Istanbul is the largest and most important city in Turkey, although it was replaced by the proclamation of the Republic in 1923 by Ankara as the capital.
Nevertheless, Istanbul is the only city in the world that was both the capital of a powerful Christian empire and the Muslim Ottomans. Furthermore, Istanbul is the only city on two continents, Asia and Europe.
According to many historians, the death of Mehmed III ended the period of growth as the period of stagnation began with his son Sultan Ahmed I. Ahmed went back to building extravagant and elaborate buildings like the most famous mosque in Istanbul, the Sultanahmet Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque with its six minarets.
The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)
Towards the end of Ottoman rule, in 1922 the 36th and last Sultan Mehmed VI (Vahdettin) was exiled and died four years later in Italy. His grave is now in Damascus. Abdülmecid, the son of Sultan Abdülaziz, carried in 1922 briefly the title of Caliph, but not as Sultan. Not even two years later, he lost the title and was also sent into exile. He died in Paris in 1944 and about 10 years later he was again buried in Medina.
At its peak in the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent had reached the gates of Vienna and made Christian Europe shiver!
Balkan history is filled with Myths about ‘the terrible and blood-thirsty Turk’ who forcefully 'Islamised' and 'Turkified' the conquered people. The truth is that Islamisation in each Balkan country took place in the course of many centuries, and its nature and phase were determined not by the Ottoman government but by the specific conditions of each locality. Ottoman conquests were initially military and economic enterprises, and religious conversions were not their primary objective. The actual Ottoman focus was on taxation and making the realms productive, and a religious campaign would have disrupted that economic objective.
Istanbul is really special, the Byzantine-Christian and the Ottoman-Muslim heritage can be found everywhere, while modernity has reached every part of life and competes with tradition and Islam!
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