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When “The Land of Filibe Became Egypt and Meriç Turned Into Nile”: Governance, Architectural Patronage, and Water Management of the Mid-fifteenth-Century Plovdiv

Thursday, December 9, 2021, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

This event is part of the Urban Governance and Civic Participation in Words and Stone Lecture Series.

The lecture focuses on the spatial and architectural transformation of Plovdiv (Ott. Filibe and Byz. Philippololis), the principal city of Central Bulgaria, during the first century of Ottoman rule over the town. By building a spatially referenced data model, based on cadastral, statistical, and visual data, the lecture seeks to present a diachronic analysis of the adaptation of the urban tissue and the gradual transformation of urban morphology. It also argues that the modification of the Byzantine/Bulgarian city went through a spatial shift of the urban core away from the Late Antique and Medieval city and redefining of the principal axes and secondary street pattern.

The dominant theme examined in the lecture is the architectural patronage of the princely dynasty of the Isfendiyarids from Anatolia, deported to Plovdiv in the second half of the fifteenth century after the Ottomans conquered their Northern Black Sea-coast principality. Paying particular attention to water-related infrastructure built by the family in Plovdiv, the lecture elaborates on the significance of the availability of running fresh water in Islamicized cities in the Balkans. Bringing cities of similar scale (Sofia, Skopje) into close comparative interaction, the lecture argues that patronage over water supply systems and the related public buildings was essential for claiming legitimacy for governance and display of a permanent intention for rulership over the Islamicized towns in the Balkans.

Please note that registration is required to attend this online lecture. Please register here.

About the speaker

Grigor BoykovGrigor Boykov (PhD in Ottoman history, 2013) is a researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Previously he taught at the University of Sofia and was a visiting professor at the Central European University in Budapest (2015-2016). His research focuses on Ottoman urbanism, architectural patronage, population geography, and Islamic charitable endowments in the Ottoman Balkans. Boykov’s monograph, entitled Ottoman Plovdiv: Space, Architecture, and Population (14th-17th c.), is forthcoming with the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Image on cover: 15th-century Ottoman public bath in Plovdiv (photo: G. Boykov, 2010)