Ottoman bird palaces preserve their beauty for 5 centuries

Ottoman bird palaces preserve their beauty for 5 centuries
Photo credit: Anadolu

In the Ottoman Empire, starting from the 16th century, birdhouses were built into the walls of some mosques, madrasas, and mausoleums to provide birds with a place to nest, and today, these birdhouses still host many bird species, Anadolu reported.

These structures, created as works of both architectural and humane aesthetic thought, are seen as symbols of the compassion shown towards living beings in the Ottoman civilization.

Bird palaces, constructed to shelter many bird species such as sparrows, pigeons, and starlings, were typically built in parts of architectural structures that received sunlight and were protected from the wind.

"Since the era of Suleiman the Magnificent, it is possible to find birdhouses built in different parts of the city,” historian and writer Mehmet Dilbaz told Anadolu.

Dilbaz underlined that birdhouses were usually made of brick or stone, but the first examples were wooden.

"Ottoman bird palaces were an aesthetic pleasure, many details of which we have lost today," he stressed.

Dilbaz highlighted that birdhouses were built for both aesthetic and protective purposes.

"If our ancestors had built these palaces just so birds could enter, stay here during summer and winter, lay their eggs, or protect themselves from the cold, snow, and rain, they would have just built four walls," Dilbaz said.

"However, since our ancestors had a sense of aesthetic pleasure, they built these birdhouses with elegance and detail, in harmony with the architectural elements of the period in which they were made," he noted.

“Therefore, the birdhouses that have survived to the present day clearly show the architectural and aesthetic taste of their era," according to Dilbaz.

"Birdhouses were not built just for aesthetic pleasure. Two hundred years ago, winters in Istanbul were very severe,” he said.

“In climates where the snow cover didn't lift for two months during these cold and intense winters, birdhouses were the only places where birds could enter, take shelter, and continue their lives," Dilbaz added.

Examples of birdhouses in Istanbul can be seen in many historical structures, such as the Uskudar Valide Sultan Mosque, Uskudar Ayazma Mosque, Eyup Sultan Mosque, Bali Pasha Mosque, Sehzade Mosque, the Tomb of Sultan Mustafa III, Grand Selimiye Mosque, Seyyid Hasan Pasha Madrasa, Sultan Mahmud I School, and the Millet Manuscript Library.

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