Turk­ish De­lights

Of­ten de­scribed as the cul­tural, spir­i­tual and phys­i­cal ‘bridge’ be­tween Europe and Asia, Tur­key is sur­rounded by four seas: the Black Sea, the Mediter­ranean, the Aegean and the Sea of Mar­mara. Un­sur­pris­ingly, the coun­try boasts a fas­ci­nat­ing mar­itime leg

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY BRUNO CIANCI

Ex­plor­ing Tur­key’s mar­itime legacy in its mu­se­ums.

Trade was the ob­vi­ous cat­a­lyst for the de­vel­op­ment of Tur­key’s sea­far­ing tra­di­tion but, per­haps in­evitably, the clash be­tween Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam added fur­ther im­pe­tus. Af­ter their con­quest of Con­stantino­ple (pre­vi­ously Byzan­tium, now Is­tan­bul) in 1453, the Ot­toman Turks were in the fir­ing line from the Holy Ro­man Em­pire.

Dur­ing the 15th cen­tury – dur­ing the reign of the Sul­tan Suleiman the Mag­nif­i­cent – every cor­ner of the Mediter­ranean wit­nessed sea bat­tles be­tween the Ot­tomans and the Holy League’s fleet. These in­cluded ships sent from Venice, Genoa, Tus­cany, Malta, from the Pope him­self – and the Hab­s­burgs.

WW1 ush­ered in the sun­set over the Ot­toman Em­pire, but in the mu­se­ums in and around Is­tan­bul there are plenty of ex­am­ples of the re­gion’s mar­itime tra­di­tion – all well worth a visit.


En­tirely re­fur­bished in 2013, this mu­seum cap­tures the Ot­toman Navy’s splen­dour – and has a par­tic­u­larly good col­lec­tion of the im­pe­rial caiques that be­longed to var­i­ous Ot­toman Sul­tans. The most im­por­tant of them is the 40m Kadirga, a cer­e­mo­nial gal­ley used for pa­rades.

She was pow­ered by 24 row­ers, re­s­plen­dent in colour­ful uni­forms. At the stern is the canopy for the sov­er­eign, in­laid with mother-of-pearl. The exact age of the Kadirga is un­cer­tain, but ra­dio­car­bon tests place her old­est parts from the 17th cen­tury.

The re­main­ing caiques date to the 19th cen­tury, of­ten de­scribed as the most romantic and melan­cholic pe­riod in Ot­toman his­tory. This large fleet of cer­e­mo­nial caiques is also in­ter­preted as an at­tempt to dis­guise the de­cline of the House of Os­man and the grow­ing de­pen­dence of the Ot­toman Em­pire on for­eign pow­ers.

Many other ves­sels are on dis­play – in­clud­ing a small row­ing boat that be­longed to Ke­mal Atatürk – the Turk­ish gen­eral so ef­fec­tive in the Gal­lipoli cam­paign. The exhibition boasts scale mod­els of var­i­ous Ot­toman ships, semi-hulls, nav­i­ga­tion in­stru­ments, uni­forms, en­grav­ings, paint­ings and dec­o­ra­tions that be­longed to the last ships of the Ot­toman fleet, and many firearms.

Among the lat­ter is a small but mys­te­ri­ous Hab­s­burg cul­verin (can­non), cap­tured by the Turks at the gates of Vi­enna. It fea­tures a cu­ri­ous, dragon-like muz­zle.

NAVAL MU­SEUM Si­nan­pasa Ma­hallesi Be­sik­tas Cd. 6/1 34353 Be­sik­tas/is­tan­bul Open­ing time: 9am-5pm; week­ends 10am-6pm.

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