Islamic Architecture
Islamic architecture in Italy
I have just asked some questions about the existence of Islamic influences in Italy.

I'd like to know the appeal of influences from the Arab/Muslim in the architecture of central Italy. Also I'd like to have some examples to help me to understand the whole idea.
Hend Ismail
Islamic architecture in Italy
Hi Hend,

In our subject history of art and architecture, we took all arts and arch. Since the Pharoahs, (firstly, all art and architecture is based on the Pharoahs: the Greeks took from the Pharoahs, the Roman empire took from the Greeks, even with the same gods and columns, developing it). Then came the Holy Roman Empire, with Constantine making a capital of Constantinople in Turkey.

Afterwards came the Muslims who took all that art and architecture, developing it with good architects, to let it serve the Islamic relegion, for example the St. Sophia church in Turkey. When the Muslims came, they turned it into a mosque.
Bahgat Nofal
Islamic architecture in Italy
Hi Hend,

I just attended a symposium at Boston's Gardner Museum this weekend where some of the prominent scholars who work on these 'influences' -- Deborah Howard, Eva Hoffman, Gulru Necipoglu -- gave talks.

Eva Hoffman's talk, for me, confirmed the notion that the so-called 'influences' are really more than one-way exchanges. They are developed continuously in tandem, and at multiple locations, as a direct result of the lucrative of fashionable and desirable goods in the Mediterranean basin. Hoffman explained that a roundel motif that is seen on a Fatimid fabric from Egypt sold to, say, Naples, was later carved onto oliphants (pictured here) mass-produced all around the Mediterranean basin.

Nothing, in this light, could be considered as purely Islamic or Italianate... which, if you think about it, is the only version of history (as opposed to 'clash of civilisations' theory) that makes sense.

Looking at the maritime republics of Italy would be key in beginning to understand how these trade networks functioned. I recommend that you read Howard's "Venice & the East: The Impact of the Islamic World on Venetian Architecture 1100-1500" on this topic.

Necipoglu's talk took this notion one step further and basically re-configured Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II's architectural patronage in Istanbul/Constantinople as Renaissance structures (hence challenging the notions of what's Islamic and what's Western). Mehmed II, as she explained, saw himself as a historical counterpart of Alexander the Great, the only difference being the direction of expansion (from east to west as opposed to west to east). Necipoglu also reminded us that the cultural dynamics of the region were a direct result of the politico-religious trilogy of Italian Catholicism, Greek Orthodox Christianity and Ottoman Islam (with Aq Qoyunlu Islam playing as a forth stake partner until 1478).

And, last but not least are the works of the Arab rulers in Sicily, and of the Normans who came after them and developed these styles further. This is a separate topic on its own, and is very well-documented.
Ozgur Basak Alkan
Islamic architecture in Italy
East meets west
a sacred place on earth
between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara
at the point of Asia meets Europe

known as Queen of Cities, Vasileousa Polis
once the capital of Roman Empire, Nova Roma
followed by the Byzantine and Ottoman
a point of cultural exchange
Built the Hagia Sophia,
a 'holy wisdom' christian church, eastern orthodox to birth
in the garden of Roman Asia

lay far from Rome
yet not all the Rome dignities in place, an imperfect Roman Catholic city
spiritually weak, though possesed arrogance and blinded pride
fall of Constantinople!
Istanbul is to name
one of the greatest shame in Christinity
Buthered the faith in Greek Orthodox
The Ottomans conquered
Hagia Sophia, the virgin birth to Christianity
Raped of her faith and believe
Convert to a Mosque,
a drastic change from Bible to Quran
a LOST...
can never be regained...
Maya Sanskrit
Islamic architecture in Italy
Dear Ismail,
I suggest you to read this useful book, the renaissance bazar by Jerry Brotton, a fresh scholarly volume which explores the deep roots of contacts between east and west during medieval era and early renaissance Italy, Turkey are the major places for such cross cultural connections. Its also good to take a look at the biographical version of Jentile Bellini the Italian painter of Sulten Mehmed ofOttoman Empire. In my view when one intends to conduct a camparative study, other sources such as crafts, painting, sociology and history even trade and commerece can not be ignored since the art and architecture in purticular take form in complex layers of the above fields, they are the defining factors. Human connection stays the same but in different contexts. By the way Maya the last person who commented about the shame of christianity namede as Istanbul (constantinopolis)is somehow has not got the point. Fenatism is Fenatism wether you be Muslim or Christian. We are talking about a cultural heritage, human connection to this heritage. Muslim did not destroy Hagia Sphia they just turned it to their requirments whitout destroying it. True the function was changed but the Idea of preserving a monument even at the cost of altering its function is respectable considering that such thing happened centuries ago. That is the concept that artists politicians and human race should try to grasp and apply in today's world. Let us just broaden our perspective broader than our religion, race etc.
Mitra Lotfi Shemirani
Islamic architecture in Italy
Here are 3 indispensable volumes: (1) Venice and the Islamic World, 828-1797, exhibit at Metropolitan Museum in New York, published by Yale UP, 2007; (2) Deborah Howard, Venice & the East, Yale UP, 2000; (3) Rosamond E. Mack, Bazaar to Piazza, Islamic Trade and Italian ARt, 1300-1600, U. California P, 2002. These are hefty volumes but rich with information of the kind you are looking for. Good luck!
Elisabeth Braun
Islamic architecture in Italy
Ismail, a new contribution to the topic you are interested in is Gerald Macleans (ed.) "Re-Orienting the Renaissance: Cultural Exchanges with the East", London 2005
Mustafa Tupev


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