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Palestine Under the Ottoman Empire: The Sanjak of Jerusalem

In 1517, the Ottoman Turks expanded their empire to Palestine and retained control until after the First World War. The only exception was the short period of 1832 to 1840 when the Egyptian vassal, Muhammet Ali, led a rebellion and took control of Palestine, Syria, and areas of Asia. The Turks were able to reclaim these territories with the assistance of the British and Russians.

Throughout the period when the Ottoman Turks ruled Palestine, there were continuous tensions as the Palestinians had a very strong sense of their own identity.

Palestine was ruled as a number of separate parts by the Ottoman Turks. For example the Sanjak of Jerusalem was an independent region under Turkish control.

Suleiman the Magnificent, the tenth Osmanli sultan, reined from 1520 to 1566 and was the longest reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire. His leadership brought the Ottoman Empire to its apex of power. As a part of his building efforts, Jerusalem’s walls and gates were rebuilt, the aqueduct was brought into operation, and public drinking fountains were installed. However, after his death there were 300 years of economic and social stagnation in Jerusalem.

Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries Jerusalem was changing with the continuous influx of Jews who were fleeing persecution in places like Spain.

The 19th century saw the weakening of the Ottoman Empire and increasing power of religious institutions, settlers, and merchants. The influx of foreigners brought a modernizing trend that included the development of a postal system and the use of stagecoaches, carriages, carts, and wheelbarrows. The oil lantern was also introduced. By the middle of the 19th century there was a road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, while a railroad was completed in 1892.

Mishkenot Sha'ananim developed around a windmill and building outside Jerusalem. It was the first Jewish settlement outside Jerusalem and demonstrated the growth of the population. It developed with buildings that had a European appearance.

Jerusalem continued to change as the end of the First World War brought the Ottoman Empire to an end.

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