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Topkapi Palace is considered one of the most famous and iconic museums of Istanbul. For more than four hundred years it was the residence of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. Fans of the series “The Magnificent Century” flock to Topkapi Palace to see with their own eyes how Sultan Suleiman and his beloved wife Hürrem (Roksolana) lived.
Topkapi Palace was built by Mehmed the Conqueror between 1460 and 1478 after the conquest of Istanbul and got its current appearance thanks to additional buildings built by subsequent sultans. The construction, which began with the arrangement of a garden and pavilions in Sarayburnu called Zeytinlik, continued with walls called Sur-i Sultani. For many years the palace was called Sarây-ı Cedîd-i mire because of the old palace in Beyazıt, and then the name Top Kapısı Palace began to be used because of the name of Toplu Kapı pavilion. The palace, to which additions were made over time, remained the center of life and government until the mid-19th century. In the 1840s, since the existing palace did not meet the requirements of 19th-century state protocol, Dolmabahçe Palace was built between 1843 and 1856, and after some time the center of life and administration of the dynasty was completely moved to Dolmabahçe Palace.
Topkapı Palace is located in one of the oldest historic districts of Istanbul. Located on Istanbul’s historic peninsula between the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, the palace is one of Istanbul’s iconic buildings. Topkapı Palace, built on an area of 700,000 square meters on the eastern Roman acropolis in Sarayburnu, was the administrative, educational and artistic center of the empire and the residence of the sultans for nearly four hundred years until the 31st Ottoman Sultan Sultan Abdülmecid. Since the mid-19th century the Topkapi Palace was abandoned when the dynasty moved to the Dolmabahce Palace, but it has retained its historical significance and value.
After the founding of the Turkish Republic on April 3, 1924, Topkapi Palace was turned into a museum and is the first museum of the Republic. Today, Topkapi Palace, covering an area of about 350,000 square meters, not including Gulhane Park, is one of the largest palace museums in the world with its buildings, architecture, collections and about 300,000 archival documents.
It is evident that the plan of the building, whose main lines are formed by large courtyards and surrounding porticoes and service buildings, was influenced by the Edirne Palace. The service buildings were built in stone and are mostly single-story buildings with high domes. The buildings used as residences were mostly built of stone and wood, and their domes were covered with lead. The palace interiors and gardens were enriched with such details as fountains, pools, fountains and fountains, and many cisterns were built.
We can say that in terms of organization Topkapı Palace consists of four sections: the Maintenance and Protection Zone (Bîrun), the Administrative Center (Dîvân-ı Hümâyun), the Education Zone (Enderûn) and the Sultans’ Personal Residence Zone (Harem). The palace has three large gates, called the Demir Gate and the Otluk Gate, and five service gates (seating gates) on the walls, modeled after the Byzantine city walls, along with Bâb-ı Hümâyun, which is the main entrance gate.
The first gate, Bâb-ı Hümâyun, is a two-story mansion gate with the signature of Ali b. Yahya al-Sufi on the inscription. The second gate is Babusselam and the third is Babussaade. The palace buildings consist of four courtyards and architectural structures around them. Among the palace buildings, surrounded by gardens and squares, the first courtyard, also known as Alai Square, contained the church of St. Irene, a mint, a bakery, a hospital, a timber warehouse, and a staple quarry.
The second courtyard of the palace is Diwan Square, also known as Justice Square, where the administration of the state takes place. In this courtyard, which has been the site of many ceremonies throughout history, is the Diwan-i Hümaün (Kubbealti), where the Diwan assemblies take place, and next to it is the Diwan-i Hümaün Treasury. In this courtyard behind the structure of the Divan is the Tower of Justice, and next to the Kubbealti is the entrance to the Harem Department, the Zülüflu Baltachilar Department and the stables.
The third courtyard of the palace is also called the courtyard of Enderun. In this part are the great and small halls, the Arz room belonging to the Sultan, the Doğançilar (Şahinciler) chamber, the Seferliler quarry, the Kilerli chamber, the Enderün treasury and the Has room (Department of sacred relics), as well as buildings belonging to the palace school. In the Enderun, located in the third courtyard, were the chambers of the chamberlains on the right and left when entering from the Babussaade side, and the treasury department, known as Fatih Köşkü, on the upper right as you continue to the right. In the upper left corner a stone structure with four domes, leaning against a section of the Harem, was the Room of Hass. This place is better known as the Hyrka-i Saadet Dayresi after holy relics were brought here during the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim.