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Tutorial on Topkapı Palace

 

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A Tutorial on Topkapı Palace

 
   

The Topkapı Palace (Turkish: Topkapı Sarayı) is a palace in Istanbul, Turkey, which was the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans, from 1465 to 1853. The palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments and is a major tourist attraction today. The name directly translates as "Cannongate Palace", from the palace being named after a nearby gate.

 

Initial construction started in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. The palace is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At the height of its existence as a royal residence, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, formerly covering a larger area with a long shoreline. The complex has been expanded over the centuries, with many renovations such as for the 1509 earthquake and 1665 fire.

 

Topkapı Palace gradually lost its importance at the end of the 17th century, as the Sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosporus. In 1853, Sultan Abdül Mecid I decided to move the court to the newly built Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in the city. Some functions, such as the imperial treasury, the library, mosque and mint, were retained though.

 

After the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, Topkapı Palace was transformed by government decree on April 3, 1924 into a museum of the imperial era. The Topkapı Palace Museum is under the administration of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public today. The complex is guarded by officials of the ministry as well as armed guards of the Turkish military.

 

The palace is full of examples of Ottoman architecture and also contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, as well as a display of Ottoman treasure and jewelry.

 

   

A Tutorial on Topkapı Palace

 

History

The site

Initial construction

Layout

Function

 

Imperial Gate

 

First Courtyard

Gate of Salutation

 

Second Courtyard

Imperial carriages

Palace kitchens

Porcelain and celadon collection

Imperial Council

Tower of Justice

Armory Exhibition Hall

Gate of Felicity

 

Third Courtyard

Audience Chamber

Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force

Conqueror’s Pavilion

Imperial Treasury

Miniature and Portrait Gallery

Enderûn Library (Library of Ahmed III)

Mosque of the Ağas

Dormitory of the Royal Pages

Privy Chamber

 

Harem

Hall of the Ablution Fountain

Courtyard of the Eunuchs

Passage of Concubines

Courtyard of the Sultan's Consorts and the Concubines

Role of the concubines

Apartments of the Queen Mother

Baths of the Sultan and the Queen Mother

Imperial Hall

Apartment of Sultan Murat III

Twin Kiosk  (Apartments of the Crown Prince)

Golden Road

 

Fourth Courtyard

Circumcision Room

Yerevan Kiosk

Baghdad Kiosk

İftar Pavilion

Imperial Sofa Kiosk

Tower of the Head Physician

Grand Kiosk

Dressing Room

Imperial Sofa Mosque

Konyalı Restaurant

 

Other notable features

Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III

Trees in Topkapi Palace

 

See also

 

   

History

The site

 

The palace complex is located on the Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu), a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, with the Bosphorus in plain sight from many points of the palace. The site is hilly and one of the highest points close to the sea. During Greek and Byzantine times, the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Byzantium stood here. Some of its remains are still visible in the area now known as the Second Courtyard of the palace. There is an underground Byzantine cistern, located in the Second Courtyard, which was used throughout Ottoman times. Remains of a small church on the acropolis have also been excavated in modern times. The nearby Church of Hagia Eirene, though located in the First Courtyard, is not considered a part of the old Byzantine acropolis.

 

 

Initial construction

 

After the Ottoman conquest and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II found the imperial Byzantine Great Palace of Constantinople largely in ruins. The Ottoman court initially set itself up in the Eski Sarayı, today the site of Istanbul University. The Sultan then searched for a better location and chose the old Byzantine acropolis, ordering the construction of a new palace in 1459. It was originally called the New Palace (Yeni Sarayı) to distinguish it from the previous residence. It received the name "Topkapı" in the 19th century, after a (now destroyed) Topkapı shore pavilion.

 

 

Layout

 

The palace is an extensive complex with an assortment of various buildings constructed around courtyards, interconnected with galleries and passages, rather than a single monolithic structure. Interspersed are trees, gardens and water fountains, to give a refreshing feeling to the inhabitants and provide places where they could repose. The palace compound when seen from a birds-eye view has the shape of a rough rectangle, divided into four main courtyards and the harem. The main axis is from south to north, the outermost (first) courtyard starting at the south with each successive courtyard leading up north. The first courtyard was the one that was most accessible, while the innermost (fourth) courtyard and the harem were the most inaccessible, being the sole private domain of the sultan. Access to these courtyards was restricted by high walls and controlled through gates. Apart from the four main courtyards, various other mid-sized to small courtyards exist throughout the complex. The buildings enclosed the courtyards, and life revolved around them. Doors and windows faced towards the courtyard, in order to create an open atmosphere for the inhabitants as well as provide for cool air during hot summers.

 

Sultan Mehmed II established the basic layout of the palace. This basic layout governed the pattern of future renovations and extensions. He summoned experienced craftsmen, especially former inhabitants of Constantinople who had fled to Edirne and Bursa after the fall of the city. He used the most expensive and rare materials of that time, trying to restore the city its former glory. The palace was completed in 1465. Contrary to other royal residences which had strict master plans, such as Schönbrunn Palace or the Palace of Versailles, Topkapı Palace developed over the course of centuries, with various sultans adding and changing various structures and elements. The resulting asymmetry is the result of this erratic growth and change over time.

 

 

On the southern and western sides borders the large former imperial flower park, today Gülhane Park. Surrounding the palace compound on the southern and eastern side is the Sea of Marmara. Various related buildings such as small summer palaces (kasrı), pavilions, kiosks (köşkü) and other structures for royal pleasures and functions formerly existed, at the shore, but have since disappeared over the course of time due to neglect and the construction of the shoreline railroad in the 19th century. However, the last remaining structure of the outer limits that still exists today is Sepetçiler Palace, constructed in 1592 by Sultan Murad III. Thus the total area size of Topkapı Palace was in fact much larger than what it appears today.

 

 

Function

 

Topkapı Palace was the main residence of the sultan and his court. It was initially the seat of government as well as the imperial residence. Even though access was strictly regulated, inhabitants of the palace rarely had to venture out since the palace functioned almost as an autonomous entity, a city within a city. Audience and consultation chambers and areas served for the political workings of the empire. For the residents and visitors, the palace had its own water supply through underground cisterns and the great kitchens provided for nourishment on a daily basis. Dormitories, gardens, libraries, schools, even mosques were at the service of the court.

