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Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire

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Sultans and Concubines and Eunuchs, oh my...!
Site visitors may navigate the encyclopedia using the
Ottoman Empire Index
or the
Encyclopedia Sources Page.
Term Meaning Comments
  1. The office, rank, and functions of the Grand Vizier.
  2. The office, rank, and functions of the Kazaskers of Rumeli and Anadolu.
sadaret kaymakamı
(also kaimmakamı)
The official representing the Grand Vizier in Istanbul while he was on campaign. 
sadaret kethüdasıThe Chief Assistant to the Grand Vizier. 
sadareti uzmaThe Grand Vizierate. 
sadaretpenahThe Grand Vizier. 
Sadrazam (Sadr-ı azam) The Grand Vizier and his entourage -- his staff working at civil service. Also often used to refer to the Grand Vizier himself. See next panel below for an illustrated in-depth assessment of the most famous Grand Viziers in Ottoman history -- according to:
A) Fame in the outside western world
B) Fame due to (total) length of time served
C) Fame despite being neither Turkish nor Muslim!

Popular Ottoman Historian
Yalçın Toker
provides his own intriguing insight
concerning the most famous
Grand Viziers of the Ottoman Empire...

Thanks to:
Gözcü Gazetesi
8 October 2004
Ottoman Rivals...
The Safavids established one of the longest enduring Islamic dynasties in Persia/Iran between 1502-1732. Their first warrior leader during that period was Şah Ismail who ruled between 1502 and 1524. During his reign, he posed a continuing threat to Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II (by whipping up Shiite religious sentiment in south-western Anatolia) and to Beyazid's son, Sultan Selim I -- who finally defeated (and, for a short while, effectively neutralized) the Persian Shiite leader at the Battle of Çaldıran in 1514. But the Safavids rose again under the leadership of Şah İsmail's son, Şah Tahmasp (ruled 1524 - 1576), to harass Ottoman interests until his death in 1576.

The Safavid religious order was first founded in Azerbaijan by Şeyh Safiuddin [Sheikh Safiyeddin Erdebili] (d. 1334). Although historians claim that he might have been a Sunni initially (See "The Islamic Dynasties", C.E.Bosworth, Edinburgh University Press, 1976), they also indicate that the order he founded had spread amongst the Shiites, and that he later converted to Shiite. It is also known that the Safavid state gathered clans of the Turks, Kurds, Persians, Uzbeks, Turcomans, Tajiks, Tartars together and incorporated them into their heterodox culture. (Or the state might have developed this doctrine which was suitable to the basic cultural structure of the majority of the people...)80
Iranian Dynasty. Originally founded by Şeyh Safiuddin (1252-1334). The movement began as contemplative sufiism and graduated into militant Shiism in the mid-15th century just when Murat II and Mehmet II were expanding Ottoman control into eastern Anatolia. Resistance to the expansion grew among the Anatolian population and the Safavids seized the opportunity, gaining many followers.26 Supported militarily by Uzun Hasan (1433-1478), who ruled the White Sheep Turkomans from 1453 until his death, the Safavids in Anatolia developed the distinctive red headgear -- in 12 folds commemorating the 12 shiite imams -- and became known as Kızılbaş (red head).26
[Vali] Said [Sa'id] Paşa

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Said Paşa, a macaroni and pastry lover...82

Ottoman viceroy of Egypt (1854-63). The Fourth son (born and raised in Alexandria [Egypt]) of Vali Mehmed Ali Paşa.
One of his most significant decisions was to grant an 'Act of Concession' in 1856 to a French consortium, represented by Ambassador Ferdinand de Lesseps -- for the construction of the Suez Canal. However, by 1859 both Said Paşa and the Ottoman sultan had cooled on the idea of the plan (because of British intrigue), and for the rest of Said's reign, work continued on the canal without 'official' cooperation. And, due to his early death (1863), Said Paşa never saw the canal's completion...66
Friendship born on a plate of macaroni...The roots of the friendship between Said Pasa and Ferdinand de Lesseps were deep and played an important role in the realization of the Suez Project -- over the objections of the British and some at the Ottoman Palace. Said Pasa's father Mehmed Ali Pasa first met and established a friendship with Lesseps in the last years of the Frenchmen's tenure as the French Consulate in Alexandria. Mehemed Ali was looking for someone to improve his son's French and to place the boy on a regimen to control his tendency to 'stoutness'. Lesseps filled the bill on both counts -- with his native French language ability and his private interest in physical fitness. So young Said became Lesseps' pupil. In time, the teacher/pupil relationship blossomed into friendship -- and Said Pasa would never forget how Lesseps used to encourage his French-language studies (at the expense of his physical fitness), with a plate filled with macaroni and French pastries!
Sakız Adası The Aegean Sea island of Chios.  
Saint Bartholomew's Day, Massacre of

Bloody hell...21
Use right mouse button to 'View' larger illustration...
"Mass slaying of Huguenots (Protestants) in Paris, on St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24, 1572. In order to increase the royal power, the queen mother, Catherine de Medicis, attempted to play the French Roman Catholic faction, led by the house of Guise, against the Huguenot faction, led by the house of Conde. Jealous of the growing power of the Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny, adviser to her son, King Charles IX, Catherine ordered Coligny's assassination. The plot failed, however, and a number of Huguenot leaders who were gathered in Paris for the wedding of Catherine's daughter to Henry of Navarre, later King Henry IV of France, demanded an investigation. Because an investigation would have implicated his mother, Charles was persuaded by the queen to order the murder of the Huguenot leaders. The number killed cannot be determined with any accuracy; estimates vary from 2000 to 100,000. Coligny was among the first to fall. The massacre spread from Paris to the provinces, causing new religious wars."21  
Saka Corporal of the Janissaries.

Uniformed corporal90
sancak (sandjak, sancak)
  1. The chief administrative unit of the Ottoman Empire, governed by a sancak beyi; subdivision of a beylerbeyilik.
  2. A flag, banner, standard or ensign.
    This latter usage often arises with proper names, such as:
    Sancakı Şerif  or
    Alsancak (meaning red flag), the name of the upscale Izmir city district.
sancak beyi The governor of a sancak.  
Saray Palace  
Sancakı ŞerifThe Islamic war-banner said to have belonged to The Prophet -- which he always carried into battle, reportedly .
The original (?) of it (not viewable by the general public) resides now in its silver chest in the Hırka-i Saadet chamber at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul.

