Visitors Accepted Sections in Topkapi Palace
Babi Humayun is one of the entrance doors of Topkapi Palace ,facing with Hagia Sophia Mosque. An Epigraph embroidered by Ali B. Yahya es Sufi is located on this door.This epigraph is written in Ottoman and says :
“This holy castle is constructed by the order of the
Sultan Mehmet Khan the second ,– God , the Almighty ,let his reign eternal and let his place higher than polar star– Sultan of the lands and the Ruler of the seas,the shadow of God on
people and demons, God’s deputy in the East and the West ,the hero of sea and earth ,the conqueror of Constantinople , the father of conquest ,son of Sultan Murat and grandson of Sultan Mehmet,upon the help and consent of God, in order to ensure safety in the blessed month of Ramadan ( november 1478) of the year 883 (according to Hijri calendar)”
In addition, the forty-fifth and forty-eight verses in the form of Musenna are included in the epigraph on the Babi-Humayun. This writing is very meaningful for Ottoman Empire and very important in terms of the art of calligraphy and still remain there for hundreds of years.
On the other side of Babi-Humayun the thirteenth verse of Surat as-Saff takes place on the monogram of Sultan Abdul Aziz and tells:
“ give glad tidings to the believers! A victory soon
to come and the help of God”
This verse was used to be repeated by the Janissary Band before attack. According to the ancient stone inscriptions, there was a huge mansion on the Babi Humayun until the fire happened in the late nineteenth century .It was reported that the processions was watched and the treasures of Muallefat ( inherited personal belongins left by dead person) was kept there.The said mansion could not reach to our time because of the fire when the calendar showed the year 1865
The First Courtyard (Parade Square)
This courtyard was entered via Bab-i Humayun gate,and it was the unique section of the Topkapi Palace where the public was allowed to enter.Various military ceremonies and parades was being executed in this courtyard.The “Deavi Pavilion” in this courtyard did not reach our age and nothing remained but the ruins, was the point of requests and complaints made by the public to the Sublime State. The mat maker guild and warehouse guild were situated at the left side of the First coutyard ( In this part the ruins of administration and police station buidings which were constructed in the late nineteenth century and in the background the ruins of Patriarchate Palace can be seen ) In addition,Hagia Eirene Church (St. Irene Church), the Imperial Mint building ( where the gold coins of that period were minted ) are situated in this part.
At the right side of the Parade Square,The Enderun Hospital, the bagel and bread bakehouses for the Palace people ,the Ministry of Finance, Has Bakery Mosque,the residence buildings for Palace Officials and early period water gauge relatin with the fountain of Sultan Mahmut the second can be seen .Furthermore, an another fountain described as “ Executioner Fontain” is situated closed to the Middle Gate.
Hagia Eirene Church (St. Irene Church) is the earliest building in the Courtyard which was constructed to be used as the Church of the Patriarchate’s Palace. There are three gates of the Hagia Eirene Church.The first is opened to the Golden Horn direction and called as “Kozbekcileri Gate” , the second Gate opens to Marmara sea and called as “Golden Boot Gate” and the last one opens to the direction of Hasbahce (Imperial Park)
Hagia Eirene Church, constructed in the sixth century BC , is the reflection of the Byzantine architecture ,was formerly used as an armory and converted into the archeological museum in the period of Fethi Ahmet Pasha .In 1894 ,the Archeological museum was moved to the current buildind and the building has been used as a military museum.
On the side of the Church of Hagia Eirene there are the craft workshops , built during Roman Empire and used also by Ottoman State.In these workshops , the artisans worked in many areas ranging from carpentry to bookbinding.İn addition, the gifts sent to the rulers and kings in abroad by Ottoman Empire were manufactured in these workshops. In the late nineteenth century , The workshop referred as “Hunerveran” amongst these workshops was converted into the mint when the dynasty moved to Dolmabahce Palace from Topkapi Palace.The golden coins of the Sublime State were minted in this workshop for a short while. The “Executioner Fontain” where the wood stores were situated to meet the heating needs of the Topkapi Palace, is an another worthwhile of visiting in the first courtyard and is located on the right
side just before entering via Babusselam.