 

 

Imperial Gate

 

The main gate is called the Imperial Gate (Arabi: Bâb-ı Hümâyûn or Greek: Porta Augusta), also known as Gate of the Sultan (Turkish: Saltanat Kapısı) located to the south. This massive gate, originally dating from 1478, is now covered in 19th-century marble. The massiveness of this stone gate accentuates its defensive character. Its central arch leads to a high-domed passage. Gilded Ottoman calligraphy adorns the structure at the top, with verses from the Holy Koran and tughras of the sultans. Identified tughras are of Sultan Mehmed II and Abdül Aziz I, who renovated the gate. On each side of the hall are rooms for the guard. The gate was open from morning prayer until the last evening prayer. No one apart from viziers and foreign dignitaries was allowed passage through the gate.

 

According to old documents, there was a wooden apartment above the gate area until the second half of the 19th century. It was used first as a pavilion by Mehmed, later as a depository for the properties of those who died inside the palace without heirs and eventually as the receiving department of the treasury. It was also used as a vantage point for the ladies of the harem on special occasions.

 

The Imperial Gate is the main entrance into the First Courtyard.

 

 

First Courtyard

 

The First Courtyard (I. Avlu or Alay Meydanı) spans Seraglio Point and is surrounded by high walls.

 

In 1509 a massive earthquake destroyed these walls from the water's edge to the garden gate. They required extensive renovation. This First Courtyard functioned as an outer precinct or park. The steep slopes had already been terraced under Byzantine rule.

 

This court was also known as the Court of the Janissaries or the Parade Court.

 

The First Courtyard contains the former Imperial Mint (Darphane-i Âmire, constructed in 1727), the church of Hagia Eirene, the Istanbul Archaeology Museum (constructed during the 19th century) and various fountains, pavilions (for example, the Çinili Pavilion, or Tiled Pavilion) and gardens (including Gülhane Park, the old imperial rose garden).

 

The Çinili Pavilion is set within the outer walls and dates from 1473. It was built by Mehmed II as a pleasure palace.

 

The exterior glazed bricks show a Central Asian influence, especially from the Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Samarkand. The square, axial plan represents the four corners of the world and symbolizes, in architectural terms, the universal authority and sovereignty of the Sultan. As there is no Byzantine influence, the building is ascribed to an unknown Persian architect. The stone-framed brick and the polygonal pillars of the façade are typical of Persia. A grilled gate leads to the basement. Two flights of stairs above this gate lead to a roofed colonnaded terrace. This portico was rebuilt in the 18th century. The great door in the middle, surrounded by a tiled green arch, leads to the vestibule and then to a loftily domed court. The three royal apartments are situated behind, with the middle apartment in apsidal form.

 

These apartments look out over the park to the Bosphorus. The network of ribbed vaulting suggests Gothic revival architecture, but it actually adds weight to the structure instead of sustaining it. The blue-and-white tiles on the wall are arranged in hexagons and triangles in the Bursa manner. Some show delicate patterns of flowers, leaves, clouds or other abstract forms. The white plasterwork is in the Persian manner. On both wings of the domed court are eyvans, vaulted recesses open on one side. The pavilion contains many examples of İznik tiles and Seljuk pottery and now houses the Museum of Islamic Art.

 

The Fountain of the Executioner is where the executioner washed his hands and sword after a decapitation. It is located on the right side in front of the Gate of Salutation.

 

 

Gate of Salutation

 

The large Gate of Salutation (Arabic: Bâb-üs Selâm), also known as the Middle Gate (Turkish: Orta Kapı), leads into the palace and the Second Courtyard. This crenelated gate has two large octagonal pointed towers. The date of construction of this gate is not clear, since the architecture of the towers is of Byzantine influence rather than Ottoman. An inscription at the door dates this gate to at least 1542 during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II. In a miniature painting from the Hünername from 1584, a low-roofed structure with three windows above the arch between the towers is clearly visible, probably a guards' hall that has since disappeared. Only the sultan was allowed to pass this gate on horseback. The gate is richly decorated on both sides and in the upper part with religious inscriptions and monograms of sultans.

 

 

Second Courtyard

 

The Second Courtyard (II. Avlu), or Divan Square (Divan Meydanı) was a park full of peacocks and gazelles, used as a gathering place for courtiers. Only the Sultan was allowed to ride on the black pebbled walks.

 

This courtyard is surrounded by the former palace hospital, bakery, Janissary quarters, stables, the imperial Harem and Divan to the north and the kitchens to the south. Numerous artifacts from the Roman and Byzantine periods have been found on the palace site during recent excavations. These include sarcophagi, baptismal fonts, parapet slabs and pillars and capitals. They are on display in the Second Courtyard in front of the imperial kitchens.

 

Located underneath the Second Courtyard is a cistern that dates to Byzantine times. It is normally closed to the public.

 

 

Imperial carriages

 

Directly behind the Gate of Salutation, on the northeast side, the imperial carriages are exhibited in the former outer stables and harness rooms. This is a relatively low building, altered in 1735 when a new ceiling was installed. Its roof is one of the few undomed roofs to retain its 15th century shape. Many carriages were destroyed in a fire in the previous stables in the late 19th century. The carriages on display are some of the sultan's carriages including the state carriage, the carriage of the Valide Sultan (Queen Mother), and minor court carriages. Some of the carriages were foreign made vehicles that were imported for the court. Located next to the carriages to the north are the extensive palace kitchens.

 

 

Palace kitchens

 

Blue-and-white Chinese porcelain-ware from the porcelain collection in the palace kitchensThe elongated palace kitchens (Saray Mutfakları) are a prominent feature of the palace. Some of the kitchens were first built in the 15th century at the time when the palace was constructed. They were modeled on the kitchens of the Sultan's palace at Edirne. They were enlarged during the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent but burned down in 1574. The kitchens were remodeled and brought up to date according to the needs of the day by the court architect Mimar Sinan.

 

Rebuilt to the old plan by Sinan, they form two rows of twenty wide chimneys (added by Sinan), rising like stacks from a ship from domes on octagonal drums. The kitchens are arranged on an internal street stretching between the Second Courtyard and the Sea of Marmara. The entrance to this section is through the three doors in the portico of the Second Courtyard: the Imperial commissariat (lower kitchen) door, imperial kitchen door and the confectionery kitchen door.