The original was made of black woollen cloth and its remains (kept in a green taffeta bag) are much torn, rent and tattered, it is said. A different sacred banner of latter date, of green silk, is kept in a silver-plated conical-lidded reliquary. On it, they say, you can find the names of the Prophet's twelve companions -- inscribed around a gold embroidered quotation from the Koran presented on blood-red satin.

After The Prophet's death (in 632 AD), the Sancakı Şerif passed in succession to the next reigning caliph -- until Ataturk abolished the Caliphate in 1923. During the Ottoman centuries, the reigning sultan was also the caliph.

Ottoman battle standards were made, customarily, with a fragment of the Sancakı Şerif sewn into them -- to symbolise the banner of the Prophet.

Saray-i Atık-ı Amire The Old Palace see 'Eski Saray'
Saray Burnu 'Palace Nose' Cape of the Seraglio.
saray usta 'Mistress of Ceremonies' in the harem  
Sarık Odası Room of the Turban see Revan Köşkü
saruca (sarıca) Janissaries recruited from Turkish population who were adept at use of firearms. They came into existence after the reign of Süleyman I. They were similar to latter-day sekban units.

The Prince and the Slave-girl (with saz)
Illustration by the great Mustafa Delioğlu...20-2

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A lute-like musical instrument.  
Sazende A group of musicians.  

Ottoman water carrier90
A person who carried/dispensed water in public places.  
SefeviSee Safavid. 
Sehzade Son of a Sultan, a Prince.  
sekban Janissary 'divisions' originally responsible as keepers of the hounds, incorporated into the corps during the reign of Mehmed II. After Süleyman I's reign, they were recruited from the provincial native Turkish population -- which began undermining the devshirme system. At this later time, they were organized in groups of 50 to 100 men who were particularly skillful with the musket. Similar to the saruca groups.
Literal meaning is 'keeper of the hounds'.
selamlık An area of an Ottoman home that was reserved for men. at Topkapı Palace, the 'Selamlik' was the living quarters of the sultan
[Sultan] Selim I
Also known as Yavuz Selim
(i.e., Selim the Stern/Grave/Grim)

Will the real Sultan Selim I
please step forward...


Selim I18...or...Selim I80
According to most historians, both portraits represent the real Sultan Selim. The one on the right (in which Selim I is fully bearded) was found and authenticated (by Prof. Dr. Kudret Ayiter) in the castle of Reinhart Hausen, Germany, in 1972. But there remain certain unexplained 'curiosities' about the portrait on the left -- and some experts contend that it's really a picture of Selim's Safavid Persian rival, Shah Ismail. One such expert says...
"It's true that, among the early Ottoman Emperors, Sultan Selim I [usually] went without a full beard. (The reason for this has been explained by the sultan himself as 'not to give my beard into the hands of the statesmen'.) But Shah Ismail did not wear a beard either. The suspicious part of the portrait [at left] is the earring. Such an earring would have been worn by Shah Ismail, not by Sultan Selim, since Shah Ismail was a dervish of Kudbeddin Haydar. (See "The Sufi Orders in Islam", J. Spencer Trimingham, Oxford, 1971.) It is known that the Kudbeddin dervishes used to wear a single earring named "Mengüsh". The second point of interest of the portrait [at left] is the turban. This variety of turban is not to be found in any of the other early Ottoman Sultans. The third point of suspicion is the pearl necklace. It is inconceivable that Sultan Selim I, who has been described by the historians as "the sovereign who did not like adornments", should wear such a necklace. According to information given by art historians Dr. Filiz Çağman and Dr. Zeren Tanindi, the picture [at left] was brought from Dolmabahçe Palace to the newly established Topkapı Museum in 1929. The artist is unknown. It might have been made in the recent past. In the light of these points, we are advancing the argument that the portrait might not be Sultan Selim's, but Shah Ismail's..."
From the article by Nezih Uzel80

Reigned 1512-1520. Arguably the most successful "short term" Sultan. A great warrior and brutal adversary, he doubled Ottoman holdings in Islamic Asia and, as protector of the caliphate he transferred many Muslim Holy Relics (e.g., The Prophet Muhammad's standard and cloak) from Mecca and Medina to TOPKAPI Palace. He also boosted the Empire's wealth to unprecedented levels.
His nickname, The Grim, was well earned -- he ordered the execution of 7 Grand Viziers, in addition to numerous state officials and generals. "Let you be one of Selim's Viziers!" became the favorite curse of the day.

A Personality Profile...
When Padişah Yavuz Selim was preparing for his campaign against Egypt in 1517, he borrowed money on behalf of the Ottoman State from one of the richest men of the era, a wealthy merchant. Very soon afterwards the rich man died, leaving two orphan sons behind. The occurrence was recorded with this entry in an official Ottoman diary: "There's no need to re-pay the debt incurred by the State. The merchant, along with his two sons, left behind an enormous diamond. And a portion of the diamond's worth may be confiscated by the State." But the Sultan rejected the proposal, and underneath the original entry he wrote this poem:
Olüye rahmet
Malına bereket
Evlatlarına afiyet
Gammaza lanet...

which may be translated as:
May God have mercy on the deceased
May the diamond breed and become abundant
May the children have good health
May the informing tattle-tale be damned.63
Chronology of Events during his reign:
1512 Selim I ascends forcibly to the throne over his father Bayezid II (24 April); there's revolt in north-east Anatolia; ousted Sultan Bayezid II dies (26 May). 1512-13 Selim I defeats and executes his brothers and suppresses supporters of Shah Ismail in Anatolia. 1514 Selim defeats Shah Ismail at Çaldiran (23 August). 1515 Janissaries mutiny (February); Kemah captured (19 May); Principality of Dulkadir falls (June). 1516 DIYARBAKIR captured (April); Eastern Anatolia submits to the Ottomans; Selim defeats the Mamluks at Marj Dabik (24 August) ; Selim in Aleppo. 1517 Battle of Reydaniyya (22 January); Tuman Bey resists in Cairo; Sherif of Mecca submits (17 July). 1520 Selim I dies (21 September); Süleyman I ascends (30 September).
[Sultan] Selim II
(b.1524 -- d.1574)
Turkish Nicknames:
Sarı Selim [Selim the Sallow]
Sarhoş Selim [Selim the Drunk]
Western Nickname:
Selim the Sot

