SAH Blog

  • Spanish Itineraries Part 2: Madrid, Toledo, Zaragoza

    Patricia Blessing, 2014 H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow
    Apr 21, 2016
    With this month’s blog post, I am back in Spain, this time in Madrid and the surrounding areas. While in Toledo and Zaragoza, Islamic monuments are part of the discussion, I will generally also focus on the museums that I visited in all three cities although of course, given especially the large number of such institutions in Madrid, this will not be a complete account. 

    In Madrid, the central railway station at Puerta de Atocha quickly became a focal point, as high-speed trains are an easy way to travel around the country. The old station building with its courtyard full of plants (Figures 1 and 2) is particularly attractive, even though the platforms are actually in a new annex building. The way from Madrid to Zaragoza leads eastwards, through landscapes dominated by agriculture and small towns. 


    Figures 1 and 2: Puerta de Atocha railway station, Madrid (P. Blessing) 

    Once arrived in Zaragoza, nothing around the modern train station betrays the view to come: only minutes away, surrounded by apartment buildings likely built in the 1960s and 1970s, is the Aljafería (Figure 3). The palace was built during the Taifa period (after the downfall of the Umayyad caliphate in Spain) by the local Islamic ruler, Ahmad I ibn Sulayman Sayf al-Dawla Imad al-Dawla al-Muqtadir (r. 1049–82). The building now serves as the regional parliament of Aragon. The exterior, with its fortified aspect, does not point to the interior with its garden courtyard, arches, and stucco decoration (Figures 4 and 5). 

    Figure 3: Aljafería, Zaragoza, view (P. Blessing) 

    Figure 4: Aljafería, Zaragoza, courtyard (P. Blessing) 

    Figure 5: Aljafería, Zaragoza, view through arcades at south side of the courtyard (P. Blessing) 

    In the interior, the structure strongly evokes the architecture of Umayyad Cordoba, and especially of the palace city of Madinat al-Zahra: gardens, intersecting arches, stucco with vegetal and geometric motives abound (Figures 6 and 7). The mosque of the Aljafería, a small room to the side of a large hall used for receptions and gatherings, contains references to the Great Mosque of Cordoba in details of the decoration, and in the deep niche of the miḥrāb that forms a small room on its own (Figures 8 and 9). Theses references, at the core of a fortified complex reflect the context of a period in which aspirations to the Umayyad caliphate ran high, and conflicts between local rulers forced the construction of strong walls. 


    Figures 6 and 7: Details of stucco decoration, Aljafería, Zaragoza (P. Blessing) 


    Figures 8 and 9: Mosque and miḥrāb, Aljafería, Zaragoza (P. Blessing) 

    In Toledo, reference to Cordoba are present in an earlier monument, the Bab Mardum Mosque, built in 999, and rededicated as the church of El Cristo de la Luz after the Reconquista of the city in 1085 (Figures 10 and 11). The entrance section of the building consists of the original mosque, a small building with each bays, each covered with a different cross-ribbed vault (Figure 12). An extension was added to the eastern end of the mosque to create the church; wall paintings adorn the apse (Figure 13 and 14), and were added the late twelfth thirteenth century, notably showing inscriptions expression blessings in Arabic. 


    Figures 10 and 11: Exterior views, Bab Mardum Mosque/ El Cristo de la Luz, Toledo (P. Blessing) 

    Figure 12: Vaults of mosque section, Bab Mardum Mosque/ El Cristo de la Luz, Toledo (P. Blessing) 


    Figures 13 and 14: details of wall paintings apse, Bab Mardum Mosque/ El Cristo de la Luz, Toledo, during restoration in March 2014 (P. Blessing) 

    In style, the paintings are similar to those in the church of San Román in Toledo, built in the early thirteenth century (Figures 15 and 16). The church contains a large collection of Visigothic art, comparable to that in the National Museum of Archaeology in Madrid (on which more later). The church and museum reopened in 2015, and the objects on view present a detailed overview of the early medieval archaeological heritage of the region (Figure 17). 