 

The palace kitchens consist of ten domed buildings: Imperial kitchen, Enderûn (palace school), Harem (women’s quarters), Birûn (out service section of the palace), kitchens, beverages kitchen, confectionery kitchen, creamery, storerooms and rooms for the cooks. They were the largest kitchens in the Ottoman empire. The meals for the Sultan, the residents of the Harem, Enderûn and Birûn (the inner and outer services of the palace) were prepared here. Food was prepared for about 4,000 people. The kitchen staff consisted of more than 800 people, rising to 1,000 on religious holidays. As many as 6,000 meals a day could be prepared.

 

 

Porcelain and celadon collection

 

Apart from exhibiting the kitchen utensils, today the buildings contain the world's third largest collections of Chinese blue-and-white, white, and celadon porcelain. Chinese and Far East porcelain was highly valued and was transported by camel caravans over the Silk Road or by sea. The 10,700 pieces of Chinese, Japanese and Turkish porcelain displayed here are rare and precious. The Chinese porcelain collection ranges from the late Song Dynasty (13th c.) and the Yuan Dynasty (1280–1368), through the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) to the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912). This museum also contains one of the world's largest collections of 14th-century Longquan celadon. The collection has around 3,000 pieces of Yuan and Ming Dynasty celadons. Those celadon were valued by the Sultan and the Queen Mother because it was supposed to change colour if the food or drink it carried was poisoned. The Japanese collection is mainly Imari porcelain, dating from the 17th to the 19th century. Further parts of the collection include white porcelain from the beginning of the 15th century and "imitation" Blue-and-White and Imari porcelain from Annam, Thailand and Persia.

 

 

Imperial Council

 

The Imperial Council (Divan-i Hümâyûn) building is where the Divan, the Imperial Council, consisting of the Grand Vizier (Paşa Kapısı), viziers, and other leading officials of the Ottoman state, held meetings. It is also called Kubbealtı, which means "under the dome", in reference to the dome in the council main hall. It is situated in the northwestern corner of the courtyard next to the Gate of Felicity. It was constructed in the 15th century by the architect-in-chief Alseddin, by the order of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. This place lost its importance after the 18th century, when the Grand Viziers had started to run the affairs of state independently. At this time, important state issues were transferred to the Sublime Porte (Bâb-ı Âli) of the Grand Viziers.

 

The council hall has multiple entrances both from inside the palace and from the courtyard. The porch consists of multiple marble and porphyry pillars, with an ornate green and white-coloured wooden ceiling decorated with gold. The floor is covered in marble. The entrances into the hall from outside are in the rococo style, with gilded grills to admit natural light. While the pillars are earlier Ottoman style, the wall paintings and decorations are from the later rococo period. Inside, the Imperial Council building consists of three adjoining main rooms. Two of the three domed chambers of this building open into the porch and the courtyard. The Divanhane, built with a wooden portico at the corner of the Divan Court ("Divan Meydani") in the 15th century, was later used as the mosque of the council but was removed in 1916. There are 3 domed chambers:

 

  1. The first chamber where the Imperial Council held its deliberations is the Kubbealtı.
  2. The second chamber was occupied by the secretarial staff of the Imperial Divan.
  3. In the adjacent third chamber called Deferhane, records were kept by the head clerks. The last room also served as an archive in which documents were kept.

 

The Kubbealti, which suffered damage during the Great Harem Fire of 1665, was restored by the order of Sultan Mehmed IV. On its façade are verse inscriptions which mention the restoration work carried out in 1792 and 1819, namely under Sultan Selim III and Mahmud II. The rococo decorations on the façade and inside the Imperial Council date from this period.

 

In the Imperial Council meetings the political, administrative and religious affairs of the state and important concerns of the citizens were discussed. The Imperial Council normally met four times a week. The meetings of the Imperial Council were run according to an elaborate and strict protocol. The council members, the Grand Vizier, the viziers, and the Chief Military Judges of Anatolia and Rumelia met here to discuss the affairs of the state and submitted their resolutions to the Sultan. They also held court hearings. Sometimes the Grand Müfti (Sheikh al-İslam) also took part in important meetings. The other officials of the Council were the Nişanci (officers whose duty it was to inscribe the Sultan’s imperial monogram on imperial letters) and the Minister of Finance (Defterdar), the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Reis-ül-Küttab), the officials charged with the duty of writing official memoranda (Tezkereciler), and the clerks recording the resolutions.

 

It was also here that the Grand Vizier received ambassadors and wedding ceremonies of the Sultan’s daughters were held.

 

The fountain in the middle of the room, when running, enabled secret conversations to be held. From the window with the golden grill the Sultan or the Valide Sultan was able to follow deliberations of the council without being noticed. The window could be reached by the adjacent Tower of Justice (Adalet Kulesi).

 

 

Tower of Justice

 

The Tower of Justice (Adalet Kulesi) is located in-between the Imperial Council and the Harem. The tower is several stories high and the tallest structure in the palace, clearly visible from the Bosphorus. Sultan Mahmud II rebuilt the lantern of the tower in 1825 while retaining the Ottoman base (attributed to Mehmed II). The tall windows with engaged columns and the Renaissance pediments evoke the Palladian style (see larger view: Image:Courtyard Topkapi Palace.jpg).

 

 

Armory Exhibition Hall

 

The present Armory Exhibition Hall (Silah Seksiyonu Sergi Salonu) was formerly the inner treasury of the Ottoman Empire. It is a hall built of stone and brick with eight domes, each 5 x 11.40 m. It was transformed into a museum in 1928, displaying a rich collection of about 400 weapons (dating between the 7th and the 19th c.) from several countries, including swords of many Sultans. The collection shows the sword of Sultan Mehmed II. It also includes samurai armor, a present from Japan to the Sultan. During excavations in 1937 in front of this building, remains of a religious Byzantine building dating from the fifth century were found. Since it could not be identified with any of the churches known to have been built on the palace site, it is now known as "the Basilica of the Topkapı Palace".

 

 

Gate of Felicity

 

The Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde or Bab-üs Saadet) was originally constructed in the 15th century.

 

This monumental gate is the entrance into the Inner Court (Enderûn), also known as the Third Courtyard, comprising of the strictly private and residential areas of the palace. It represents the presence of the Sultan in the palace. No one could pass this gate without the authority of the Sultan. Even the Grand Vizier was only granted authorisation on specified days and under specified conditions.

