THE TOPKAPI PALACE
The Palace was where the Ottoman sultans lived and used it as the administrative center of the state for 400 years of the 600-year history of the Ottoman Empire. Over a period of time, nearly 4,000 lived here.
The Topkapi Palace was built by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1478 and became the official residence of the Ottoman sultans and administrative center for 380 years until Abdulmecit built the Dolmabahce Palace. Located in an area of approximately 70.000 m.² in the foundation year, the present area of the palace is 80.000 m².
The Topkapi Palace was evacuated together with the people of the palace starting to live in Dolmabahce Palace, Yildiz Palace and other palaces. After being abandoned by the Sultans, the Topkapi Palace, where many officials lived, has never lost its importance. The palace was repaired from time to time. During the month of Ramadan, a special importance was given to the annual maintenance of the Office of the Holy Relations which was visited by the sultan and his family.
The Palace opened for the first time, almost like a museum, in the time of Abdulmecit. At that time, the British Ambassador was shown the goods in the Topkap? Palace Treasure. After that, it became a tradition to show old works of the Topkap? Palace Treasure to the foreigners. During the time of Abdulaziz, glass displays were built in amphora style. Old works in the treasure were started to be displayed to foreigners in these windows. II. Abdulhamid was supposed to open the Topkapi Palace Treasure visit to the public on Sunday and Tuesdays, although this never happened.
The structure is located on the Byzantine acropolis in Sarayburnu at the end of historical Istanbul peninsula between Marmara Sea, Istanbul Bosphorus and Golden Horn. The palace was separated from the city by the Byzantine walls and by the Sûr-i Sultâný built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Apart from the doors opening to various places in the palace with various the land doors and the sea doors, the monumental entrance of the palace is the Bâb-? Hümâyûn (Sultanate Door) located behind Hagia Sophia. The Palace was divided into two main sections in accordance with the structure formed due to the administration, education place and residence of the sultan. These are the Enderun, which consists of the First and Second Aveda service structures and the ones related to the internal organization.
Bab-i Hümayun (Sultan’s Gate)
Bâb-? Hümâyûn opens to the palace area in Sur-i Sultani, which separates the palace from the city and was built by Fatih with the construction of the palace.
At the top of the door is a müsemen (reciprocal) style written by Ali bin Yahya Sofi, writing the 45-48th verses of Surat al-Hijr from the Holy Quran with the celi thuluth line. In the first book on the top of the door, he wrote in simplified form: “This blessed castle is built by the resurrection of Allah and His grace, the sultan of the lands, the witness of the seas, God’s shadow in the two worlds, Sultan Mehmed Han, the son of Sultan Mehmed Han, who is the father of the land and the father of the conquest of Konstantiniyye, Sultan Mehmed Han’s son Allah Tahara made his ruler eternal and his authority rises above the brilliant star of the palace.”
From the seals of II. Mahmut and Abdülaziz under this remark, it is understood that the door was repaired several times. On the two sides of Bab-i Hümayun, there are small rooms separated by doorman. There was a small apartment in the form of a pavilion built by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror himself which is not present now because it burned in 1866. The main advantage of the upper floor is that it was used as a Beytül (private treasury room). This space, which is connected with the muhallefat system, which is the system of taking the wealth of the Sultan’s deceased servants or the deceased persons to the sultan’s treasure.
- Courtyard (Alay Square)
This asymmetrical planned courtyard, palace-city-state triple administration system, has direct access from Bab-i Hümayun, is on the second floor with prescriptive structures. It is a center where the people can enter on certain days and carry out their relations with the state. It is the only field in which the state activist can enter on horseback.
The 300-meter-long tree-lined road that connects Bab-i Hümayun to Bab-üs Selam was the scene of the Sultans passing through for the glory of Selus, Military Expeditions and Friday Salutes. At the same time, the courtyard was also the stage for the processions of the dynasty members for any kind of special days.
The harem, which means “sacred place where everyone is not allowed to enter” in Arabic, defines the intimate family life in Muslim countries. The word “harem” was used in two different ways. The first one refers to the “sultan’s hapiness”, that is, his family, and the second refers to the place he lived in the family. The purpose of the palace dynasty, which constituted a wing of the reigning capitol cadres in accordance with the Ottoman administration conception, was to create a state aristocracy by forming a dynasty and marrying the odaliques after the disciplined education with the strict education in the Enderun School.
The Harem Circle was the living area of the queen, the ruling sultan, their children, their sisters and brothers, odaliques and the guardian of the Harem. This collective community, which is a special and prohibited place of the dynasty, is a very important complex in terms of the history of architecture, including examples from various periods from the 16th century to the beginning of the 19th century. There are about 300 rooms, 9 hammams, 2 mosques, 1 hospital, 1 laundry and a large number of wards in the Harem which was expanding with the additions made in every Sultan’s period.
In the institution of Harem, the places where all the service groups lived were gathered around a courtyard. The Podima stone floor was highlighted by the sultan’s route, ending in the quarry sofa, the entrance to the sultan’s house.
Hunkar and Valide Baths
One of the double baths belongs to women and other sultans. The baths, which the architect Sinan thought to have done in the 1580s, have seen various repairs. The interior decoration is in 18th century rococo style. Like the Roman baths, the hypocut system, that is, the baths that are heated at the bottom, consists of three parts; cold, warm and washable temperature, which were used for dressing and resting.