    Figures 15 and 16: Interior views, San Román, Toledo (P. Blessing)

    Figure 17: Detail of display, San Román, Toledo (P. Blessing)

    Moving further through the historical center of Toledo, the cathedral (Figure 18) dominates a large section. Built in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, with some later additions, it is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Spain, next to the one in Seville. The cathedral is the church of the archbishop of Toledo, the primate of Spain. Burials of the archbishops, some dating to the nineteenth century are located in the cathedral and several of the later ones are marked by cardinals’ hats suspended above them (Figure 19). This is a striking detail that I have not encountered elsewhere, and I have not found background about it so far. Also striking are the foliate arches in the triphorium of the apse (Figure 20), a clear connection to locally engrained forms seen in the Bab Mardum Mosque and Toledo’s Romanesque churches. 

    Figure 18: Cathedral, Toledo, view (P. Blessing)

    Figure 19: Cardinal’s hat suspended above burial of Cardinal Juan de la Cruz Ignacio Moreno y Maisanove (d. 1884), archbishop of Toledo (1875–1884) in Toledo cathedral (P. Blessing)

    Figure 20: Detail of triphorium in apse, cathedral, Toledo (P. Blessing) 

    Not far from the cathedral are two buildings that originally served as synagogues, later as churches, and are now accessible as museums testifying to the Sephardic Jewish heritage of Spain. Santa Maria la Blanca (Figures 21 and 22) was built in the late twelfth century and reconstructed after a fire in 1250; the building became a church in the late fourteenth century. 


    Figures 21 and 22: Interior views, Santa Maria la Blanca, Toledo (P. Blessing)

    The synagogue of Samuel Ha-Levi, a councilor and treasurer at the court of Pedro I (the Cruel) of Aragon, was completed in 1357 and connected to the patron’s palace (no longer extant). The synagogue was turned into the church after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492; first known as San Benito, the church’s dedication was to El Transito by the seventeenth century. The decoration of the monument (Figures 23 and 24) evokes that of the Alhambra, and is part of the Mudéjar style that was used in large parts of Spain in the fourteenth and fifteenth century, including the Alcazar of Seville and chapels added to the Great Mosque of Cordoba after its conversion to a church. 


    Figures 23 and 24: Details of interior stucco decoration, Synagogue of Samuel Ha-Levi, Toledo (P. Blessing) 

    Leaving Toledo, the train station itself is a striking sight (Figures 25 and 26). Built in 1917–1920, it is an example of Islamic revival architecture. (Readers may remember the city hall of Sarajevo from my August 2015 blog). Architect Narciso Clavería y Palacios was joined in the interior design and details of decoration by local master craftsmen Angel Pedraza, responsible for the tiles, and Julio Pascual Martínez who created metal work (Figures 27 and 28). 


    Figures 25 and 26: Views of main train station, Toledo (P. Blessing)


    Figures 27 and 28: Interior, main train station, Toledo (P. Blessing)

    The high-speed train takes travellers to Madrid in just 30 minutes, back to Puerta de Atocha station. This would be a place to close, yet I promised a glimpse at Madrid and so here it is with an account of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional (MAN, National Archaeological Museum), reopened in spring 2014 after a major overhaul of its exhibition spaces. Extending over three floors in two connected section, the exhibition begins with pre-historic artifacts and ends with eighteenth-century objects. Even though the focus is largely on Spain, the museum also as a sequence of rooms dedicated to Pharaonic Egypt and the ancient Near East. In the parts dedicated to the history and archaeology, the Roman period and the Middle Ages are particularly strong. A carefully choreographed transition leads from Roman to late antique, Visigothic, and Umayyad all on one floor. Highlights of this section are mosaics (Figure 29), the Visigothic votive crowns found in Guarrazar near Toledo (Figure 30), and a model of the Great Mosque of Cordoba, suspended above the section presenting Umayyad architectural sculpture (Figure 31 and 32).

    Figure 29: View of room with fourth- to fifth-century mosaics, MAN Madrid (P. Blessing).

    Figure 30: Detail of votive crown of king Recceswinth I (r. 649–672) from the treasure of Guarrazar, MAN Madrid; part of the treasure is in Madrid (MAN and Royal Palace), and other pieces are in the Musée national du Moyen Age, Termes de Cluny in Paris. (P. Blessing) 


    Figures 31 and 32: Model of the Great Mosque of Cordoba, MAN Madrid (P.Blessing)

    Even though the cut off after the Umayyad period to move on to Romanesque and Gothic Iberia on the floor above—and thus squarely into the realm of the Reconquista—gives room to pause, the presentation works remarkably well. It emphasizes the transitions from Roman to late antique Iberia, a world to which the Visigoths and, to some extent, the Umayyads belonged. The question remains whether Umayyad Spain was indeed a part of this late antique Mediterranean world throughout or whether, at least by the tenth century, it had rather absorbed to a large extent the cultural sphere of the Abbasid empire. 