 

It was redecorated in the rococo style in 1774 under Sultan Mustafa III and during the reign of Mahmud II.

 

The Sultan used this gate and the Divan Meydanı square only on special ceremonies. The Sultan sat before the gate on his Bayram throne on religious, festive days and accession when the subjects and officials perform their homage standing. The funerals of the Sultan were also conducted in front of the gate.

 

On either side of this passage under control of the Chief Eunuch of the Sultan’s Harem (called the Bâbüssaâde Ağası) and the staff under him were the quarters of the eunuchs as well as the small and large rooms of the palace school.

 

The small, indented stone on the ground in front of the gate marks the place where the banner of the Prophet Muhammad was unfurled. The Grand Vizier or the commander going to war was entrusted with this banner in a solemn ceremony.

 

 

Third Courtyard

 

Beyond the Gate of Felicity is the Third Courtyard (III. Avlu), also called the Inner Palace (Enderûn Avlusu), which is the heart of the palace, where the Sultan spent his days outside the harem. It is a lush garden surrounded by the Hall of the Privy Chamber (Has Oda) occupied by the palace officials, the treasury (which contains some of the most important treasures of the Ottoman age, including the Sacred Trusts), the Harem and some pavilions, with the library of Ahmed III in the center.

 

The Third Courtyard is surrounded by the quarters of the Ağas (pages), boys in the service of the sultan. They were taught the Arts, such as music, painting and calligraphy. The best could become Has Odali Ağa (Keepers of the Holy Relics of the Prophet and personal servants of the Sultan), or even become officers or high-ranking officials.

 

 

Audience Chamber

 

The Audience Chamber, also known as Audience Hall or Chamber of Petitions (Arz Odası) is located right behind the Gate of Felicity. It is an old building, dating from the 15th century, renovated in 1723 by Sultan Ahmed III and rebuilt in its present form after it was destroyed by fire in 1856. This square building is surrounded by a colonnade of 22 columns, supporting the large roof. The Sultan, sitting on his gilded throne, covered with embroidery and encrusted with gems and pearls, received here the Grand Vizier and the Council members, who presented their resolutions for ratification, high-ranking officials and foreign ambassadors. There is a small fountain at the entrance, used to prevent others from overhearing secret conversations in this room. Behind the Audience Chamber on the eastern side is the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force.

 

 

Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force

 

The Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force (Seferli Koğuşu) houses the Imperial Wardrobe Collection (Padişhah Elbiseleri Koleksiyonu) with a valuable costume collection of about 2,500 garments, the majority precious kaftans of the Sultans. It also houses a collection of 360 ceramic objects.

 

The dormitory was constructed under Sultan Murad IV in 1635. The building was restored by Sultan Ahmed III in the early 18th century. The dormitory is vaulted and is supported by 14 columns. Adjacent to the dormitory, located northeast is the Conqueror's Pavilion.

 

 

Conqueror’s Pavilion

 

The Conqueror’s Pavilion, also called the Conqueror's Kiosk (Fatih Köşkü) and the arcade of the pavilion in front is one of the pavilions built under Sultan Mehmed II and one of the oldest buildings inside the palace. It was built circa in 1460, when the palace was first constructed, and was also used to store works of art and treasure. It houses the Imperial Treasury (Hazine-i Âmire).

 

The pavilion originally consisted of three rooms, a terrace overlooking the Sea of Marmara, a basement and adjoining hamam, or Turkish bath. It consists of two floors raised on a terrace above the garden, built at the top of promontory on a cliff with a magnificent view from its porch on the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus. The lower floor consisted of service rooms, while the upper floor was a suite of four apartments and a large loggia with double arches. The first two rooms are covered with a dome of considerable height. All the rooms open onto the Third Courtyard through a monumental arcade. The colonnaded portico on the side of the garden is connected to each of the four halls by a door of imposing height. The capitals of the imposing capitals are shrunken Ionic in form and date probably from the 18th century. The pavilion was used as the treasury for the revenues from Egypt under Sultan Selim I. Before this period, under Mehmed II and Bayezid II, these apartments must have been the most agreeable rooms in the palace. During excavations in the basement, a small Byzantine baptistery built along a trefoil plan was found.

 

 

Imperial Treasury

 

The Imperial Treasury is a vast collection of works of art, jewelry, heirlooms of sentimental value and money belonging to the Ottoman dynasty. Since the palace became a museum, the same rooms have been used to exhibit these treasures. Most of the objects in the Imperial Treasury consisted of gifts, spoils of war, or pieces produced by palace craftsmen. The Chief Treasurer (Hazinedarbaşı) was responsible for the Imperial Treasury. Upon their accession to the throne, it was customary for the sultans to pay a ceremonial visit to the Treasury.

 

The objects exhibited in the Imperial Treasury today are a representative selection of its contents, which mainly consist of jeweled objects made of gold and other precious materials. Among the many treasuries that are on exhibition in four adjoining rooms, the first room houses one the armours of Sultan Mustafa III, consisting of an iron coat of mail decorated with gold and encrusted with jewels, his gilded sword and shield and gilded stirrups. The next display shows several Holy Koran covers belonging to the sultans, decorated with pearls. The ebony throne of Murad IV is inlaid with nacre and ivory. The golden Indian music box, with a gilded elephant on top, dates from the 17th century. In other cabinets are looking glasses decorated with rare gems, precious stones, emeralds and cut diamonds.

 

The second room houses the Topkapı Dagger. The golden hilt is ornamented with three large emeralds, topped by a golden watch with an emerald lid. The golden sheath is covered with diamonds and enamel. In 1747, the Sultan Mahmud I had this dagger made for Nadir Shah of Persia, but the Shah was assassinated before the emissary had left the Ottoman Empire's boundaries and so the Sultan retained it. This dagger was the subject of the film Topkapi. In the middle of the second room stands the walnut throne of Ahmed I, inlaid with nacre and tortoise shell, built by Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa. Below the baldachin hangs a golden pendant with a large emerald. The next displays show the ostentatious aigrettes of the sultans and their horses, studded with diamonds, emeralds and rubies. A jade bowl, shaped like a vessel, was a present of the Czar Nicholas II of Russia.

