- What’s On
Conquered in 1326, Bursa, known to the Byzantines as Prousa, served as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. It retained its spiritual and commercial importance even after Edirne (Adrianople) in Thrace, and later Constantinople (Istanbul), functioned as Ottoman capitals. Yet, to date, no comprehensive study has been published on the city’s role as the inaugural centre of a great empire. In works by art and architectural historians, the city has often been portrayed as having a small or insignificant pre-Ottoman past, as if the Ottomans created the city from scratch. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In her book “The First Capital of the Ottoman Empire The Religious, Architectural, and Social History of Bursa”, Suna Çağaptay tells the story of the transition from a Byzantine Christian city to an Islamic Ottoman one, positing that Bursa was a multi-faith capital where we can see the religious plurality and modernity of the Ottoman world. The encounter between local and incoming forms created a synthesis filled with nuance, texture, and meaning. Indeed, when one looks more closely and recognizes that the contributions of the past do not threaten the authenticity of the present, a richer and more accurate narrative of the city and its Ottoman accommodation emerges.
Moderated by Oya Pancaroğlu, this online talk will be held in English.
Suna Çağaptay is an archaeologist and architectural historian working on Late Byzantine, Early Ottoman, Crusader, and principality-period architecture and urbanism in late medieval Anatolia, in particular, the appropriation of Byzantine and Latin architectural techniques and forms in Islamic contexts and the afterlives of ancient cities. Çağaptay holds a PhD in architectural history and theory from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (2007) and an MA (2001) and BA (1998) from Bilkent University, Ankara. She is an assistant professor of archaeology and architectural history in the Faculty of Architecture and Design at Bahçeşehir University (BAU), Istanbul.
Oya Pancaroğlu received her PhD in Islamic art and architecture from Harvard University in 2000 and is currently a Professor in the Department of History, Boğaziçi University. Her research interests include Islamic architecture in medieval Anatolia, ceramic production in the medieval Persianate world and figural representation in Islamic art.