An official portrait74
sultan selim ii

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Runt of the litter: Selim (mothered by Hürrem Sultan) was the worst of Süleyman's sons in contention for the throne. The other more worthy ones were: Beyazid (also by Hürrem) and Mustafa (by Suleyman's former favorite Mahidevran). [There were two other son's from the union of Süleyman and Hürrem. The first, Cihangir was handicapped and could not, by law, be a contender. The other, Mehmet, died young.] Yet Selim prevailed to gain the throne -- through a combination of luck, treachery, and outside-help from a 'team' of conspirators led by his mother.
Suleyman the Magnificent's debaucherous son and oft-maligned successor to the throne -- who reigned between 1566 and 1574. His reign marks the beginning of the long downward slide of Ottoman fortunes. It might have been worse, however, except for the efforts of his Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Paşa ('inherited' from Süleyman) -- who did much to keep the Empire 'afloat' while the sultan over-indulged himself in drunken, binge-driven orgies in the Harem. Sultan Selim's loutish behavior even determined his foreign policy at times. For example, the sultan bade Sokollu Mehmed Paşa to invade and capture Cyprus -- only because his favorite wine was produced there.
Selim's wife, Nur Banu Sultan (Cecilia Baffo-Venier), was a woman of indisputable political acumen -- the second generation (after Hürrem Sultan) of the Reign of Women. In a loyal alliance with Sokollu Mehmed Paşa, she was an excellent ambassodress after Selim's death -- skilled in keeping the peace with enemies and renewing ties of friendship with Iran (1574), Venice (1575) and the Habsburgs (1577). 7
Her son became Sultan Murad III (who 'ruled' from 1574 to 1595, but who was putty in her hands).
Chronology of events during his reign:
1566 Süleyman the Magnificent dies (of natural causes) on his final expedition (which was victorious, as usual) -- at the fort of Sigetvar/Szigetvar on the Hungarian border, Selim II accedes to the throne. 1566 Istanbul is Europe's biggest city (500,000 inhabitants). 1569 The great fire of Istanbul. 1569 The Second French Capitulations are signed. 1570 Ottoman forces take Limasol, Lefkoşa (Nicosia) and Girne in Kıbrıs (Cyprus), previously Venetian-held. 21 September 1571 Sultan Selim's Decree to re-populate Cyprus from mainland Turkey. 7 October 1571 Battle of Lepanto (off the Morean coast), the last great naval battle between galleys takes place. The Allied fleet led by Don Juan of Austria clobbers the Ottoman fleet, except for one squadron commanded by Kiliç Ali Paşsa. 1571-1572 While Europe foolishly rejoices over naval victory at Lepanto, Selim completely rebuilds the Turkish fleet -- as formidable as ever. 1574 Selim II dies, Murad III accedes to throne, Sokollu Mehmed Paşa becomes Grand Vizier to his third sultan in a row.

Selim's weaknesses were many, but his Grand Vizier, Sokollu Mehmed Paşa helped keep the Empire on track after Süleyman's death.
Detail of a nakış, showing Selim II's ascension -- with Sokollu Mehmed Paşa attending
(to sultan's immediate right).

selim ii accedes, with sokollu
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A libertine's last bash: "Selim the Sot died suddenly, as the accidental result of a last solitary debauch. Superstitious by nature, he had seen portents of his approaching end in the appearance of a comet, a destructive earthquake in Constantinople, floods which threatened the holy places of Mecca -- but above all a serious fire in the kitchens of his Seraglio, which destroyed also its wine cellars. This seemed to confirm his premonitions, since the death of his grandfather had been preceded by a fire in the Seraglio of Adrianople. Disconsolate, he paid a visit to a Turkish bath that he had lately built and whose walls were not yet dry. To deaden his fears he drank, at a single draft, a whole bottle of Cyprus wine. Then, tottering unsteadily, he slipped and fell to the floor, cracking his skull on its marble flags and thus precipitating a fatal fever. Such was the not inappropriate end of Turkey's least distinguished Sultan."16
[Sultan] Selim III
Reigned between 1789 and 1807

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The 'standard' Ottoman portrait of Selim III16

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Selim III observes the fruits of his reforms...
A 'New Order' military unit, on parade...68

Selim III came to power at the outset of the French Revolution (begun 1789) -- which saw the demise of the French monarchy (and of Selim's 'pen-friend' Louis XVI, who was guillotined by the mob on Jan 21, 1793) and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte to first Consul of France (in 1799), then Emperor (in 1804). There is little evidence that Selim understood the implications (to his own realm) of the French revolutionary 'experience' -- which foreshadowed problems of his own to come. And Napoleon proved a troublesome adversary -- particularly during the General's Egyptian Expedition, begun July 1, 1798...

Selim's reforms alienated many powerful people among the Ottoman elite (especially within the Janissary Corps) -- and despite the stature of the sultan's supporters, their commitment to his 'cause' only ran skin-deep. So, when (on May 25, 1807) the Janissary Kabakçı Mustafa led a revolt against the Nizam-i Cedid (New Order) uniforms decree (a symbol of a much wider disaffection), Selim's 'star' burned out and fell rapidly to earth. On May 29, Selim (faced with a widening revolt) was forced to resign in favor of his cousin Mustafa IV -- thus ending the reign, in abject failure, of the most liberal of Ottoman reformers to date.
Selim III met a violent end when supporters (notably Mustafa Bayrakdar -- who wished to reinstate him to the Sultanate) frightened Sultan Mustafa, who quickly ordered cousin Selim's death. Assassins murdered Selim by strangulation after a valiant struggle.

