Citation

A Thermal Spring and Its City: Describing Early Modern Ottoman Sofia

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Abstract:

Most theories of urban development take the stronghold, the temple, and the market as the basic markers of pre-industrial urban settlements. Sofia, one of the important urban agglomerations in the Balkans, was an exception to this rule. From pre-historic times, the center of the settlement was designated by a thermal spring that exercised its influence on the development of the city most perceptibly on a spatial and symbolic level. During the Ottoman period of Sofia’s history the area of the thermal spring functioned as the spatial focus of urban development and the hub of a vibrant urban culture.

Situated on the Via Militaris, the old road connecting Central Europe with Asia Minor, Sofia was a major station for travelers in the Ottoman Balkans. The abundance of thermal waters in the Sofia region, heavily embedded in the local toponymy, was reflected in travelers’ diaries. The descriptions of the city itself were dominated by references to its hot spring and lengthy accounts of the thermal baths. The focus of this paper is the narrative of an insider: Evliya Çelebi, the quintessential Ottoman traveler, spent two years in Sofia, 1652-53. Evliya’s description of Sofia is a vivid illustration of nature’s dominance over space and place. On the pages of the Seyahatname (Book of Travels), water stands out as the key to reading the city and its built fabric, and as a major identifier for the local urban community. Evliya provides abundant detail on the healing qualities of the thermal waters and the numerous ways in which they were related to local customs, beliefs, and taboos, concerning matters from handicrafts to funeral rites. Rich in water institutions and practices, Ottoman Sofia provides a good terrain for a study of the deep relationship between urban culture and the natural environment.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171045_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Peychev, Stefan. "A Thermal Spring and Its City: Describing Early Modern Ottoman Sofia" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, Mar 29, 2017 <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171045_index.html>

APA Citation:

Peychev, S. , 2017-03-29 "A Thermal Spring and Its City: Describing Early Modern Ottoman Sofia" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171045_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Most theories of urban development take the stronghold, the temple, and the market as the basic markers of pre-industrial urban settlements. Sofia, one of the important urban agglomerations in the Balkans, was an exception to this rule. From pre-historic times, the center of the settlement was designated by a thermal spring that exercised its influence on the development of the city most perceptibly on a spatial and symbolic level. During the Ottoman period of Sofia’s history the area of the thermal spring functioned as the spatial focus of urban development and the hub of a vibrant urban culture.

Situated on the Via Militaris, the old road connecting Central Europe with Asia Minor, Sofia was a major station for travelers in the Ottoman Balkans. The abundance of thermal waters in the Sofia region, heavily embedded in the local toponymy, was reflected in travelers’ diaries. The descriptions of the city itself were dominated by references to its hot spring and lengthy accounts of the thermal baths. The focus of this paper is the narrative of an insider: Evliya Çelebi, the quintessential Ottoman traveler, spent two years in Sofia, 1652-53. Evliya’s description of Sofia is a vivid illustration of nature’s dominance over space and place. On the pages of the Seyahatname (Book of Travels), water stands out as the key to reading the city and its built fabric, and as a major identifier for the local urban community. Evliya provides abundant detail on the healing qualities of the thermal waters and the numerous ways in which they were related to local customs, beliefs, and taboos, concerning matters from handicrafts to funeral rites. Rich in water institutions and practices, Ottoman Sofia provides a good terrain for a study of the deep relationship between urban culture and the natural environment.


 
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