    Recommended books:

    Anderson, Glaire D. The Islamic Villa in Early Medieval Iberia: Architecture and Court Culture in Umayyad Córdoba (Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013).

    Nickson, Tom. Toledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval Castile (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015).

    Robinson, Cynthia. In Praise of Song: the Making of Courtly Culture in al-Andalus and Provence, 1065-1135 A.D. (Leiden: Brill, 2002).
    Go comment!
  • Byzantium in Istanbul, or: Istanbul is Constantinople (among other things)

    Patricia Blessing, 2014 H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow
    Mar 28, 2016
    Just hours before I sat down to write this text on March 19, 2016, another suicide bomb claimed victims in Turkey, this time on İstiklal Caddesi, a lively shopping street at the center of Istanbul’s European side. Last week, an attack in one of Ankara’s main public transportation hubs pointed to further troubles, and it is now clearer how soon they are to some. So far, I have only very occasionally touched upon the political reality of the Middle East, and increasingly Europe. Yet now, as I continued research in Turkey and observe how the situation develops locally, I am both at a loss for words. I feel that it is callous to write about architectural history without the larger context of a country that increasingly slides into violence and uncertainty. I ambitiously wanted to write about Bursa, the first Ottoman capital, as well, but given recent events do not have the stomach to venture into a description of monuments that are, on the one hand, ethereally beautiful and, on the other hand, include mausolea and graveyards. I may return to this later, with distance if possible, but for now the first paragraph of my original text below stands without actual continuation. 

    Last month, I wrote about the transformation of Constantinople to Istanbul (although the shifts in naming were not as simple as this sentence suggests). I did not, however, say much about Byzantine architecture in Istanbul, nor did I venture into other cities. This post will do just that: first, it will present Byzantine monuments extant in Istanbul and second, it will show how in Bursa, the first Ottoman capital from 1326 to c. 1368, Byzantine architecture became part and parcel of the new dynasty’s patronage. 

    Figure 1: View of restored section of city walls near the Topkapı (not to be confused with the palace) tramway station, extra muros (P. Blessing)

    Figure 2: City walls and highway at Ayvansarayı (P. Blessing) 

    In Istanbul, a main feature of the Byzantine city that is still preserved are parts of the walls, although heavily restored in some (Figure 1) and badly preserved in other sections (Figure 2). Restoration and urban renewal projects close to the walls have caused controversy in recent years: the entire neighborhood of Sulukule, heavily populated by Roma communities, was demolished and inhabitants relocated. In recent months, the vegetable gardens (bostanlar) that existed along the walls for centuries, providing subsistence to local families and produce to some of Istanbul’s markets, were bulldozed. Often, historical photographs of the walls are now the only reliable sources to study certain sections; the photographs taken by Nicholas V. Artamonoff in the 1930s and 1940s are examples (Figure 3). 

    Figure 3: General view of the Wall of Manuel Komnenos looking from the city. Market garden, orchards, and shed in foreground, Photographer: Nicholas V. Artamonoff, Date: January 1938, Negative Number: RA415, Reaccession Number: 
    ICFA.NA.0240, Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

    Similarly, former Byzantine churches have often undergone a series of restorations and transformations, from church to mosque, from mosque to museum, and sometimes back to mosque. Many of these monuments are located in an area between the land walls and the Süleymaniye Mosque. They date from the tenth to the fourteenth centuries, although the ruins of the sixth-century Hagious Polyeuktos (Figure 4) can bee seen close to the sixteenth-century Şehzade Mosque and the aqueduct of Valens (Figure 5). The site was excavated in the 1930s, and sculpture is on view at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, while spolia have been part of the Church of St. Marc in Venice since the thirteenth century (Figure 6). This is one of the instances where several stations of my travels this year form a whole, displaying connections that are not easily understood without first-hand experience. 