Sultan Selim III ascended to the Ottoman throne (on August 6, 1789) after the death (by natural causes) of Sultan Abdulhamid I. He assumed power at one of the Ottoman Empire's darkest hours -- after a long series of devastating Ottoman defeats at the hands of Russian forces (sponsored by Catherine the Great) starting in 1774 (when Russian General Alexander Suvorov [one of the great military figures of his time] crushed the Ottomans at Kozluca -- forcing the 'fateful' Treaty of Küçuk Kaynarca upon them.).
Like his father Sultan Mustafa III (and his predecessor Abdulhamid I), Selim was a serious-minded reformer -- not just of the Ottoman military, but also of the Ottoman public sector. And he was more 'daring' than Mustafa III, soliciting reform suggestions from a wide range of advisors and then debating them in an open forum -- something that had never been done before. The scope of the reform suggestions turned out to be much broader than originally anticipated. So, the resulting reform 'package' had an ambitious goal to rejuvenate all aspects of life in the Empire and to restore it to economic prosperity -- though admittedly its emphasis was on military reform, first and foremost. And, as soon as Selim III had signed the 'Yaş Antlaşması" ('The Summer Agreement' -- also known as 'The Peace of Jassy') with the Russians in 1792, he set out in pursuit of that goal.
In the process, the Sultan (an admirer of the French King Louis XVI, with whom he often corresponded) sought French help. For example, he 'imported' French cannon experts to modernize the Ottoman 'Top Ocağı' (Janissary Cannon Brigade)...
Selim III's military reforms caused a halving of the bloated Janissary Corps that had swelled to 60,000 members. To encourage acceptance of this drastic measure, the sultan arranged to make immediate payment of Janissary salaries in arrears, to increase the salaries of the remaining 30,000 members, and to ensure that their salaries were paid on time. He attempted similar drastic reductions in the rolls of the Sipahi Corps, using a series of 'carrot and stick' measures -- as he'd done with the Janissaries. But his Janissay/Sipahi reform efforts were not especially successful, due to entrenched negative attitudes within those two organizations.
He met with greater success, however, in reforming the Topcu (Artillery), Humbaracı (Mortar), Lağımcı (Mine-laying), and Top Arabacı (Cannon-wagon) corps -- which had been previously influenced by the work of Baron François de Tott (1730-1793) and others.26
But, his greatest success at military reform came with vast improvements to the Ottoman Navy. By the time of Selim III's accession, the Ottoman Navy had just 22 modern ships -- and the entire naval cadre of officers and men were largely incompetent, by European standards. The sultan placed the problem squarely in the hands of his childhood companion, Küçük Hüseyin Paşa, who held the post of Kapudan Paşa (from March 11, 1792 to January 7, 1803) throughout much of Selim III's reign. Laws were passed and enforced to improve the quality of the existing Naval Officer Corps -- and to weed it out. New recruitment criteria were tightened -- and made more attractive to a more able cadre of officers and men. Salaries improved and promotions began to be made solely on merit -- dispensing with the bribery and influence-peddling of the past. New ships were built in increasing numbers to the highest standards of the European ship-building 'art' -- and Selim's "New Order" Navy began to hold it's own against European (and Russian) adversaries.

See depiction of Selim III holding court,
in his harem...
seraglio, Seraglio The name of the point where Topkapı Palace overlooks The Sea of Marmara at the entrance to the Bosphorus; often used as a synonymous term for 'The Palace'. Name by which the whole Palace complex came to be known, first by Europeans, and then by the Ottomans too. The land on which the Palace resides (overlooking the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn [Haliç], and the Sea of Marmara) is called Seraglio Point.
Serdar-ı Ekrem A title given to an Ottoman vizier who was himself the Commander and Chief of his own War Campaigns. (Not all Ottoman viziers were sufficiently skilled in military affairs -- or brave enough.)
Serdar-ı Ekrem
Ömer Fevzi Paşa

Ömer Fevzi Paşa, was both skilled and brave enough to command his own troops in battle, and was thus given the title 'Serdar-ı Ekrem'.
Click for enlargement!

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18th century representation of the
Seretan astrological symbol.64

The Osmanlı (Ottoman) astrological sign -- equivalent to Yengeç in modern Turkish, and Cancer in English. Covers the modern day period of 21 June to 22 July. In Ottoman times, Seretan was designated one of the three Summer astro-signs, along with Esed and Sünbüle. (The Ottomans could learn the exact dates of these lunar periods from the Gurrename...)
A detail related to this sign is that Murad II, Murad III, Murad IV, and Mahmud II were all born under it.
See burçlar for complete list of Osmanlı (Ottoman), Modern Turkish, and English astrological signs.
Click to see sample Turkish astrological predictions...
Shah IsmailSee Şah Ismail. 
sharia see şeriat  
Shawl Gate See Perde Kapısı.  
sıcaklık Room in the baths corresponding to the calidarium.  
sımıt Bread rings with sesame seeds, similar to bagels in appearance and taste. (Crispy on the outside, doughy on the inside.)  
Silahdar The sultan's official sword-bearer.  

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An 18th C. sipahi -- with shouldered cirid... 74

An Ottoman cavalryman. The lowest rank in the timariot army (see timar).
Siyer-i Nebi

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A miniature (nakış) from Siyer-i Nebi
depicting Ali bin Abu Taleb beheading Nasr bin al-Hareth in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions.
In 1995, this miniature (measuring just 7 by 9 inches approximately) fetched £ 42,000 at Sotheby's in London. Curiously, in this depiction Muhammad's face has been 'whited out'. Whether that was the original artist's affectation or the work of a subsequent 'religious censor' is unknown.

A six-volume 16th-Century work written and illustrated for Sultan Murad III.
In Turkish, the title means 'Rules [of Muslim Conduct] of a Prophet'.
Skanderbeg (also Scanderbeg, Iskender Bey, and Alexander Bey)
(birth name: George Kastrioti)
b. 1405 d. 1468
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A Skanderbeg Emblem
The caption says (approximately), "A picture of Alexander Bey (Skanderbeg) who worked for the Ottoman State a long while before rebelling in Albania."68

A 'romantic' depiction of the Albanian hero...
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And another...

