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Fiche détaillée Articles dans des revues avec comité de lecture
LONAARD Magazine 2, 9 (2012) 59-74
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At the periphery of the Empire: urban restructuring and architectural transformation in Ottoman Rhodes
Emma Maglio1

In 1522 Rhodes was conquered by the Knights of St. John and became part of the Ottoman Empire. The town retained economic prosperity but lost all strategic roles, reverting to a provincial rank. For these reasons and because of lacking sources, scholars little studied the Ottoman town of Rhodes, but travel reports and urban analysis suggest interesting remarks. The Turks reused pre-existing architectures and occupied the walled town, while Greek and Latin people were forced to live in suburbs. Relevant architectural changes, as seen through the sources and unpublished recent photos, concerned religious buildings: Latin churches were adapted to Djami, mesdjid or warehouses and Greek ones became houses. Inside the walls "Ottomanization" was carried out through few interventions occupying leading points of the town, while other important functions (such as the government seat and cemeteries) were moved outside the walls. The hypothesis proposed is Rhodes model of Islamic city, based on the market as an "empty center" with public buildings around it (Friday Mosque, bedesten, madrasa and hammam) and applied exploiting the existing sites. The Friday Mosque and a madrasa with hammam were built on top of the slope of the medieval market street, where there was a Christian monastery, and a bedesten may have been placed in a medieval building near the present Bezesten Djami. In addition, five new mosques were founded becoming new urban polarities. Rhodes was almost certainly divided in mahalla, residential units usually centered on a mosque: a mahalla worked as a self-sufficient district, generally extended from ten to few hundreds homes. This subdivision changed Rhodes urban structure, for streets gradually became cul de sac. It's not yet possible to outline the borders of Rhodes mahalla or identify their central mosques, but the sources attest that each mahalla had the name of its reference mosque. These considerations allowed drawing a first scheme of Rhodes urban fabric and its new polarities. The town can be considered a relevant example of Ottoman urban policy outside the motherland and could be taken as a reference in the study of other cities at the periphery of the empire, as a part of a larger comparative analysis.
1 :  LA3M - Laboratoire d'Archéologie Médiévale et Moderne en Méditerranée
Rhodes – Ottomans – urban history – polarity – mosque