 

The most eye-catching jewel in the third room is the Spoonmaker's Diamond, set in silver and surrounded in two ranks with 49 cut diamonds. Legend has it, that this diamond was bought by a vizier in a bazaar, the owner thinking it was a worthless piece of crystal. Amongst the exhibits are two large golden candleholders, weighing each 48 kg and mounted with 6666 cut diamonds, a present of Sultan Abdülmecid I to the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca. They were brought back to Istanbul shortly before the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the loss of control over Mecca. The golden ceremonial Bayram throne, mounted with tourmalines, was made in 1585 by order of the vizier Ibrahim Pasha and presented to Sultan Murad III. This throne would be set up in front of the Gate of Felicity on special audiences.

 

The throne of Sultan Mahmud I is the centerpiece of the fourth room. This golden throne in Indian style, decorated with pearls and emeralds, was a gift of the Persian ruler Nader Shah in the 18th century. Another rather curious exhibit shows the forearm and the hand of St. John the Baptist, set in a golden covering. Several displays show an assembly of flintlock guns, swords, spoons, all decorated with gold and jewels. Of special interest is the golden shrine that used to contain the cloak of the prophet Mohammed.

 

As of 2007, taking photographs in this hall is strictly forbidden. Permission for research purposes has to be granted before by the authorities.

 

 

Miniature and Portrait Gallery

 

Adjacent to the north of the Imperial Treasury lie the pages dormitory, which have been turned into the Miniature and Portrait Gallery (Müzesi Müdüriyeti). On the lower floor is a collection of important calligraphies and miniatures. In the displays one can see old and very precious korans (12th-17th c.), hand-painted and hand-written in Kufic and also a bible from the 4th century, written in Arabic. A priceless item of this collection is the first world map by the Turkish admiral Piri Reis (1513). The map shows part of the western coasts of Europe and North Africa with reasonable accuracy, and the coast of Brazil is also easily recognizable. The upper part of the gallery contains 37 portraits of different sultans, most of which are copies since the original paintings are too delicate to be shown public. The portrait of Mehmed II was painted by the Venetian painter Gentile Bellini. Other precious Ottoman miniature paintings that are either kept in this gallery, the palace library or in other parts are the Hünername, Sahansahname, the Sarayı Albums, Siyer-ı Nebi, Surname-ı Hümayun, Surname-ı Vehbi, and the Süleymanname amongst many others.

 

 

Enderûn Library (Library of Ahmed III)

 

The Neo-classical Enderûn Library (Enderûn Kütüphanesi), also known as Library of Sultan Ahmed III (III. Ahmed Kütüphanesi), is situated directly behind the Audience Chamber (Arz Odası) in the centre of the Third Court. It was built on the foundations of the earlier Havuzlu kiosk by the royal architect Mimar Beşir Ağa in 1719 on orders of Sultan Ahmed III for the use of the officials of the royal household. The colonnade of this earlier kiosk now probably stands in front of the present Treasury. The library is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture of the 18th century. The exterior of the building is faced with marble. The library has the form of a Greek cross with a domed central hall and three rectangular bays. The fourth arm of the cross consists of the porch that can be approached by a flight of stairs on either side. Beneath the central arch of the portico is an elaborate drinking fountain with niches on each side. The building is set on a low basement to protect the precious books of the library against moisture. The walls above the windows are decorated with 16th - 17th century İznik tiles of variegated design. The central dome and the vaults of the rectangular bays have been painted. The decoration inside the dome and vaults are typical of the so-called Tulip Era, which lasted from 1703–1730. The books were stored in cupboards in the walls. The niche opposite the entrance was the private reading corner of the sultan.

 

The library contained books on theology, Islamic law and similar works of scholarship in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic and Persian. In those days the library contained more than 3,500 manuscripts. Some are fine examples of inlay work with nacre and ivory. Today these books are kept in the Mosque of the Ağas (Ağalar Camii), which is located next to the library in the western direction. One of the important items is the so-called Topkapi manuscript, a copy of the Holy Koran from the time of the third Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan.

 

 

Mosque of the Ağas

 

The Mosque of the Ağas (Ağalar Camii) is the largest mosque in the palace. It is also one of the oldest constructions, dating from the 15th century during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II. The Sultan, the ağas and pages would come here to pray. The mosque is aligned in a diagonal line in the courtyard, in order to make the minbar face towards Mecca. In 1928 the books of the Enderûn Library amongst other works were moved here as the Palace Library (Sarayı Kütüphanesi), housing a collection of about 13,500 Turkish, Arabic, Persian and Greek books and manuscripts, collected by the Ottomans. Located next to the mosque to the northeast is the Imperial Portraits Collection.

 

 

Dormitory of the Royal Pages

 

The Dormitory of the Royal Pages (Hasoda Koğuşu) houses the Imperial Portraits Collection (Padişah Portreleri Sergi Salonu) is located in the , which were part of the Sultan's chambers. The painted portraits depict all the Ottoman sultans and some rare photographs of the later ones, the latter being kept in glass cases. The room is air-conditioned and the temperature regulated and monitored to protect the paintings. Since the sultans rarely showed themselves in public and in order to respect Islamic sensitivities surrounding the artistic depictions of humans, the earlier portraits of them are actually only an idealisation, they do not reflect the reality. Only starting with the rule of the moderniser Sultan Mahmud II and his modern reforms were realistic portraits of the rulers made. An interesting feature is a large painted family tree of the Ottoman rulers.

 

The domed chamber is supported by pillars, some of which are of Byzantine origin since a cross is clearly visible engraved on one of them. As of 2007, taking any photographs in this hall is strictly forbidden. Permission for research purposes has to be granted before by the authorities. Located next to the collection in the north is the Chamber of the Sacred Relics.

 

 

Privy Chamber

 

The Privy Chamber houses the Chamber of the Sacred Relics (Kutsal Emanetler Dairesi), which includes the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle. The chamber was constructed by Sinan under the reign of Sultan Murad III. It used to house offices of the Sultan. It houses the cloak of the prophet Muhammad, his sword, one tooth, a hair of his beard, his battle sabres, an autographed letter and other relics which are known as the Sacred Trusts. Several other sacred objects are on display, such as the swords of the first four Caliphs, the staff of Moses, the turban of Joseph and a carpet of the daughter of Mohammed. Even the Sultan and his family were permitted entrance only once a year, on the 15th day of Ramadan, during the time when the palace was a residence. Now any visitor can see these items and many Muslims come on pilgrimage for this purpose.

