Hegira 866 / AD 1463
Sultan Mehmed II (his second reign r. AH 855–86 / AD 1451–81).
Some time after the conquest of Istanbul, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, intending to take control of the Dardanelles, built two fortresses at the narrowest point of the Straits, one on the Anatolian side and one on the European side. The one on the Anatolian side is this, the Sultaniye or çimenlik Fortress, in the centre of the city of çanakkale (to which it gives its name). Grelot, a Frenchman who saw the fortress in the AH 11th / AD 17th century, said that the fortress had 28 large cannons, some of which could fire a shell all the way to the far shore; he also said that çanakkale was a village of 3000 people located next to the fortress.
The Sultaniye Fortress is a rectangular building of approximately 110 m x 160 m. It consists of an outer fortress, an inner fortress, two mosques, and an arsenal. The walls of the outer fortress are equipped with many bastions and towers. The thickness of the walls ranges from 4.50 m to 7.00 m. The fortress is entered through a low, arched gate in the north side. An inscription above the opening records that it was repaired in AH 978 / AD 1571.
The inner fortress is a three-storey building, 30 m x 42 m and 20 m high; it has 7-m thick walls. On the landing in front of the low, arched gate in the north wall is a broken marble seat, which, according to tradition, was occupied by Sultan Mehmed II.
The first of the mosques adjoins the middle of the north wall of the outer fortress. The mosque, which is thought to have been built in the period of Sultan Mehmed II, has a short minaret broken off above the balcony. The other mosque is to the southwest corner of the inner fortress. It was built in the period of Sultan Abdülaziz ['Abd al-'Aziz] (AH 1277–93 / AD 1861–76), at the same time as the earthen ramparts were built in the western part of the outer fortress. The arsenal located in the eastern part of the courtyard is a round building, 5 m in diameter, with walls 2.30 m thick.
The walls of the outer fortress, the inner fortress, the arsenal and the walls of the two mosques are made of rough-cut stone and rubble. Cut stone was used for the entrance arches of the outer and inner fortresses and the mosque that dates to the time of Sultan Mehmed II.
The Sultaniye Fortress was built during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II in around the AH 9th / AD 15th century, with the aim of protecting the Dardanelles. According to the inscription above the entrance in the north wall, it was repaired in AH 978 / AD 1571, during the reign of Sultan Selim II; and earthen ramparts were added to the west as well as a second mosque in the southwest during the Sultan Abdülaziz's reign. Today the fortress is used as a military museum.
Built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (the Conqueror) for the purpose of controlling the Çanakkale Strait (ancient Dardanelles) the fortress today serves as a military museum. The city of Çanakkale is named after this fortress, which comprises an outer fortress, an inner keep, two masjids and an arsenal. This is one of the most beautiful examples of Ottoman military architecture.
The fortress has no foundation inscription. The 17th-century Turkish traveller Evliya çelebi, says it was built in AH 856 / AD 1452, before the conquest of Istanbul. Based on various documents the historians Danişmend and Ayverdi have, however, have suggested that it was built in AH 866 / AD 1463 under the supervision of Yakup Pasha.
Ayverdi, E. H., Osmanlı Mimarisinde Fatih Devri (1451–81) [The Period of the Conqueror in Ottoman Architecture (1451-–81)], Vol. III, Istanbul, 1973, pp.171–86.
çakmak, Ş., Erken Osmanlı Sanatı, Beyliklerin Mirası [Early Ottoman Art: The Legacy of the Emirates], Madrid, 1999, pp.164–5.
Danişmend, İ. H., Osmanlı Tarihi Kronolojisi [The Chronology of Ottoman History], Vol. I, Istanbul, 1947, p.299.
Şakir Çakmak "Sultaniye Fortress" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;19;en
Prepared by: Şakir ÇakmakŞakir Çakmak
Dr Şakir Çakmak is an assistant professor in the Department of Archaeology and Art History of the Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. Born in Sarayköy, Turkey, in 1964, he graduated from that department in 1986. He started working as a research assistant in the same department in 1988. He completed his MA in 1991 with a thesis entitled “Turkish Monuments in Denizli Province (Mosques)” and his Ph.D. with the thesis “Portals in the Early Ottoman Period (1300–1500)” in 1999.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 29
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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