Tophane-i Amire is one of the first buildings in connection with the war industry of the Ottomans who were unable to found a manufacturing industry over centuries.
Mehmet the Conqueror, who was aware of the significance of the role of the canons in the conquest of Istanbul in the formation phases of the universal empire he planned to establish, had the Tophane built outside the walls of Galata at the entrance to the Bosphorus.
Although the initial is not known in detail, Ottoman sources cite that comprehensive additions made necessary by the military order and technology were made until Sultan Abdülaziz’s reign and there have been continuous repairs and renovations as a result of fires. After the former Artillery School and Tophane Müşirliği (Field Marshalship of Tophane) were demolished during the 1956 reconstruction efforts, beside the main building only another structure with lanterns and a dome and the walls which are the remnants of old buildings which serve as the traces of historical development have remained today.
The main building is the most lavish structure of the Ottomans outside those in the complexes in Istanbul. There are honeycomb shaped small hexagonal windows within a cut stone wall texture on top of the stone brick walls approximately 20 m high. On the roof, there is a cradle vault cover of fives in two rows at the front and the back with two lanterns each on top and in the middle are five large domes with lanterns rising on round windowed drums in the middle.
The location of Tophane-i Amire in the city has introduced a plain contribution and an original dimension to the Ottoman urban aesthetics.
The interior is one of the best examples of to what scale plainness can transform into monumentality: Domes and cradle walls with non-plastered brick textures borne by two rows of five cut stones, square sectioned large pedestals in the middle… And stands of light which come from the very top and also the sides… All of these were actually built so that light came in and smoke went out.
The main building was restored after the demolishment of 1958 and a row of stores were built along the street. Since its use will never be decided, the building was kept vacant as a “banned zone” for about forty years. In 1998, it has been put into use once again as Mimar Sinan University Culture and Art Center.