Ottoman Empire and -new Picture Essay

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Lifestyle of the Ottoman Empire
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Social structure of the
Ottoman Empire


Muslims Jews Armenians Rums

Rise of nationalism Ottomanism

Lifestyle Ottoman court Slavery Devşirme

v t e

Life in the Ottoman Empire was a mixture of western and eastern life. One unique characteristic of Ottoman life style was it was very fragmented. The millet concept generated this fragmentation and enabled to coexist in a mosaic of cultures. The Capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople also had a unique culture, mainly because it lay on two continents.

Some of the basic social structures with Ottoman flavours can be summarized under items such as Coffeehouse, Hammam etc.


1 Coffeehouse 2 Yalis 3 Hammam 4 Social Spaces 4.1 Social center 4.2 Parks 5 Government life 6 Economic Life 6.1 Retailers 6.2 Farmers' Market 6.3 Bazaar

For more details on this topic, see Coffeehouse.
Story teller at a coffeehouse

Socialization was a very important function in Turkish culture. Coffee shops were where people gathered and exchanged information. Coffee was an excuse to bring people together from different homes. The first coffeehouse was opened in 1473 in Istanbul, which was 20 years after the Fall of Constantinople.

With the extension of the Ottoman Empire, such as in the Middle East, since the 16th century, the coffeehouse (al-maqhah in Arabic qahveh-khaneh in Persian or kahvehane or kıraathane in Turkish) has served as a social gathering place where men assemble to drink coffee or tea, listen to music, read books, play chess and backgammon, perhaps hear a recitation from the works of Antar or from Shahnameh.

Play backgammon

Coffee shop


At the end of the 17th century, pashas, grand viziers and other distinguished citizens of Ottoman Istanbul began to build themselves elegant villas - yalis - along the shores of the Bosphorus. These served as summer residences, and the styles employed reflected their owners' prestige. Since then, the yalis that have been built have become larger and more elaborate, adopting Baroque, Art Nouveau and modern styles of architecture. Most of them still conform to a traditional plan, making maximum use of the waterfront and, inside, having a large sitting room surrounded by bedrooms.

A yali on