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The Aksaray Valide mosque was completed in 1871 to the design of Pietro Montani, responsible mostly for the decorative program, and Sarkis Balyan, court architect of sultan Abdulaziz (r. 1861-1876). It represents well, along with Çıragan Palace and few other monuments of the period, the efforts to revive Ottoman and Islamic forms, typical of the reign of Abdulaziz. The sparse Gothicizing elements of the design are instead connected to the widespread belief in the common origin of Gothic and Islamic architecture.
After a long period of westernizing trends in the architectural culture of the empire, culminating with Dolmabahçe palace, the Ottoman court and many intellectuals were interested in new ways to represent Ottoman identity through art and architecture. Pietro Montani was in fact one of the authors of a major study of Ottoman architecture, presented at the Universal Exhibition of Vienna in 1873.
The official patron of the mosque was Pertevniyal Sultan, mother (Valide) of Abdulaziz, who also funded a mosque complex in Damascus. This Syrian connection is interesting, given that today the surroundings of this mosque are enlivened by the vibrant community of Syrian refuges. Prof.Paolo Girardelli Professor of Art and Architectural History Department of History Boğaziçi University
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