Silk Road Trade & Travel Encyclopedia

Interesting Facts & Trivia

39 - QUESTION:  After Constantinople (Istanbul) was conquered in 1453, which Empire served as a bridge between the Orient and Occident for 600 years?

Answer:  Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire served as a bridge for East-West interaction for 6 centuries. The Ottoman Empire contained immense amounts of cultural diversity. Ottoman lands now include parts or all of the following: southeast Hungary, Albania, the six republics that were pre-1991 Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, southern and Caucasian Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. The sheer size of the Ottoman Empire, together with the strategic location of Istanbul, placed it on the crossroad between Europe, Africa and Asia, and thus built an empire on many different cultures which were encompassed by the Ottomans. The Ottoman Empire was known for its tolerance of ethnic and religious diversity. It used a unique system to rule non-Islamic territories called the "Millet system." Non-Muslim subjects were not pressured to convert. On the contrary, they were left to practice their religion, and had their personal safety guaranteed as they functioned as an autonomous community. Although non-Islamic areas could govern themselves while still having all of the benefits of being part of the Ottoman Empire, the inhabitants of these "Millets" were required to pay taxes to the Ottoman Empire.

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