"He was the youngest son of John Kastrioti, head of a powerful Albanian family whose holdings in the central and northern parts of the region included the important fortress of Kruje. Kastrioti the elder was defeated during the early Turkish incursions into Albania, and Kruje was garrisoned by the Sultan. As earnest of his future obedience Kastrioti was forced to give his sons as hostages, and George was educated at the Turkish military school at Adrianople. He is known to have embraced Islam, and to have impressed Sultan Murad II with his promise; he was attached to the Sultan's personal staff for a period, and given the name Iskander, or Alexander, a revered name in Asia Minor since the days of the god-king of Macedon. His rank was Bey, and 'Skanderbeg' was the corruption of his Turkish name and rank produced in later years by his Albanian countrymen."67

Born Albanian, Skanderbeg was a one-time high-ranking Ottoman 'kul' (on the personal staff of Sultan Murad II) who deserted to become Albania's national military hero -- and Ottoman Empire nemesis. In renouncing his Ottoman upbringing and the Islamic religion, he also attained hero status among Christians throughout Europe. After his desertion, he was an extremely successful Ottoman adversary (sometimes in conjunction with the Hungarian hero, Hunyadi, and the duplicitous Serb, Brankovic -- after 1444). Chronology of Events
1443 Skanderbeg served in the army of Sultan Murad II -- against the Hungarians (see Janos Hunyadi), and he was actually on the field of battle near Nish in Serbia when news was brought of an Albanian uprising against Turkish rule. Leaving the field, Skanderbeg hurried to Kruje and succeeded in expelling the Turkish garrison. He hoisted the Albanian flag, proclaimed his return to the Christian faith, and dedicated himself to a holy war against the Turks. After retaking his own family's possessions he appealed to Albanians to unite against the common enemy; and a national convention at Alessio named him Commander-in-Chief of the troops of an Albanian League. For the rest of his life Skanderbeg contrived to keep his land free from the Turks, despite both the intense efforts of the Sultan's armies and the intrigues and treacheries of his various allies; prominent among the latter were the Venetians, whose trading network in the Balkans placed them in an ambiguous position vis-à-vis national independence movements. 1450 Murad II in person came to seize Kruje from his former protègè. Skanderbeg did not shut himself up with the garrison, but harassed the Turks from the surrounding hills until they were forced to lift the siege and retire. Although the damage they inflicted during their retreat was appalling on both sides, this victory made Skanderbeg a hero throughout Christendom. In need of foreign backing, he agreed to serve the King of Naples (at the time, Alfonso V of Aragon) in a limited capacity; this brought him Catalan troops to man Kruje, gold to hire mercenaries, and the experience of a campaign in Italy on Alfonso's behalf. In every campaigning season between 1455 and 1462 the Turks sent armies into Albania, and every time Skanderbeg defeated them. Simultaneously he pursued an able diplomatic struggle with the Venetians, even acquiring Venetian gold and soldiers for his lonely resistance against the Turks. 1466 Mehmed II came in person to besiege Kruje, as his father had done before him; and as his father had done before him, he was forced to retreat with great loss. The Turkish army was badly mauled, and its renegade Albanian general Balaban Pasha was killed. On the strength of this spectacular triumph the Pope (Paul II) organised financial and other support for Skanderbeg, who repeated the exploit the following year when Mehmed II returned to Kruje once again. 17 January 1468 Skanderbeg died at Alessio; he remains Albania's central folk-hero, and rightly so, for the relative ease with which the Turks took the country after his death testifies to the importance of his personal achievement. Kruje held out until 1478, but for years before that date it was an isolated stronghold in a conquered land.67
sofa A waiting room.  
Sofa Köşkü Kiosk of Mustafa Pasha  
Soğuk Çeşme Kapısı Gate of the Fountain lit. Gate of the Cold Water Fountain
Sokollu Mehmed Paşa
[also seen as Sokullu Mehmed Paşa]

A nakış from the Hünername...
Sokollu Mehmed Paşa accompanying Süleyman the Magnificent's death-carriage, returning home after
the Ottoman victory at Sigetvar.

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to view a larger image...
Painting of Suleyman's death-carriage procession
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to view a larger image...
The highly talented Grand Vizier to three Sultans -- Süleyman I (The Magnificent), Selim II (The Sot) and Murad III. He met a sad fate, though, when, like others before him, he fell out of favor and was executed -- without any objection by the pliable Sultan. However, since his public record was 'faultless', his killing was made to look like an assassination by an outsider. Sokollu was one of the first to envision a "grand enterprise in the form of a canal across the Isthmus of Suez, designed to link the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and beyond." When Sokollu fell out favor with powerful courtiers during the decadent reign of Murad III, his friends and proteges were first disgraced and then, one by one, executed. Finally, Sokollu himself was attacked and murdered in his own home -- by an apparently crazed dervish. His murderer was captured but the crime was conveniently attributed to a personal grievance.

Depiction of Sokollu's assassination...5
Solak Guardsman who attended the Sultan in processions.

Sultan's attendant90
spadoni Eunuchs whose testicles had been cut off.  
subaşılıkSee zeamet. 
Sublime Porte

