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Conquest of Istanbul

Conquest of Istanbul, on 29 May 1453,

II. Mehmed (Fatih Sultan Mehmed)

It took place when the Ottoman Empire under his command captured Constantinople (today's Istanbul), the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The realization of the conquest symbolized the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the New Age and is also considered the de facto end of the Roman Empire. At that time, the city was seen as a castle with the protection provided by its natural defenses and walls, and it served as the largest metropolis in Europe for a long time.

Strategic Importance of Conquest: 

Constantinople's strategic location, due to its proximity to both Europe and Asia, made the city a crossroads for trade routes. In addition, the city constituted a significant obstacle to the Ottomans' aim of expanding into Europe. The Ottoman Empire needed to have Constantinople to keep the Balkans and the Aegean under control.

Beginning of the Siege and Technical Innovations:

Fatih Sultan Mehmed made extensive preparations for the siege. These preparations included building giant portable cannons; Thanks to the large cannons, the Ottoman army was able to overcome the strong walls protecting the city within a few weeks, which was a revolutionary innovation for those times. In addition, the Ottoman navy made another innovation by rolling ships from land to enter the Golden Horn.

Course and Result of the Siege:

The siege lasted approximately 53 days. The Ottoman army surrounded the city from sea and land, preventing the Byzantine army from receiving help. The fall of the city caused a great historical shock for Europe at the time and caused many scholars and artists to migrate west, a migration movement that is considered one of the triggers of the Renaissance.


Mehmed the Conqueror's conquest of Constantinople is considered a diplomatic and military advantage that the Ottomans gained over the West. The city became the new capital of the Ottomans, and a multi-ethnic and multi-religious structure was preserved, with an edict allowing the Ecumenical Patriarchate to continue to exist. Istanbul became a center where both Eastern and Western cultures met, becoming a strategic base for new conquests and a center of intercultural trade. 

The conquest of Istanbul is also considered the beginning of the golden age of the Ottoman Empire. Great advances were made in art, architecture and science during this period. Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror is known as a personally educated ruler and initiated many projects to develop the capital. These projects included building new palaces, mosques and public buildings.

The conquest of Istanbul was a decisive event in terms of the interaction and transfer of culture, science and art between different civilizations throughout history. After the conquest, a period of peace and stability that lasted for centuries emerged, and Istanbul consolidated its place on the world stage as a cultural mosaic.


Effects in Education and Science:

As the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul attracted scientists and artists. Scholars from all over the world met in Istanbul and exchanged information. This situation contributed to the beginning of a new era in the fields of science, art and philosophy. The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque led to the migration of many Byzantine scholars to the West, which was effective in accelerating the Renaissance movement in Europe.

Effects on Religion and Society:

After the Conquest of Istanbul, Mehmed the Conqueror invited people from various ethnic and religious groups to the city to repopulate and economically revitalize the city. Urban multiculturalism was promoted as an element of Ottoman policy. The edicts issued by Mehmed the Conqueror allowing minorities to freely practice their religion represent the tolerant nature of the Ottoman Empire, and this approach continued throughout the following centuries.

Reflections in Architecture:

The reflections of the conquest on architecture are especially evident with the construction of structures such as mosques, madrasahs, baths and bridges that change the silhouette of the city. Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and subsequent Ottoman sultans aimed to make Istanbul a world city by equipping the capital with Ottoman architecture. Famous architects of the period, such as Mimar Sinan, created works that would leave their mark on world history during this transformation.

The Conquest of Istanbul is considered a significant turning point in world history, bringing with it many political, social, cultural and economic changes. The conquest of the city paved the way for the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of a new era. This historical event had a profound impact not only on the people of that time, but also on the course of world history in the following centuries.

Author: Hüseyin Emre Eken

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