From empires past to nation state: Figurative public statues in Istanbul

Faik Gür, Melis Taner, Deniz Türker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Statues, landmarks, and monumental architecture visibly mark and inscribe meaning into urban space. This is true everywhere, but it is particularly striking in Istanbul. When the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in the fifteenth century, they encountered a city with a rich and layered history stretching back over 2,000 years, where statues had always been important in propagating and legitimizing imperial power. Nineteenth-century governors and, subsequently, khedives of Egypt more readily accepted figural sculpture, especially to assert their political legitimacy in the public arena. The Hamidian regime also encouraged the erection of monuments in the capital and elsewhere to affirm diplomatic alliances that sealed economic partnerships and postwar treaties. Taksim Square came to represent the new and the national in Istanbul as opposed to Sultanahmet and Beyazit, the squares of the imperial past, as the new regime evolved into a coherent political body implementing top down modernization for the sake of building a modern secular nation-state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPublic Statues Across Time and Cultures
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9781000368246
ISBN (Print)9780367416386
StatePublished - Apr 8 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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