    Figure 4: remains of large-scale sculpture from Hagios Polyeuktos, photograph taken in August 2008 (P. Blessing)

    Figure 5: aqueduct of Valens, Şehzade Mosque, near photograph taken in August 2008 (P. Blessing)

    Figure 6: spolia from Hagios Polyeuktos, now on St. Mark’s Cathedral, Venice (P. Blessing)

    Moving away from Hagios Polyeuktos towards the city wall, the next site of interest is the church of the Pantokrator Monastery, known as Zeyrek Mosque since the late fifteenth century (Figure 7). Close by is the Fatih Mosque, one of the monuments that I wrote about in February

    Figure 7: Pantokrator Church/ Zeyrek Mosque (front) and Fatih Mosque (P. Blessing)

    The Pantokrator Church, or rather churches since it was planned as an assembly of structures from the start, was built under the patronage of John II and Eirene Komnenos 1118–36. A main function was that of imperial mausolea, as more of a dozen imperial burials were located there. The structure was restored in a long-term project under the director of Prof. Zeynep Ahunbay, Prof. Metin Ahunbay, and Prof. Robert Ousterhout, beginning in 1997–98, and continued in several seasons until 2005–06. At that point, the Directorate of Pious Foundations (Vakıflar Genel Müdürlüğü) took over the project, which has been continuing in stages (Figures 8, 9, and 10), and it is currently not accessible. 

    Figure 8: Pantokrator Church/ Zeyrek Mosque in 2008 (P. Blessing)

    Figure 9: Pantokrator Church/ Zeyrek Mosque in 2014 (P. Blessing)

    Figure 10: Pantokrator Church/ Zeyrek Mosque in 2016 (P. Blessing)

    Close to the walls, the Chora Church/Kariye Camii (Figure 11) built in the eleventh century and enlarged in 1316–21, has been a museum since the early 1930s. The mosaic decoration of the narthex and naos, and the frescoes in the fourteenth-century funerary chapel are the main attractions of the site. The patron of the fourteenth-century restoration of the church, Theodore Metochites, is shown at the feet of Christ (Figure 12), presenting the restored church—notably with the addition of the mosaics. The extensive program of the narthex, depicting scenes from the life of Christ and the life of the Virgin Mary, culminate in the figure of Christ Pantokrator in the southern dome (Figure 13) and of the Virgin and Child in the northern dome (Figure 14). In the funerary chapel, frescoes dating to c. 1320 show an elaborate program moving towards the Anastasis, and a terrifyingly creative rendering of the 

    Figure 11: Chora Church, exterior in 2008 (P. Blessing) 

    Figure 12: Chora Church, mosaic showing Theodore Metochites as donor (P. Blessing)

    Figure 13: Chora Church, southern dome of narthex with Christ Pantokrator (P. Blessing)

    Figure 14: Chora Church, southern dome of narthex with Christ Pantokrator (P. Blessing)

    [This is where I meant to move on to Bursa, but I will leave this for now. My April blog, planned as a text about Madrid and northern Spain, may return to Bursa instead]. 

    Let me close with a paragraph on some issues indirectly connected to the Byzantine past of Istanbul. The first is the site of Eyüp up the Golden Horn outside the old walls, a landscape of Ottoman mosques, mausolea, and graveyards that are still in use today (Figure 15). At the center of this holy site is the tomb of a figure known as Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Eyüp Sultan on Turkish); the narrative surrounding the tomb is closely connected to the time of Mehmed the Conqueror. According to legend, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was companion of the Prophet Muhammad who died during the first Arab siege of Constantinople—and thus served as a (less successful) precedent of Mehmed the Conqueror’s conquest, now conveniently connected to early Islamic times. While the city was under siege just before the Ottoman conquest, Akşemsettin, a Sufi shaykh close to the sultan, found the Abu Ayyub al-Ansari’s previously unknown tomb. A mausoleum and mosque were established and the site firmly became part of Ottoman foundational lore.1 The current mosque is that built after a devastating earthquake in the eighteenth century (Figures 16 and 17), although much of the time decoration on the mausoleum consists of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century pieces (Figures 18 and 19). 

    Figure 15: View over Golden Horn and Eyüp from Pierre Loti Cafe (P. Blessing)

    Figure 16: View of Eyüp Sultan Mosque, with graveyard in the foreground (P. Blessing)

    Figure 17: Courtyard, Eyüp Sultan Mosque (P. Blessing)


    Figures 18 and 19: tiles on façade of mausoleum, Eyüp Sultan Mosque (P. Blessing)

    Turning away from Eyüp and the Golden Horn, moving along the shore towards Eminönü, the neighborhoods of Fener and Balat are the most recent sites of the gentrification that has already taken over areas such as Beyoğlu and Cihangir in the last twenty years. Yet here, towering above neighborhoods full of historical buildings—some restored, others in ruins—is the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, a poignant reminder of the city’s history but also its present that is not just Turkish and Islamic (Figure 20). 

