Topkapı Palace Museum

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Topkapı Palace Museum

The Topkapı Palace Museum and The Harem Topkapı Palace, which was used as the centre of administration and residence of dynasty in Istanbul the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, was completed in 1473 only two decades after Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered the city. Members of the Ottoman dynasty inhabited in the palace until they moved to the Bosphorus Palaces in the 19th century. By the order of Atatürk, Topkapı Palace was opened to visit as a museum after the proclamation of the republic in April 3, 1924.

Having gained a magnificent size and function upon additional buildings and renovations made by the order of different sultans in various periods, the palace depicts the development of the state administration. In the process of time, magnificence and the multi-functionality of the palace protocol and hierarchy was reflected to the architecture of Topkapı Palace. Even the palace became the artistic account of the growth and the fall of the state. With its process of dramatic events decorating the great history of Ottoman Empire, the palace is one of the rare examples to the museums in the world that could reach today with their historical backgrounds. The fact that Fatih Sultan Mehmet was the heir of the empire tradition of Byzantine and the Middle East, symbolized with the conquest of Istanbul, gave rise to dramatic changes in the previous state administration system which was questionably adorned with a dynamic and nomadic Asia-Anatolia tradition. Apparently, this fact provided the monarchy which was composed of the sultan and his family with power, and along with Fatih Kanunamesi (Law of Fatih Sultan Mehmet), provided the palace with a hierarchical structure and solemnity that would consciously adapt to a system of empire. One can gradually observe these changes within Topkapı Palace.
Topkapı Palace is built on the Byzantine acropol situated in Seraglio-Point (Sarayburnu) which forms the headland for the historical Istanbul peninsula; between Marmara Sea, The Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. The Palace is seperated from the city by Sûr-ı Sultâni at the side of land which was built by Fatih, and at the side of the sea; by city walls of Byzantine. Besides a variety of doors with different functions and sea and land doors; Bâb-ı Hümâyûn (The Imperial Gate) which is situated behind Ayasofya forms the monumental door of the palace. The reflection of the functional simplicity needed for a strong state which had experienced all kinds of splendour and protocol details for centuries is clear from the entrance of the palace. This gate, with its character in the 15th century, suits the castle-palace construction. Above the gate through which the public could enter there used to be a manor house that could stand up by the 19th century. It is known that regiments were watched from the manor house and special treasures were preserved in it.
The largest courtyard of the palace The First Courtyard is separated from the private garden of the sultan (Hasbahçe), which stretches in the Marmara Sea and the Golden Horn direction, as it is situated in the major axis. In this courtyard between the Bâb-ı Hümâyûn and the Bâb-üs Selâm (The Gate of Salutation) where the interior palace begins are Birun (outer of the main palace) service buildings which were under the control of the gardeners (Bostancılar); they do not exist any longer today. At the left hand side, wood-warehouses, the church of Hagia Eirene which was used as Cebehane (ammunition-store), royal mint buildings which were renovated and expanded in the 18th century are the structures that have survived to our day. In front of a cloister where statesmen and ambassadors used to tie their horses were successively a house for petition called Deavi Kasrı and Ebniye-i Hassa warehouses. At the right hand side of the avenue, Gülhane Hospital, Has Fırın and Dolap Ocağı which constituted the water-distribution system of the palace were the buildings in sequence that were bordering the First Courtyard.
Hasbahçe which has surrounded the palace in every period included many pavilions. The first of these pavilions is the Alay Köşkü (The Ceremonial Pavilion or The Parade Pavilion) built on a polygonal bastion on the opposite side of the Bâb-ı Âli Kapısı (Bâb-ı Âli Gate). The building which was used by sultans for watching various parades was renovated according to the Empire Style in the 19th century. Every year sultans used to watch the fleet ships put to sea from the Yalı Köşkü which was a polygonal open observation pavilion situated in the direction of the Golden Horn and on the side of Sirkeci. Because it was decide to build the railway through the garden, the pavilion was demolished at end of 19th century. It is supposed that the harem inhabitants used to watch these ceremonies from a 17th-century construction built in classic form called Sepetçiler Kasrı that has survived to our day. Besides various dorms and buildings that belonged to gardeners, the most important pavilion in this area was the Çinili Köşk (The Tiled Pavilion) which was built with the palace itself by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Known for its Timurid architectural style with its tiles and central plan with balconies, The Çinili Köşk was used as an archaeology museum in the era of the Abdulhamid II. In front of a gate with towers and cannons in Seraglio-Point because of which Saray-ı Cedid was lately called as Topkapı there was a wooden coastal palace which was built in Rococo style in the late 18th century at the seaside of Marmara Sea. The summer-palace was stretching next to The Mermer Köşk (The Marble Pavilion) with porticos which has survived to our day since the early 16th century. The palace burned in 1860s and a railway was built in stead of it. Incili Köşk (The Pearl Pavilion) whose base is visible in the walls next to the non-existing summer-palace was an observation pavilion which was constructed by the chief architect Davud Ağa by the order of Koca Sinan Paşa to submit to the Murad III.

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Turkey Tour Guide
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