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The Three Ottoman Capitals

Updated: May 29, 2023

The Ottomans before opening and naming the magnificent city of Istanbul (Constantinople) as the capital of the Empire. They had appointed the honour of Capital to two wonderful history rich cities, Bursa and Edirne.

All three Ottoman capitals were built by the Byzantines and carried Greek names (Prousa, Adrianoupolis, Konstantinoupolis).

Bursa (Greek: Προύσα) capitulated in the year 1326 before Osman's son Orhan, who became the first sultan of the Ottoman Empire. After the Ottomans settled in 'Yeşil Bursa' (Green Bursa), they stopped being a nomadic people. Green Bursa got its name because of its parks and gardens.

Orhan began to organise a new state, gave the city its present name and began to coin. The second golden age of the city began with the improvement of silk production with the help of the Ottomans.

Bursa grew out of the citadel and some of the best Ottoman monuments can be found here. The roots of great Ottoman art and culture lie in this city. The mausoleums of the early Ottoman rulers and sultans are located in Bursa, and the city's main landmarks include a number of Ottoman mansions built throughout the Ottoman period. Bursa also has thermal baths, palaces, and several museums that can be visited nowadays.

Orhan’s son Murad I became the next Sultan of the Ottomans and was given the title 'Sultan of Rûm'.

He spent his youth in Bursa with the artists and teachers of the Islamic School of Theology. He spent almost all his life on the field of war and in constant movement with the army. He kept finding time between war periods to build great buildings and complete some artworks. In Bursa, he built mosques, schools and an Imaret (complex with soup kitchens, mosques, hospices, schools etc.)!

Bursa is located in north-western Turkey and is the fourth-most populous city in Turkey with nearly 2 million inhabitants. Bursa is one of the industrial centres of the country.

Image of Bursa in 1895

Sultan Murad I spread his empire further towards Europe, opened Macedonia and made Adrianople (Greek: Ἁδριανούπολις) his residence. Adrianople was renamed Edirne and became the new capital of the empire (1369).

Edirne is a city in the north-western Turkish province of Edirne in the region of East Thrace, 7 km (4.3 mi) from the Greek and 20 km (12 mi) from the Bulgarian borders. The city's estimated population in 2014 was 165,979. Edirne is famous for its many mosques, especially the Ottoman master architect Mimar Sinan’s Selimiye Mosque, built in 1575. It has the highest minarets in Turkey, at 70.90 m (232.6 ft) and a cupola 3 or 4 ft (0.91 or 1.22 m) higher than that of the Hagia Sophia Mosque.

Edirne has three historic covered bazaars: the Arasta Bazaar, next to the Selimiye Mosque, the Bedesten next to Eski Cami and Ali Paşa Çarşısı (Ali Pasha Bazaar).

Furthermore, there are more attractions the city has to offer, such as the Edirne Palace, built during the reign of Murad II (r. 1421–1444), the Complex of Sultan Bayezid II, the Balkan Wars Memorial Cemetery, the historic Grand Synagogue of Edirne, restored and re-opened in March 2015, a Roman Catholic and two Bulgarian Orthodox churches. Edirne also possesses several historic arch bridges and some caravansaries, designed to host travellers, in the 16th century.

Image of Edirne

The biggest military achievement was without a doubt, the opening of Constantinople in 1453 by Sultan Mohammed II (known as "Fatih"). As a symbol of the victory of Islam, the great Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, became a mosque.

Sultan Mohammed Fatih began rebuilding the ruined city and turned it into a centre of Islamic tolerance of other religions: Greek Orthodox Christians and Armenians were encouraged to settle in Istanbul, while Sultan Bayezid II allowed in the year 1492 the Jewish refugees from Spain to settle here.

Image of Istanbul

The official name of the city changed in the 20th century although Constantinople was the whole time through known by its Greek-speaking population as “I Polis” (The City). So, when one wanted to say “I am going to the City!” they would say “Pao istinpoli!”. Thus “istinpoli” became “Istanbul”. We Speak more about this wonderful city in another blog post, Link Here:

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Our aim for this blog list is to try and get this beneficial knowledge out to people and spark discussion in the comments and forum. So, come and comment below what you find the most interesting part of Ottoman Islamic History. And what would you like to see more of?

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