Thomas Allom, Entrance to the Divan c. 184019
This gate was also known as Bab-i Saadet (The Gate of Felicity)...
Name given at various times to:
1) The palace gate referred to as Bab-i Saadat in Turkish. One gained access from this gate to the Second Court of the Grand Vizier and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Divan).
2) The Grand Vizier's Palace/Offices (after 1654) -- across the road from the Gate of the Cool Fountain and the Alay Kiosk. In this capacity, it was also called Bab-i Ali or Bab-i Asafi.
3) The Government of the Ottoman Empire.
(sometimes seen as sofi)
From Chapter 1 --
'The Eye of the Heart'...81
"For sufis, as for all Muslims, the Koran is the fundamental guide in matters relating to their religious faith. What distinguishes sufis from other Muslims lies largely in the way they interpret this guide. Sufis advocate an allegorical interpretation of the Koran believing that symbolic or mystical meanings lie concealed beneath its literal sense.
Sufis believe that in order to discover these symbolic meanings one must be able to read the Koran with the "eye of the heart", not with the eyes of one's head. This belief is grounded in the sixth surah of the Koran which reads: There is no God save Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. He taketh care of all things. The eyes of the head comprehendeth Him not. He comprehendeth all that the eye comprehends. He is sub-tle. He is aware of all things. In the matter of comprehending God, the eye of the heart has been bestowed by God. And whoever seeth it is for his own good, and whoever is blind is blind to his own hurt. The term "eye of the heart" is a metaphor for insight, the ability to see and understand clearly the inner nature and meaning of things. It is, however, a particular kind of insight, one wholly dependent on divine inspiration... Nothing is more central to sufism than this "eye of the heart." The practices which comprise the basis of the sufi way of life are all geared toward making this "eye" more receptive to divine illumination. "
A religious devotee (of Islam) -- whose faith has a mystical quality. A dervish, a mystic."Sufis have long regarded pride as the greatest obstacle which lies between man and God. They recognize that pride stems from the great pleasure man takes in his own accomplishments. They also recognize that this pleasure is never more intense than when these accomplishments earn him the praise of others. As sufis are called to live their lives not according to their own wills, but in response to divine revelation and inspiration, they regard any sense of personal accomplishment as inimical to their vocation. As divine inspiration often requires sufis to adopt beliefs and practices which conflict with what custom considers fitting and proper, they also look upon the desire for praise as an obstacle to be overcome. In short, sufis regard as most virtuous those who have learned to live without pride."81
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Family Tree of Sultans through 1867
Topkapı Saray Museum
The sovereign of the Ottoman Empire. Other members of the royal family, male and female were permitted to use the title after their given names.
sultanate (sultanat)The [Ottoman] ruling body headed by the Sultan. 
Sultan's Gate See Bab-i Hümayun  
(also seen as sure and surah)
Chapters/verses in the Holy Koran.  
[Sultan] Süleyman I
(The Magnificent)
Kanuni Süleyman
(He was known in the Ottoman world as
'The Law-Giver Süleyman')