 

The Arcade of the Chamber of the Holy Mantle was added in the reign of Murad III, but was altered when the Circumcision Room was added. This arcade may have been built on the site of the Temple of Poseidon, that was transformed before the 10th century into the Church of St. Menas.

 

 

Harem

 

The Harem was home to the Sultan's mother, the Valide Sultan; the concubines and wives of the Sultan; and the rest of his family, including children; and their servants. There are approximately 300 rooms of which only about twenty are open to the public. The Harem housed as many as 500 people, which sometimes amounted up to 300 women, their children, and the eunuchs. The harem wing was only added at the end of the 16th century. Many of the rooms and features in the Harem were designed by Sinan. The harem was decorated again under the sultans Mahmud I and Osman III in an Italian-inspired Ottoman Baroque style. These decorations contrast with those of the Ottoman classical age.

 

One enters the harem through the Gate of Carts (Arabalar Kapısı), located at the end of the Second Court, leading into the Domed Cupboard Room (Dolaplı Kubbe). Empty shelves and cupboards used to keep the records of deeds written by the eunuchs.

 

 

Hall of the Ablution Fountain

 

The Hall of the Ablution Fountain (Şadirvanli Sofa) was renovated after the Harem fire of 1666. This second great fire took place on 24 July 1665. This space was an entrance hall into the Harem, which was guarded by the Harem eunuchs. The Büyük Biniş, and the Şal Kapısı, which connected the Harem, the Privy Garden, the Mosque of the Harem Eunuchs and the Tower of Justice from where the Sultan watched the deliberations of the imperial council, led to this place. The walls are riveted with 17th century Kütahya tiles. The horse block in front of the mosque served the Sultan to mount his horse and the sitting benches were for the guards. The fountain that gives the space its name is now in the pool of the Privy Chamber of Sultan Murad III.

 

On the left side is the small mosque of the black eunuchs. The tiles in watery green, dirty white and middle blue all date from the 17th century (reign of Sultan Mehmed IV). Their design is of a high artistic level but the execution is of minor quality compared to previous tiles.

 

 

Courtyard of the Eunuchs

 

Another door leads to the Courtyard of the (Black) Eunuchs, with on the left side their apartments. At the end of the court is the apartment of the black chief eunuch (Kızlar Ağası), the fourth high-ranking official in the official protocol. In-between lies the school for the imperial princes with precious tiles from the 17th and 18th centuries and gilded wainscoting. At the end of the court is the main gate to the harem (Cümle Kapısi). The narrow corridor on the left side leads to the apartments of the odalisques (white slaves given as a gift to the sultan).

 

Eunuchs at the Ottoman court were preferably taken from Africa, especially Sudan. Since lighter skin was considered more aestheticly pleasing than dark skin, the sultans felt the chances of an affair developing between their, mostly Eastern European, concubines and their dark-skinned eunuch caretakers extremely low.

 

 

Passage of Concubines

 

The Passage of Concubines (Cariye Koridoru) leads into the Courtyard of the Sultan's Chief Consorts and Concubines. On the counters along the passage, the eunuchs placed the dishes they brought from the kitchens in the palace.

 

 

Courtyard of the Sultan's Consorts and the Concubines

 

The Courtyard of the Sultan's Consorts and the Concubines (Kadın Efendiler Taşlığı / Cariye Taşlığı) was constructed at the same time as the courtyard of the eunuchs in the middle of the 16th century. It underwent restoration after the 1665 fire and is the smallest courtyard of the Harem. The porticoed courtyard is surrounded by baths, a laundry fountain, a laundry, dormitories and the apartments of the Sultan's chief consort. The three independent tiled apartments with fireplaces overlooking the Golden Horn were the quarters where the consorts of the Sultan lived. These constructions covered the site of the courtyard in the late 16th century. At the entrance to the quarters of the Queen Mother, wall frescoes from the late 18th century depicting landscapes, reflect the western influence. The staircase, called the "Forty Steps" (Kirkmerdiven), leads to the Hospital of the Harem (Harem Hastanesi), the dormitories of the concubines at the basement of the Harem and Harem Gardens.

 

 

Role of the concubines

 

For the perpetuation of the dynasty and service to the Ottoman Dynasty, beautiful and intelligent girls were brought in from the neighbouring countries to become imperial concubines (Cariyes). The concubines who were introduced into the Harem in their tender age were brought up in the disciplines of the Palace. They were promoted according to their capacities and became Kaftas and Ustas. The concubine, with whom the Sultan shared his bed, became a member of the dynasty and rose in rank to attain the status of Gözde (the Favourite) or Kadınefendi (one of the Sultan’s consorts). The highest position herself was the Queen Mother (Valide Sultan), the mother of the Sultan, who herself used to be a concubine of the Sultan’s father and rose to the supreme rank in the Harem. No concubine could leave or enter the premises of the Harem without the explicit permission of the Queen Mother. The powers of the Queen Mother even extended to questions of life and death of a concubine, with eunuchs directly reporting to her. The concubines either lived in the halls beneath the apartments of the Consorts, Queen Mother and the Sultan, or in separate chambers. The Kadınefendis who had borne children to the Sultan and whose number varied between four to eight formed the group which was next in rank to the Queen Mother.

 

 

Apartments of the Queen Mother

 

The Apartments of the Queen Mother (Valide Sultan Dairesi) consists of forty rooms of the Valide Sultan (mother of the ruling sultan), which were also rebuilt in 1667 after the second fire. Some rooms, such as the small music room, have been added to this section in the 18th century. Only two of these rooms are open to the public : the dining room with, in the upper gallery, the reception room and her bedroom with, behind a lattice work, a niche for prayer. These are all enriched with blue-and-white or yellow-and-green tiles with flowery motifs and İznik porcelain. The panel representing Mecca or Medina, signed by Osman İznikli Mehmetoğlu, represents a new style in İznik tiles. The paintwork in the dining room was executed by foreigners during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid I.

 

 

Baths of the Sultan and the Queen Mother

 

The next rooms are the Baths of the Sultan and the Queen Mother (Hünkâr ve Vâlide Hamamları). This double bath dates from the late 16th century and consists of multiple rooms. It was redecorated in the rococo style in the middle of the 18th century. Both baths present the same design, consisting of a caldarium, a tepidarium and a frigidarium. Each room either has a dome, or the ceilings are at some point glassed in a honeycomb structure to let the natural sunlight in. The floor is clad in white and grey marble. The marble tub with an ornamental fountain in the caldarium and the gilded iron grill are characteristic features. The golden lattice work was to protect the bathing Sultan or his mother from murder attempts. The Sultan's bath was decorated by Sinan with high-quality İznik polychrome tiles. But much of the tile decoration of the harem, from structures damaged by the fire of 1574, was recycled by Sultan Ahmed I for decoration is his new Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul. The walls are now either clad in marble or white-washed.

