This article investigates the ways in which the Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi perceived and represented the various political powers and cultural heritages in the Mediterranean, through a reading of his seventeenth-century travelogue, Seyahatname. I argue that Evliya’s text reveals the palimpsest of political power and cultural hegemony extant in the Mediterranean of his time and attempts to legitimise Ottoman rule, employing several tropes and narrative threads. For Evliya, the Mediterranean is primarily a battlefield that has witnessed the victories and defeats of the Ottomans throughout their history. Evliya’s Seyahatame, in that sense, is within the tradition of travel writing in the service of imperial meaning-making and meaning-sustaining processes. I call the narrative structure under which Evliya’s observations are gathered the Ottoman Chronotope: a chronotope that highlights the project of sustaining a commonwealth, through ties of commerce and faith. In Evliya’s text the islands become a geography where the Ottomans’ sense of mission and empire is bolstered by ‘old books’ and oral narratives that he claims were popular particularly among the Mediterranean Greek population.