    Figure 20: Balat, view up the hill with Patriarchate at the top (P. Blessing) 

    1. For the details of various sources on these accounts and the early architectural history of the site, see: Kafescioglu, Constantinopolis/ Istanbul, pp. 45-52.
    Go comment!
  • Creating an Ottoman Capital: Istanbul in the Late Fifteenth Century

    Patricia Blessing, 2014 H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow
    Feb 26, 2016
    This blog post will continue last month’s account of Istanbul as a city between past and present, between historical monuments and skyscrapers. The focus this time will be on the second half of the fifteenth century, and on the shaping of the new Ottoman capital following the conquest of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. The conquest was not sudden, and Ottoman sultan Mehmed II, known as the Conqueror, had long prepared it. Fortresses on both sides of the Bosphorus—Rumeli Hisar on the European and Anadolu Hisar on the Asian shore —were built in as part of the Ottoman approach on the Byzantine capital. Nowadays surrounded by restaurants and cut off from the shore by roads, the fortresses are no longer quite as forbidding, yet they still impress when seen from a distance (Figures 1 and 2). 

    Figures 1 and 2: Rumeli Hisar, Istanbul, view and close up (P. Blessing) 

    The Ottomans did not immediately set about fully transforming the city—some steps were taken as soon as the city was in hand, such as the conversion of its cathedral, Hagia Sophia, into a mosque (Figures 3 and 4). The overall changes to the urban fabric, however, including the construction of mosques and a new palace, took place over several decades to come. 

    Figures 3 and 4: Hagia Sophia, interior, photographs taken in January 2011 when all scaffoldings were down (P. Blessing)

    Only ten years after the conquest, in 1463, was a new mosque built under the sultan’s name: the Fatih Mosque, or Mosque of the Conqueror, named after the victorious ruler. Largely destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1766, the current building is mostly the result of reconstruction at that time, although the courtyard is still largely original (Figures 5 and 6). The site was well chosen: the Church of the Holy Apostles—the burial place of Byzantine emperors—was torn down and the patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church relocated. Seen from the Golden Horn, moreover, the mosque dominates the church of the Pantokrator Monastery, and imperial foundation soon converted into a mosque and still used as such today. Both the mosque and the cistern below (Figure 7) have been the subject of several restoration projects over the years, including most recently in 2014. 

    Figure 5: Fatih Mosque, view, with Pantokrator Church/ Zeyrek Mosque in front (P. Blessing)

    Figure 6: Fatih Mosque, courtyard (P. Blessing)

    Figure 7: Zeyrek Cistern, during restoration in August 2008 (P. Blessing)

    The sultan himself became part of the myth of the conquest: Italian painter Gentile Bellini’s portrait of Mehmed II can be found on advertisements (Figure 8) and the legend of an Ottoman rider leaping over the city walls during the conquest has found its way onto a municipal emblem (Figure 9).

    Figure 8: Advertisement on the façade of an appliance store, using Gentile Bellini’s portrait of Mehmed the Conqueror, photograph taken in the Fatih neighborhood in June 2014 (P. Blessing)

    Figure 9: Emblem of the Faith municipality, opposite the Mahmud Pasha Mosque near the Grand Bazaar (P. Blessing)

    Mehmed II was not the only patron of architecture: in a targeted, long-term project that Çiğdem Kafescioğlu has studied in detail, notables and particularly the sultan’s grand-viziers were responsible for the construction of mosque complexes. In several examples, only the mosques are well preserved and the subsidiary buildings have disappeared or are at various stages of decay, as Kafescioğlu outlines. The new mosque complexes were located in various places throughout the city, on both the European and Asian sides. Located near the Grand Bazaar, the Mosque of Mahmud Pasha was built in 1462–63. The building evokes the small early Ottoman mosques in its plan and exterior aspect (Figures 10 to 12). The patron’s mausoleum, however, located directly behind the mosque, has an exterior decoration of turquoise tile inlaid into a marble covering, forming geometric patterns (Figures 13 to 15). In her study of late fifteenth-century Istanbul, Kafescioğlu designated this decoration as Timurid without further elaborating, yet other references come to mind, including the stone-carved geometric patterns on the portals of thirteenth-century Seljuk monuments in central Anatolia. The building has been undergoing restoration for several years, covered in scaffolding and its surroundings becoming a maze of steel barriers (Figures 16 to 18), and I have not yet been able to visit the interior. 

