Name of Monument:

Sultaniye Fortress

Also known as:

Çimenlik Fortress


Çanakkale, Turkey

Date of Monument:

Hegira 866 / AD 1463

Period / Dynasty:

Early Ottoman


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.

View Short Description

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.

How Monument was dated:

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.

Selected bibliography:

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.

Citation of this web page:

Şakir Çakmak "Sultaniye Fortress" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. 2021.;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 GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: TR 29


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)

The Ottomans | The Ottoman Capital: Istanbul


As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)