Fearless Sultan Süleyman91

The Young Süleyman21

Süleyman in middle age...6

Rare likeness of an aging Süleyman...6

Will Durant asks, "Must we judge and rank him? Compared with his analogues in the West he seems at times more civilized, at times more barbarous. Of the four great rulers in this first half of the sixteenth century, Francis, despite his swashbuckling vanity and his hesitant persecutions, strikes us as the most civilized; yet he looked to Süleyman as his protector and ally, without whom he might have been destroyed. Süleyman won his lifelong duel with the West; indeed, in 1568 the West resumed payments of tribute to 'the Porte' [the Ottoman Empire]. Charles V had stopped the Sultan at Vienna, but what Christian army had dared approach Constantinople? Süleyman was master of the Mediterranean, and for a time it seemed that [the Pope in] Rome remained Christian by his and Barbarossa's sufferance. He ruled his empire indifferently well, but how much more successfully than poor Charles struggling against the princely fragmentation of Germany! He was a despot, by unquestioned custom and the consent of his people; did the absolutism of Henry VIII or of Charles win such public affection and confidence? Charles could hardly have been capable of ordering the execution of his son on mere suspicion of disloyalty; but Charles in his old age could cry out for the blood of heretics, and Henry could send wives and Catholics and Protestants to the block or the pyre without missing a meal. Süleyman's religious tolerance, limited though it was, makes the executions look barbarous by comparison. Süleyman fought too many wars, killed half his progeny, had a creative vizier (Ibrahim) slain without warning or trial; he had the faults that go with unchecked power. But beyond question he was the greatest and ablest ruler of his age."35
The 10th Ottoman Sultan, reached power upon the death of his father, Selim I (The Grim) without the usual need to fight his way to the throne. He inherited an Empire that was thriving and respected, and he proceeded to improve on it dramatically.
Lord Kinross saw his ascendancy in these terms, "In the West he was to become an integral element in the Christian balance of power. In the Islamic East great glories were predicted for him. The tenth Ottoman Sultan, reigning at the start of the tenth century of the Hegira, he was in Moslem eyes the living incarnation of the blessed number ten-the number of man's fingers and toes and ten senses, the ten parts of the Koran and its variants, the Ten Commandments of the Pentateuch, the ten disciples of the Prophet, the ten skies of the Islamic heavens and the ten guardian spirits presiding within them. Oriental tradition related that at the start of each century a great man arose, destined to "take it by the horns," to master it and become its embodiment; and here now he was, in the shape of Süleyman, the "Perfector of the Perfect Number," hence the Angel of Heaven."16
He soon captured Belgrade and Rhodes, which had frustrated the best efforts of his predecessors and he came within an ounce of taking Vienna -- only the onset of winter saved the Christian world at the bell in 1529! Süleyman I reigned between 1520 to 1566. He was known throughout the civilized world as 'The Magnificent', even among such big-name-players as Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor -- ruling Spain, Germany, parts of Italy), Henry VIII (Tudor, King of England), and Francis I (Valois, King of France). During Wars between Valois-Hapsburgs, Süleyman consistently supported Francis I against Charles V. Süleyman was too greatly influenced by his wife, Hürrem Sultana, which in two cases resulted in his ordering the death of his highly talented Grand Vizier, Ibrahim, and his first born son, Mustafa (of his first 'wife', Mahidevran [Anna]), for suspected treason. Later, he first facilitated the exile and then ordered the death of another competent son, Bayezid (of Hürrem) -- after Bayezid and his worthless brother, Selim, began to engage in bitter and jealous succession battles, in anticipation of Süleyman's abdication. If we overlook these few incidents, though, Süleyman lived up to his "Magnificent" sobriquet with flying colors. But, by eliminating the competent and well-liked heirs, Mustafa and Bayezid, he paved the way for the worst Ottoman Sultan ever seen to that date -- Selim, the Sot. And from that point forward, the Ottoman Empire began it's long decline and eventual 'fall from grace'.
Chronology of Events during his reign:
1520 Selim I dies (21 September); Süleyman I ascends (30 September). 1521 S. conquers Belgrade (29 August); defeats and executes Janbardi Ghazaly in Syria (February). 1522 End of the Dulkadir dynasty; S. takes Rhodes (January 21). 1523 Ibrahim becomes Grand Vizier. 1524 Ahmed Pasha revolts in Egypt (January). 1525 Ibrahim in Egypt (24 March-14 June). 1526 Battle of Mohacs (29 August); Süleyman in Buda (10 September); John Zapolya becomes King of Hungary (10 November). 1527 Ferdinand of Austria in Buda. 1529 S. captures Buda (8 September); Zapolya crowned in Buda (14 September); S. besieges Vienna (26 September - 16 October). 1531 The Austrians besiege Buda (December). 1532 S. campaigns against Austria; captures Güns (28 August); Andrea Doria captures Coron (8 August). 1533 Peace with Ferdinand (22 June); Hayreddin Barbarossa becomes Grand Admiral; Barbarossa conquers Tunis (August); B. reconquers Coron (12 September); war with Iran (August). 1534 S. conquers Tabriz (13 July); allegiance of the Sultan of Gilan; S. in Baghdad. 1535 S. returns to Tabriz (spring); Charles V in Tunis (21 July). 1536 S. returns to Istanbul (8 January); has Ibrahim executed (5 March) under pressure from Hürrem. 1537 War with Venice; S. in Albania; Ottoman raid into Apulia (July); siege of Corfu (25 August); S. returns to Istanbul (1 October). 1538 S. in Moldavia (summer); annexation of southern Moldavia (4 October); Süleyman Pasha of Egypt before Diu (4 September); naval Battle of Pröveza (29 September). 1539 Conquest of Castelnuovo (10 August). 1540 Peace with Venice (2 October); surrender of Monemvasia and Napoli di Romagna; Zapolya dies; the Austrians besiege Buda. 1541 Süleyman's campaign against Ferdinand; S. in Buda (2 September); Ottomans annex Hungary; Charles V before Algiers (20 October). 1543 The Franco-Ottoman fleet takes Nice (20 August); S. in Hungary; conquers Valpovo, Pöcs, Siklös, and Gran. 1544 S. conquers Vishegrad. 1545 Armistice between S. and Ferdinand. 1547 Peace treaty between the Ottomans and the Hapsburgs, including the Pope, Venice and the King of France (1 August). 1548 S. campaigns against Iran; conquers Van (25 August). 1549 S. Conquers towns in Georgia; returns to Istanbul (12 December). 1551 The Ottomans in Transylvania; Becskerek, Varad, Csanad and Lippa fall to Ottomans; Turgud (Turgut) Reis (Dragut) captures Tripoli (14 August). 1552 Temesvar conquered (July) along with other cities in Banat; Ottomans fail against the Portuguese at Hormuz; Russians occupy Kazan; Ottomans fail at Erlau (October). 1553 War with Iran; S. in Eregli (Karaman); has his son, Mustafa executed under pressure from Hürrem. 1554 Süleyman campaigns in Iran; conquers Nakhchevan and Erivan (Revan); Russians occupy Astrakhan. 1555 Peace with Iran at Amasya (29 May). 1556 Inauguration of the Süleymaniye mosque (16 August). Warfare continues against the Austrians in Hungary. 1559 Civil war breaks out between Süleyman's sons, Selim and Bayezid (May); Bayezid takes refuge in Iran (November). 1560 The Spaniards on Djerba; Piyale Pasha captures Djerba (3I July). 1561 Prince Bayezid executed (25 September, probably on Süleyman's order); the Cossacks attack Azov. 1562 Peace with Emperor Ferdinand (1 July) 1565 Siege of Malta (20 May - 11 September). 1566 Siege and victory at Szigetvar/Sigetvar (5 August - 7 September) Süleyman dies (of natural causes) at the moment of victory at Szigetvar/Sigetvar on Hungarian border (6 September); Selim II, The Sot, ascends (24 September).
Compare Süleyman I with Charles V
Compare Süleyman with Francis I
Compare Süleyman with Henry VIII
View Map of Suleyman's Empire
See his Immediate Family Tree
Süleyman's Complete Immediate
Family Tree54
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[The Grand Viziers of] Süleyman I (The Magnificent)
Who? When did he serve? What was his end? Fact or Faction?
Piri Mehmed Pasa 'Inherited' from reign of previous Sultan (Selim I), he remained until 27 June 1523. Forced retirement
(tekaüde sevk)
İbrahim Paşa
(Brother-in-Law [Damad])
27 June 1523 - 5 March 1536 Executed Married to the Princess Hatice (Hadije), Süleyman's sister. She later re-married one İskender Paşa.
Ayas Mehmed Paşa 15 March 1536 - 13 July 1539 Died Rumored to have a huge sexual appetite, he apparently skipped the 'honor' of marrying a Princess.
Lütfi Paşa
(Brother-in-Law [Damad])
13 July 1539 - April 1541 Dismissed
Married to the Princess Şah, Süleyman's sister.
Hadım Süleyman Paşa April 1541 - 28 November 1544 Dismissed Was a Eunuch.
Rüstem Paşa
(Son-in-Law [Damad])
First time:
28 November 1544 - 6 October 1553
Dismissed at the demand of the Janissaries, in connection with his plotting against the popular Mustafa, Süleyman's oldest son... Married to the Princess Mihrimah, Süleyman's daughter.
Kara Ahmed Paşa
(Brother-in-Law [Damad])
6 October 1553 -29 September 1555 Executed Married to the Princess Fatma, Süleyman's sister.
Rüstem Paşa
(Son-in-Law [Damad])
Second time:
29 September 1555 -15 July 1561
Died Married to the Princess Mihrimah, Süleyman's daughter.
Semiz Ali Paşa
(Grand-Son-in-Law [Damad])
10 July 1581 - 28 June 1565 Died Married to the Princess Hümaşah Ayşe, Süleyman's grand-daughter.
Sokollu Mehmed Paşa
(Grand-Son-in-Law [Damad])
28 June 1565 -6 September 1566. After Süyleman's death, he continued into reign of the next two Sultans (Selim II and Murat III) Assassinated, 12 October 1579 while Murat III 'looked the other way'... Married to the Princess İsmihan, Süleyman's granddaughter.

