 14th and 15th centuries seen mainly in Anatolia. Added to the usual mausoleums, mosques, and madrasahs were tekkes, which housed holy men communally and were often joined to the mausoleum or mosque. Both structures together were called külliye. Major influences came from the Byzantine traditions and appeared in brick and stone features created simultaneously. Close contacts with Italy transferred influentially into Ottoman architecture as well with roofs, exterior facades, gates, and windows featuring Italian stylistic features. Thus Ottoman architecture presented a style influenced both by European and Muslim art. The skyline in Istanbul showcases the pinnacle of Ottoman Empire architecture via several mosques constructed between 1453 and 1550. Logic and clarity is evident in design each part created in relation to the entire building with each unnecessary element eradicated completing a true simplistic whole.

Sphere of Influence

Sphere of Influence
Sphere of Influence

Since its official founding in 1299, the Ottoman Empire was under rule by those belonging to the same family for more than seven centuries and at its height it was the most powerful of all ruling empires in the world. At the pinnacle of the empire’s rule, it’s sphere of influence reached over a large part of southern Europe which included present-day Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary, Romania, the Ukraine, and Greece. Sections of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, along with the entire countries of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Israel were also controlled by the empire until its complete decline.

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