 

 

Imperial Hall

 

The Imperial Hall (Hünkâr Sofası), also known as the Imperial Sofa, Throne Room Within or Hall of Diversions, is a domed hall in the Harem, believed to have been built in the late 16th century. It has the largest dome in the palace. The hall served as the official reception hall of the Sultan as well as for the entertainment of the Harem. Here the Sultan received his confidants, guests, his mother, his first wife (Hasseki), consorts, and his children. Entertainments, paying of homage during religious festivals, and wedding ceremonies took place here in the presence of the members of the dynasty.

 

After the Great Harem Fire of 1666, the hall was renovated in the rococo style during the reign of Sultan Osman III. The tile belt surrounding the walls bearing calligraphic inscriptions were riveted with 18th century blue and white Delftware and mirrors of Venetian glass. But the domed arch and pendantives still bear classical paintings dating from the original construction.

 

In the hall stands the Sultan's throne. The gallery was occupied by the consorts of the Sultan, headed by the Queen Mother. The gilded chairs are a present of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, while the clocks are a gift of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. A pantry, where musical instruments are exhibited and certain other apartments, opens to the Imperial Hall which gives access into the Sultan's private apartments.

 

A secret door behind a mirror allowed the Sultan a safe passage. One door admits to the Queen Mother’s apartments, another to the Sultan's hammam. The opposite doors lead to the small dining chamber (rebuilt by Ahmed III) and the great bedchamber, while the other admits to a series of ante-chambers, including the room with the fountain (Çeşmeli Sofa), which were all retiled and redecorated in the 17th century.

 

 

Apartment of Sultan Murat III

 

This great bedchamber of Murat III is the oldest and finest surviving room in the harem, having retained its original interior. It was a design of the master architect Sinan and dates from the 16th century. Its dome is only slightly smaller than that of the Throne Room. Its hall has one of the finest doors of the palace and leads past the wing of the crown princes (Kafes). The room is decorated with blue-and-white and coral-red İznik tiles. The rich floral designs are framed in thick orange borders of the 1570s. A band of inscriptional tiles runs around the room above the shelf and door level. The large arabesque patterns of the dome have been regilded and repainted in black and red. The large fireplacwith gilded hood (ocak) stands opposite a two-tiered fountain (çeşme), skilfully decorated in coloured marble. The flow of water had to prevent any eavesdropping, while providing a relaxed atmosphere to the room. The two gilded baldachin beds date from the 18th century.

 

 

Twin Kiosk  (Apartments of the Crown Prince)

 

The Twin Kiosk / Apartments of the Crown Prince (Çifte Kasırlar / Veliahd Dairesi) consists of two privy chambers built in the 17th century, at different times. The two rooms date from the reign of Sultan Murat III, but are more probably from the reign of Ahmed I. These chambers represent all the details of the classical style used in other parts of the palace. The pavilion has been completely redecorated and most of the Baroque woodwork has been removed. The decorative tiles, reflecting the high quality craftsmanship of the İznik tile industry of the 17th century, were removed in accordance with the original concept and replaced with modern copies. The paintwork of the wooden dome is still original and is an example of the rich designs of the late 16th/early 17th centuries. The fireplace in the second room has a tall, gilded hood and has been restored to its original appearance. The window shutters next to the fire place are decorated with nacre intarsia. The windows in coloured glass look out across the high terrace and the garden of the pool below. The spigots in these windows are surrounded with red, black and gold designs.

 

The crown prince (Şehzadeler) lived here in seclusion, therefore the apartments were also called kafes (cage). The crown prince and other princes were trained in the discipline of the Ottoman Harem until they reached adulthood. Afterwards, they were send as governors to Anatolian provinces, where they were further trained in the administration of state affairs. From the beginning of the 17th century onward, the princes lived in the Harem, which started to have a voice in the palace administration. The Twin Kiosk was used as the privy chamber of the crown prince from the 18th century onward.

 

On the other side of the great bedchamber are two smaller rooms : first the Library of Ahmed I, richly decorated with İznik glazed tiles. The cabinet doors, the window shutters, a small table and a koran lectern are decorated with nacre and ivory. Next to it lies the small but spectacular dining room of Ahmed III with wall painted with panels of floral designs and bowls of fruit and with an intricate tiles fireplace (ocak).

 

Next to the carriage entrance to the harem lies the barracks of the royal guard of the Halberdiers of the Long Tresses. It was their duty to carry, with eyes blinkered, logs and heavy loads to the private quarters. These barracks were rebuilt after the fire of 1574 by Sultan Murat III. The main barrack hall is still close to the original state. It is a long, lofty hall surrounded by wooden galleries. The lofty hall located next to the dormitory served as the armoury where the halberds could be stored.

 

 

Golden Road

 

The Golden Road (Altınyol) is a narrow passage that form the axis of the Harem, dating from the 15th century. It extends between the Courtyard of the Harem Eunuch (Harem Ağaları Taşlığı) and the Privy Chamber (Has Oda). The Sultan used this passage to pass to the Harem, the Privy Chamber and the Sofa-i Hümâyûn, the Imperial terrace. The Courtyard of the Queen Mother (Valide Sultan Taşlığı’), the Courtyard of the Chief Consort of the Sultan (Baş Haseki), the apartments of the Princes (Şehzadegân Daireleri), and the apartments of the Sultan (Hünkâr Dairesi) open to this passage. It is believed that the attribute "golden" is due to the Sultan's throwing golden coins to be picked up by the concubines at festive days. The walls are painted in plain white colour.

 

 

Fourth Courtyard

 

The Fourth Courtyard (IV. Avlu), also known as the Imperial Sofa (Sofa-i Hümayun) was more of a private sanctuary of the Sultan and his family, and consists of a number of pavilions, kiosks (köşk), gardens and terraces.