Ottoman Empire at the time of Süleyman's death in 156654
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"Declaration of the Unity of God."
A work from the mid-1800s by Sultan Abdülmecid I
in the sülüs calligraphic style.78

A style of Islamic calligraphic writing (see hattatlık) similar to nesih, but which is thicker. It was used primarily on the pulpits (minbar) of mosques (cami) and in inscriptions over mosque doors. 
Sünnet Odası Chamber of the Circumcision, reserved exclusively for the rites of the royal princes -- in Topkapı Palace.  
sütnine Wet-nurses  
Sünni The Sunnite religious denomination of Islam. Due to its larger size, Sunni is considered as the orthodox denomination. The Shiite (heterodox denomination) is the second largest.
"Every Sunni must follow one of four accepted schools -- Hanafı, Malıkı, Shafıı, or Hanbalı. Its precepts dictate how a believer performs his religious duties and how he interprets Islamic Law. Though he may properly feel that his own school is in some sense better -- and there have been occasions of religious tensions between one school and another -- the official position is that all four are right and acceptable."30
The Sunnis are said to represent 'orthodox' Islam -- and hold different views from Shiites, especially about vested power of religious leaders and about succession rights. Turkish people are predominantly Sunni Hanafı in religious orientation. Many 'experts' even believe that they 'set the standard' for Sunni believers around the world. Also see, Şii (Shiite)

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18th century representation of the
Sünbüle astrological symbol.76

The Osmanlı (Ottoman) astrological sign -- equivalent to Başak in modern Turkish, and Virgo in English. Covers the modern day period of 23 August to 21 September. In Ottoman times, Sünbüle was designated one of the three Summer astro-signs, along with Seretan and Esed. (The Ottomans could learn the exact dates of these lunar periods from the Gurrename...)

Ottomans believed that persons born under this sign made good husbands/wives for those born under the sign of Cedî (Oğlak, Capricorn). Further, those born in the last days of August were often bashful thinkers who enjoyed solitude; were careful with money and not easily fooled. Those born in the first 10 days of September were good tempered and smart -- who heeded their consciences in the pursuit of justice. But, persons born after that tended to be unlucky and unhealthy.

See burçlar for complete list of Osmanlı (Ottoman), Modern Turkish, and English astrological signs.
Click to see sample Turkish astrological predictions...
SüveyşSuez -- the Egyptian port city located at the northern end of the Gulf of Suez (itself an extension of the Red Sea). It is the southern entry point to the Suez Canal.Suez, a hub of trade since antiquity, was the location of the Greek town of Clysma -- later the Muslim town of Kolsum in the 7th century AD.66
After Ottoman Sultan Selim I conquered Egypt in the 16th Century, Suez developed as a naval station. Piri Reis (1465-1554), the naval war hero and map-maker who assisted Selim's conquest, was a proponent of a canal from Suez through to the Mediterranean Sea at that time. In the age of Süleyman the Magnificent, his Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Paşa was an even more ardent supporter of such a waterway. But, the port later declined until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
Süveyş Kanal

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The Suez Canal...66

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Opera by the Canal -- November 1869...82
The Suez Canal -- built during the time of the Ottoman sultans Abdülmecid I and Abdülazziz.
The canal (that travels through the heart of modern-day Egypt) between Suez city in the south and Port Said in the north -- was finally completed (with an Ottoman 'concession') under French direction in 1869. The first 'modern' survey (to construct a canal across the isthmus) was made during the [short] French occupation of Egypt in 1798-1801. At that time, Napoleon Bonaparte personally investigated the remains of the ancient canal. In 1854, Ferdinand de Lesseps received an Act of Concession from the Ottoman Vali of Egypt, Said Pasha, to construct a canal. Construction began in 1859 and took 10 years instead of the 6 that had been envisaged; climatic difficulties, a cholera epidemic, and early labour troubles all slowed down operations.66
Chronology -- A 4,000 year history
1850 BC An irrigation channel navigable at flood period constructed into the Wadi Tumelat (at-Tumaylat). 609 BC Firavun II (under orders from Neko) opened a canal between the Bitter Lakes and the Red Sea. 285-246 BC Channel between Bitter Lakes and Red Sea improved by Egyptian King Ptolemy II Philadelphus -- and connected to a former branch of the Nile river. 96-117 AD Canal extended under the Romans (who called it Trajan's Canal). 642-645 AD Arabs under Amr bin As capture the territory and reopen the canal (which had fallen into misused ruin). AD 775 Canal deliberately filled in by Abbasid caliphs for military reasons. 1798-1801 First 'modern' survey made across the isthmus, by Napoleon Bonaparte's engineer, J.M. Le Père. 1834 and 1846 More studies for a canal were made. 1854 Ferdinand de Lesseps received an Act of Concession from Vali Said Pasha, to construct a canal. 1856 A second act conferred on Suez Canal Company (Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez) giving right to operate canal for 99 years after completion of work. 1859 Construction began. 1863 Regular drinking water supply finally provided. 1865 Cholera epidemic. August 1869 Canal complete, opening celebrated in November.
The canal was dug by slave labor initially. Peasants used their hands (with the aid of picks and baskets), in those early days. In time, after forced laborers proved ineffective, they were replaced by paid European workers. And when 'dry excavation' proved burdensome (and time consuming) -- someone suggested the idea of flooding the land artificially and of using dredges and mechanical steam shovels to excavate. But even with the increased productivity, the waterway wasn't completed until August 1869. Finally, in November of that year, it was opened officially -- with great fanfare, including an operatic performance...
Bare facts: "The canal extends 101 miles (163 kilometres) between Port Said (Bur Sa'id) in the north and Suez in the south, with dredged approach channels north of Port Said into the Mediterranean, and south of Suez. The canal does not take the shortest route across the isthmus, which is only 75 miles, but utilizes several lakes, from north to south, Lake Manzala (Buhayrat al-Manzilah), Lake Timsah (Buhayrat at-Timsah), and the Bitter Lakes: Great Bitter Lake (Al-Buhayrah al-Murrah al-Kubra) and Little Bitter Lake (Al-Buhayrah al-Murrah as-Sughra). The Suez Canal is an open cut, without locks, and, though extensive straight lengths occur, there are eight major bends."66
Suez, The Isthmus of

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An out-zoom showing the isthmus
(See close-up at Suez Canal...)

The narrow strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Red Seas, connecting Egypt and Africa to the Sinai peninsula and Asia. The port city of Suez lies in the south -- and Port Said in the north. The isthmus is traversed by the Suez Canal.84  

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