The Turkish Imperial State Barges

By Douglas S. Brookes, published February 1990


From 1453 to 1917, the Ottoman elite sailed the Istanbul waters in magnificent barges. Twenty-nine caiques from five to forty metres long are preserved in the Maritime Museum.  They were opulently decorated with silver, carved mouldings and a canopied kiosk aft.  The harem, admirals, ambassadors and lords all maintained ceremonial caiques. The number of rowers was determined by status.  The barges were used for accessions, funerals, fleet reviews, excursions and war.  Until 1913, the caiques were stored in the Imperial Boathouse at the Topkapi water gate.   Abandoned, the imperial barges survived republicanism.  Restoration was completed in 1970.

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Filed under: High Middle Ages | Early Modern | Mediterranean | Other (Twentieth C) | Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Ocean Liners & Passenger Craft

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