1350-1500| Humanist Italy – 1500-1600|The Ottoman Empire

Humanist Italy

Renaissance also knows as the movement to revive ancient Greco-Roman culture had some effects on Florence. The artists and architects in Florence had not only copied thee antiquity but also discovered some principles of design in order to surpass their models.

Painters led the way by perfecting perspective vision, a scientific mode of seeing that put all the parts in relation to the whole. Architects followed, discovering harmonious proportions linked to the classical orders.


Piero della Francesca – Ideal City (Perspective Vision in Renaissance)

Humanism affected the new palaces and churches and also Italian cities changed their character and they became more uniform scale and geometric basis.

The Dome of Florence and Its Architect, Filippo Brunelleschi

The wealthiest families from merchant dominated the artistic output of Florence during the fourteenth century.  Thanks to their collective resources they sponsored great civic projects, including the public palace -Palazza Vecchio- the new cathedral of Santa Maria del Flore, the public grain market of Or San Michele, the city walls and the bridges.

Most public works in Florence used rounded arches, symmetrically placed bays and harmonious proportions that were based on whole numbers such as 1:1, 1:2 and 2:3. Because of these ratios, they came up with a new way of seeing and treating for buildings as freestanding objects in proportional scale. Public space of city principals developed after the emergence of perspective vision. L-shaped Piazza della Signoria that surrounded Palazzo Vecchio is an example of this situation. During the 14th century, the urban magistrates made a final patch of houses to connect initial rectangular piazza on the north to a second piazza that served the new southwest entry. These two enlarged spaces came together on a grid of flagstones and brick pavers. The city’s public palace and a bell tower placed in relation to its surroundings.


Piazza della Signoria

The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore’s construction began in 1296.Arnolfo di Cambio was the designer of the cathedral who was the designers of that time civic projects. He proposed a simple Gothic style with quadripartite ribbed vaults spanning the nave and two side aisles. A few years later Francesco Talenti extended the length of the nave an extra bay and outlined the area for a huge octagonal dome. The diameter of the dome was as wide as Pantheon in Rome. Neri di Fioravanti came up with a scale that was showing the dome’s central octagon. Central octagon was stepped down to three partial octagons and each of them contained five radiating chapels.

The structural system of Fioravanti’s dome was based on the twelfth-century Baptistery of San Giovanni. After a competition in 1418, Filippo Brunelleschi took charge of the project. The architect -Brunelleschi- amazed the city by proposing to build new dome without falsework, he invented a structure that supported the dome during the process of construction. Brunelleschi’s dome had a double-shelled structure. Combination of clever masonry techniques and a ribbed skeleton girded by nine horizontal supports concealed between two layers was the main idea of Brunelleschi’s double-shelled dome. Brunelleschi used some Gothic programs elements such as pointed arches and ribs he also added some several all’antica motifs to exterior of the dome. Dome has a lantern that crowning it, completed after Brunelleschi’s death. It has some buttresses made with classical fluted pilasters and reserved-curve volutes.

Brunelleschi’s Dome

The same year with the beginning of the construction of the dome, Brunelleschi designed the Founding Hospital (Ospedale degli innocent) originally an orphanage. While designing the hospital, Brunelleschi took references from earlier hospitals in Florence, he used long halls and courtyards set behind a public loggia, the façade has a distinct classical appearance, with ancient-style Corinthian columns and pilasters. The hospital had a stage like relation with the piazza and this stage like relation added an even greater sense of drama.


Courtyard f Ospedale Degli Innocenti

The dome of the Old Sancristy of San Lorenzo was also designed by Brunelleschi and it financed by the Medici family. The system of San Lorenzo included the tomb for the patron and his wife under the table in the center of the room. The dome settles in the cubic volume on pendentives, resembling the shape of a hemispherical umbrella divided by twelve round-arch ribs. A smaller hemispherical dome covered the dome.

The church of San Lorenzo rebuilt by Brunelleschi in 1420s. Michelozzo, the Medici family architect completed this ongoing project during the following four decades.  The church reminded the early Christian basilicas of Rome, such as Santa Maria Maggiore. They placed a flat coffered ceiling over the nave, while setting the side aisles behind arcades raised on slender Corinthian columns. Brunelleschi and Michelozzo maintain a new sense of rational clarity and luminosity for a sacred space.

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire settled in western Anatolia during the fourteenth century and the aim was reviving the power of the ancient Roman Empire. Their engagement to urban culture was foundation of imarets that included a mosque, a tomb, a bath, a religious school and a soup kitchen The Ottomans put a shallow dome over every bay of their significant building and this situation led to create a strong sense of internal order. After conquering Constantinople in 1453, design of the mosques was influenced by the church of Hagia Sophia. Sinan who was the main architect in Ottoman Empire, he established an Ottoman style as assured and recognizable as that of the ancient Roman.

 The Prospect of a Muslim Roman Empire: Royal Mosques and Imarets

The Turks in Anatolia mostly called by the name of “Rum” and they looked forward to Roman precedents in their conquests. They continued a well-organized military to oversee the construction and maintenance of public works like the ancient Romans. The impressive projects of infrastructure built by the Ottoman army, like the new walls of Jerusalem, the Süleyman Bridge at Büyükçekmece, and the Mağlova aqueduct, rivaled those of the Romans.

The Ottomans encouraged a rich urban life like building markets, baths and great religious complexes. Ottoman urbanism displayed a preference for local symmetry, in which only the parts of a larger whole remained in equilibrium.

Ottoman architects were influenced by Anatolian region for their architectural models. They imitated the vaulted masonry of Armenian churches, the beehive domes of Seljuk tombs and Persian arcades.

 The Orhan Gazi Cami (mosque) built in Bursa in 1339 designed as the basic reverse T plan of early Ottoman royal mosques. The entry façade of mosque had a five-bay porch, made with pointed arches. Interior of the mosque, there are 2 central domes covered an axial prayer hall leading to mihrab, while the minor domes on the sides covered rooms.


Orhan Gazi Camii

The reverse T shape mosque type used in many other royal foundations in Bursa. Green Mosque -Yeşil Cami- is one of the example. Unlike the strange details on Orhan’s mosque, they brought together all elements proportionally and repeated them serially. Upper story windows glazed with green and blue panes brought light into the mosque and delicate muqarnas articulated niches.


Green Mosque

It belonged to a religious imaret and a charitable institution which was introduced by the Ottomans. Imarets usually included a mosque, a turbe (tomb of the donor) one or more madrasas (religious schools) a hammam (bath) and sometimes a hospital and a tekke for the monks.

The Ulu Cami is differed in type from the reverse T royal mosques. It has the hypostyle model that found throughout Southwest Asia. It has bays and each of its twenty bays carried a rounded dome. This square bay with a rounded dome became a unit in Ottoman architecture that they repeated in many buildings.

Constantinople Becomes Istanbul

Constantinople conquered in 1453 by Mehmed II known as Fatih, the Conqueror. They changed the name of the city Constantinople to Istanbul and after the change of the name, Mehmed II tried to rearrange the population by allowing Greek, Armenian, Jewish and Italian traders to settle. In order to encouraged he merchant activity, he built the markets of Kapali Çarşi which like the Koza Han in Bursa. It has square bays capped with rounded, lead-covered domes.

Kapalı Çarşı (Istanbul) Koza Han (Bursa)

The young sultan considered the majestic Hagia Sophia s his great prize and quickly coverted the venerable Palatine church into a royal mosque. They added a minaret and three others were added later he inserted into its eastern apse a mihrab. The Fatih Cami was also inspired by the great Byzantine church.

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