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Imperial Arsenal (Ottoman Empire)

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Title: Imperial Arsenal (Ottoman Empire)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Azap, Croatian–Ottoman wars, History of the Russo-Turkish wars, Golden Horn, Beyoğlu
Collection: Arsenals, Beyoğlu, Golden Horn, Ottoman Navy, Shipyards of Turkey
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Imperial Arsenal (Ottoman Empire)

Tersâne-i Âmire was the Ottoman imperial shipyard, on the Golden Horn in Constantinople (Modern Istanbul).


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
  • Operations 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The modern Haliç Tersaneleri in 2013

The word "Tersane" is derived from the Arabic "dar al Sina’a" - as is the Italian "Arsenale".[1]


The shipyard was founded on the Golden Horn in 1453, after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, and initially called the Galata Shipyard. In combination with other institutions such as the imperial arsenal (Tophane-i Amire), the Tersâne-i Âmire may have given the Ottoman Empire one of the greatest military industries of early-modern Europe; comparable to the Arsenal of Venice.[2] In the 16th century it became known as the Tersâne-i Âmire and was greatly expanded, with 140 docks and a perimeter wall to keep prying eyes away from naval secrets; it took over from the main shipyard at Gallipoli. From this time on, the Tersâne-i Âmire was at the heart of shipbuilding and naval governance in the Ottoman Empire.[3]

However, the shipyard suffered ups and downs with the rest of the empire. There were reforms and expansions after the Battle of Lepanto in 1571; in 1601 the shipyard had 3524 employees but this steadily fell to 726 in 1700; during this period an increasing amount of work was done by other shipyards.[1] In the 18th century, corruption and decay led to the Ottoman navy being equipped with badly designed, leaky ships which were hard to sail; this led to overwhelming defeat at the Battle of Chesme in 1770. A new Kapudan Pasha (Grand Admiral) was appointed, Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha (who later became Grand Vizier); he made sweeping reforms.[4]

By the reign of Abdülmecid I (r. 1839–1861), the Tersane-i Amire had fallen into neglect and underinvestment; Abdülmecid started a massive investment programme which modernised not just the Tersane-i Amire but also shipyards in Izmit and Gemlik.[5]

Today the installations continue operations under the name of Haliç Tersaneleri (The Shipyards of Haliç or "Golden Horn"). These shipyards are three separate installations: The shipyards "Haliç", "Camialtı" and "Taşkızak".


The shipyard was directed by an emin; the Tersane Emini.[6]

Directors were typically assigned for two years, and were well paid, at 5000 akçes. The secretary of the shipyard - the head of the accounting department - was also responsible to the defterdar (a senior treasury officer). Records were kept in the merdiban system. Special accounts were kept for wood (vital in all aspects of shipbuilding) and also for slaves and convicts (who were treated as a resource; either working in the shipyard or oarsmen on the ships).[1]

The shipyard built and fitted out ships - everything from sails to beds to kitchen equipment - but armaments were produced by other organisations outside the shipyard. The shipyard even had its own accommodation and mosque.

Many materials were bought in from other parts of the empire; rope from Egypt, pitch from Thrace, ironmongery from Bulgaria.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Toraman, Güvemli, Bayramoglu (2010). "Imperial shipyard (Tersane-i amire) in the Ottoman Empire in 17th century: management and accounting". Revista Española de Historia de la Contabilidad (13). 
  2. ^ Goody. The Theft of History.  
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Infobase Publishing. 2010. p. 559.  
  4. ^ Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1775-1820. Osprey Publishing. 1998. pp. 39–41.  
  5. ^ Shaw & Shaw. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Cambridge University Press. p. 75.  
  6. ^ Mikaberidze (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World. p. 996.  

External links

  • Webpage of the Shipyards of Haliç

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