 

 

Circumcision Room

 

In 1648 Sultan Ibrahim I added the Circumcision Room (Sünnet Odası), a kiosk dedicated to the circumcision of young princes, which is a primary rite of passage in Islam. Its interior and exterior are decorated with a mixed collection of recycled tiles such as the blue tiles with flower motifs at the exterior. These once embellished ceremonial buildings of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, such as the building of the Council Hall and the Inner Treasury (both in the Second Courtyard) and the Throne Room (in the Third Courtyard). They were moved here out of nostalgia and reverence for the golden age of his reign. These tiles then served as prototypes for the decoration of the Yerevan and Baghdad kiosks. The room itself is well-proportioned and spacious with windows, each with a small fountain. The windows above contain some stained-glass panels. On the right side of the entrance stands a fireplace with a gilded hood. Ibrahim also built the arcaded roof around the Chamber of the Holy Mantle and the upper terrace between this room and the Baghdad kiosk.

 

The royal architect Hasan Ağa under Sultan Murat IV constructed during 1635–1636 the two Yerevan Kiosk (Revan Köşkü) and in 1638–1639 the Baghdad Kiosk (Bağdat Köşkü) to celebrate the Ottoman victories at Yerevan and Baghdad. Both have projecting eaves, a central dome and interior with recessed cupboards and woodwork with inlaid nacre tesserae. Both are based on the classical four-iwan plan with sofas filling the rectangular bays.

 

 

Yerevan Kiosk

 

The Yerevan Kiosk (Revan Köşkü) served as a religious retreat of forty days. It is a rather small pavilion with a central dome, three apses for sofas. The fourth wall contains the door and a fireplace. The wall facing the colonnade is set with marble, the other walls with mediocre İznik blue-and-white tiles, patterned after those of a century earlier.

 

 

Baghdad Kiosk

 

The Baghdad Kiosk (Bağdad Köşkü) is situated on the right side of the terrace with fountain. It closely resembles the Revan Kiosk. The three doors to the porch are located between the sofas. The façade is covered with marble, strips of porphyry and verd antique. The marble paneling of the portico is executed in Cairene Mamluk style. The interior is an example of an ideal Ottoman room. The recessed shelves and cupboards are decorated with early 16th century green, yellow and blue tiles. The blue-and-white tiles on the walls are copies of the tiles of the Circumcision Room, right across the terrace.

 

The inlaid doors are among the finest in the palace. On the right side of the entrance is a beautiful fireplace with gilded hood. In the middle of the room is a silver mangal (charcoal stove), a present of King Louis XIV of France. This pavilion was used for some time as a library. Both kiosks have become typical of Islamic and Ottoman palace architecture.

 

 

İftar Pavilion

 

The gilded İftar Pavilion, also known as İftar Kiosk or İftar bower (İftariye Köşkü or İftariye Kameriyesi) offers a view on the city and the harbour and is a magnet for tourists. Its ridged cradle vault was a first in Ottoman architecture with charming echoes of China and India. The sultans used to come here after sunset during the ramadan.

 

 

Imperial Sofa Kiosk

 

The rectilinear Imperial Sofa Kiosk (Sofa-i Hümâyûn Köşkü) or Imperial Sofa Pavillon, also known as Kiosk of Kara Mustafa Pasha, was a belvedere built in the second half of the 16th century. It was to be used by the successive sadrazams (grand vizier or chancellor). It was restored in 1704 by Sultan Ahmed III and rebuilt in 1752 by Mahmud I in Rococo style. It is the only wooden building in the palace. It consists of two large rooms with the backside supported by columns. This open building with large windows was originally used as a restroom and later, during the Age of Tulips (1718–1730) as a lodge for guests. It is situated next to the Tulip Garden.

 

 

Tower of the Head Physician

 

The square Tower of the Head Physician (Hekimbaşı Kulesi or Baş Lala Kulesi) dates from the 15th century, probably from the reign of Mehmed II, and is the oldest building in the Fourth Courtyard. These square towers were at that time quite common in Europe. It has few windows and its walls are almost two metres thick. The physician had his private chamber at the top, while below was a store for drugs and medicaments.

 

 

Grand Kiosk

 

The Grand Kiosk, also known as the Grand Pavilion or Kiosk of Abdül Mecid I (Mecidiye Köşkü), built in 1840, was the last significant addition to the palace. It was built by Sultan Abdül Mecid I as a seaside palace because of its splendid location, giving a panoramic view on the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus. The architect Sarkis Balyan constructed it in an eclectic Europeanized style, mixed with traditional Ottoman style. It was used occasionally to accommodate foreign guests.

 

 

Dressing Room

 

The small, white Dressing Room (Esvab Odası) building, next to the Grand Kiosk, now holds a collection of the kaftans of the sultan.

 

 

Imperial Sofa Mosque

 

The Imperial Sofa Mosque (Sofa-i Hümâyûn Camii) is a small, white mosque located next to the Esvab. It dates to the 16th century and was built for the nearby dormitory of the pages.

 

 

Konyalı Restaurant

 

Located next to the Grand Kiosk is the Konyalı Restaurant, a popular and high-end restaurant. The restaurant has been visited by guests such as Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, First Lady Jackie Kennedy, President Richard Nixon, and boxer Mohammed Ali, amongst many. Visitors can also order coffee and dishes at the outside veranda, which has a panoramic view of the Bosphorus and the Asian side. Most tourists come here to take pictures of the sea and the city.

 

 

Other notable features

 

Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III

 

The great square fountain is a Rococo building in front of the palace gate that was built under Sultan Ahmed III in 1728. It was a social centre and gathering place. Each of the four façades contain a drinking fountain (çeşme), flanked by niches and decorated in low relief with foliate and floral designs. On each corner is a triple-grilled sebil (water tank from which an attendant issued cups of water from behind a grille). Above the drinking fountains is an elegant frieze with a long poem in calligraphy, dedicated to water, framed in blue and red bands. The roof is formed by a central dome, rising from an octagonal drum, and a little turret on each of the four corners. The ceiling is elaborately panelled.

 

 

Trees in Topkapi Palace

 

Many of the trees in the Topkapi Palace are remarkable since most of them fell victim to a fungus that completely hollowed the trunk out over the centuries, even though the trees still survive until today and are standing. In other cases, two trees of a different kind have grown and fused together, such as a fig tree that grew in the hollow of a tree and effectively fused together. This phenomenon can be seen in the Second Court.

 

See also

Topkapı Palace

   
   

TransAnatolie Tour

 
 

 

 

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