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Islamic empires

The Ottoman sultans lived in magnificent luxury in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, the capital of their vast empire. After the collapse of Mongol rule over Islamic lands in central and western Asia in the 14th and 15th centuries, three new Islamic empires grew to prominence: the Ottoman Empire in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), the Safavid Empire in Persia (modern-day Iran) and the Mughal Empire in India. At their height, these three empires covered most of the Islamic world, from North Africa, through the Middle East to the southern tip of India.



The Ottomans capture Constantinople in 1453

The rise of the Ottomans

The Ottoman Turks originally settled in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) in the late 1200s. Having gained control of Anatolia, they turned their attention to Europe. In 1354, they invaded the Balkans, finally capturing Constantinople, capital of the once-mighty Byzantine Empire in 1453. Ottoman armies were held at Belgrade in 1456 but returned to defeat the Hungarians at Mohacs in 1526. In 1529, and again in 1683, the Ottomans reached the gates of Vienna, but failed to capture the city. By now their vast empire stretched from North Africa to the Persian Gulf, and from Arabia to Central Europe. The Ottomans posed a constant threat to neighbouring lands until their power began to wane in the 18th century.

The first mechanical alarm clock was probably invented by Ottoman engineer Taqi al-Din in 1556.

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