    Figures 10 to 12: Mahmud Pasha Mosque, Istanbul, views (P. Blessing) 

    Figures 13 to 15: Mahmud Pasha Mausoleum, Istanbul, view and details (P. Blessing)

    Figures 16 to 18: Mahmud Pasha Mosque, Istanbul, porch and surroundings (P. Blessing) 

    Located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, in Üsküdar, the Rum Mehmed Pasha Mosque, built in 1471, takes on the silhouette of a Byzantine church (Figure 19). It towers on a hillside, visible from afar in the winter but hidden behind the leaves of nearby trees in the summer. Yet the exterior is deceptive, and only superficially points to the aesthetic of churches in converted into mosques. In the interior of the mosque, the dome is painted in scrolls and leaves that point east, and the dome rests on muqarnas pendentives (Figure 20). 

    Figure 19: View of shore at Üsküdar, Istanbul with Rum Mehmed Pasha Mosque, at center and Şemsî Ahmed Pasha Mosque at front left (P. Blessing)

    Figure 20: Rum Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Istanbul, interior (P. Blessing)

    Back on the European shore, near Topkapı Palace, only the mosque and hamam remain from the complex of İshak Pasha, founded in 1483 (Figures 21 and 22). While the mosque is still in use, the hamam is an empty shell; the terrace of a nearby hotel affords a rare glimpse of the interior (Figure 23). This state of preservation is typical in that often mosques continue to be used while other buildings fall into disrepair, are abandoned or used for purposes detrimental to the historical fabric. 

    Figure 21: İshak Pasha Mosque, view (P. Blessing)

    Figure 22: İshak Pasha Hamam, view (P. Blessing) 

    Figure 23: İshak Pasha Hamam, interior (P. Blessing) 

    In addition to these problems in viewing fifteenth-century mosque complexes in their entirety, a further complication is the fact that roads often cut viewpoints, and make access difficult. An example of this is the Has Murad Pasha Mosque (1465–71) in the Aksaray neighborhood, enclosed by highways and tramway lines (Figure 24), so that even taking a good view of the monument becomes a challenge. 

    Figure 24: Has Murad Pasha Mosque, view (P. Blessing)

    While these mosque complexes were important parts of the construction of Constantinople-Istanbul as the Ottoman capital, this overview would not be complete without a glimpse at Topkapı Palace, founded by Mehmed II and inhabited until the late nineteenth century (Figure 25). The building complex and its transformation over the centuries have been studied by Gülru Necipoğlu. Here, I would like to present the so-called Çinili Köşk (Tiled Pavilion), built in 1472 (Figure 26). Nowadays separated from the premises of the palace by the Archaeological Museum (Figure 27), it is an example of the fifteenth-century negotiation between varied influences in Ottoman architecture. The tile-work (Figures 28 and 29), made by tile-makers from Khurasan, points to Timurid architecture, yet in the overall effect is quite different from that of the supposed models in Central Asia, in part also because of the use of cut marble combined with the tiles. I will further explore this question in March, when discussing early Ottoman architecture elsewhere in Turkey. 

    Figure 25: Topkapı Palace, view from the Bosphorus (P. Blessing)

    Figure 26: Çinili Köşk (Tiled Pavilion), view, June 2014 (P. Blessing)

    Figure 27: Istanbul Archaeological Museum, view, June 2014 (P. Blessing) 

    Figures 28 and 29: Çinili Köşk (Tiled Pavilion), detail of exterior tile and marble decoration (P. Blessing)


     Çiğdem Kafescioğlu, Constantinopolis/ Istanbul: Cultural encounter, imperial vision, and the construction of the Ottoman capital, University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009.

    Gülru Necipoğlu, Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power – The Topkapi Palace in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991.

    Gülru Necipoğlu, “From International Timurid to Ottoman: A Change of Taste in Sixteenth-Century Ceramic Tiles,” Muqarnas 7 (1990): 136-170.

    Gülru Necipoğlu, “ ‘Virtual Archaeology’ in Light of a New Document on the Topkapı Palace’s Waterworks and Earliest Buildings, ca. 1509,” Muqarnas 30 (2013): 315-350.
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