This is the entrance to the main section of the Topkapi Palace ,after tha passageway between the two towers referred as Babusselam,on the other word Middle Gate.Babusselam was built first by Fatih Sultan Mehmet ,the conqueror of Istanbul and was subjected to serious restorations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This Gate could be crossed on horseback by the Sultan and by other dignitaries on foot.Valide Sultan (Sultan’s mother) and other palace resident ladies were used to pass this Gate with imperial carriages.The two towers located on the Middle Gate opening to the Court square was built by Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan Selim’s son.There is a room in the tower reserved for the commander of the Gate sentries. This room was the guest or waiting room for the ambassadors of the foreign countries who requested to enter the palace before they were accepted by the sultan.The visitors entrance to Topkapi Palace which is currently used as museum ,is carried out by this door .
This ceremonial square which is referred as Divan (Court) Square where the Ottoman State was represented by the officials of the Place , was built in 1460. In the course of history, certain activities such as tip for enthronement,the distribution of Janissery pay ,reception of ambassadors and greetings for religious holidays were performed in this Square.
Behind the cloisters located at the right side of the Court Square,there was the Palace Kitchen where all the dishes were cooked.
At the left side of the courtyard Square, It can be seen Kubbealti where the meetings of Imperial Court (meeting of the Council of Ministers of the period) was carried out , the Tower of Justice and External Treasury Building where the weapons are exhibited. In addition, the has stable yard,axmen dormitory and coachmen’s gate for famous Harem were positioned in this section.
There are two fontains built by Sultan Ahmet III. located on the left side of Babusselam. On the right side of Babusselam, there is a Byzantine Cistern located on the Sultan’s Road referred as Babussaade.It can be seen Salute Stones symbolizing the Sultan on the way referred as Vizier’s Road in the direction of Kubbealti.
Constructed on a 9-acre space Enderun Atrium is literally a castle protected by another castle. This atrium is surrounded by structures that are constructed of masonry materials and thus it is impossible to enter this atrium when the exterior doors of the atrium are closed.
On the way from Enderun Atrium to Babussaade, the first building you encounter is Arz Odasi (Submission Chamber). There is the library of Sultan Ahmet III next to the back of Arz Odasi. There are Meskhane (meaning school during the Ottoman period), Turkish bath remains from the period of Sultan Selim II, Fatih Kiosk, Enderun Mektebi (special school in the Ottoman palace) and Expeditionary Ward on the right side of Enderun Atrium. On the left side of the atrium there are Office of the Holy Mantle (a special room with 4 domes where the holy relics from the period of Prophet Muhammed are displayed), Agalar Mosque, Special Room Ward (Has Oda Kogusu);on both sides of Babussade Construction wards called big room and little room, Aviary and Akagalar Ward. On the opposite of side of the atrium Kilerli Ward (Pantry Ward), Treasury Ward and Armorer Treasury are located.
Sofa-i Humayun (Imperial Sofa)
Defined as Has Oda (special room) special for the sultan this double row with large columns is the terrace called as Sofa-i Humayun, it is also known as Marble Sofa. Consisting of marble terrace with a pool and a flower garden at the end of this terrace Sofa-i Humayun is one the most precious places of Topkapi Palace. The fountain pool in Sofa-i Humayun was larger in the seventeenth century but due to the modifications made in Sultan Murat IV and Sultan Ibrahim periods the fountain pool was narrowed down and Sofa-i Humayun was extended to Halic (Golden Horn). There are circumcision chamber where the circumcision ceremonies of the princes (Shahzadah) were held, Baghdad Kiosk, Revan Kiosk and Iftariye Kermesi (where the evening meal of Ramadan is served) in Sofa-i Humayun.
Down to Sofa-i Humayun you can enter the Tulip Garden called as Lala through a 3-meter staircase. There are the constructions called as Hekimbasi Kulesi (Chief Physician Tower) and Sofa Kiosk in this garden. At the last place down from Lala to Marmara Sea Sofa Mosque, Mecidiye Kiosk and Garment Chamber are positioned.
Derived from Arabic word harim and meaning private, personal and individual; Harem is a living space where the sultans maintained their lives with their wives at Topkapi Palace. Named as Harem Chamber this space is an interesting and important construction that has the architectural features of various ages from the sixteenth century in which it was constructed to nineteenth century. Constructed on the backyard of the second atrium in Topkapi Palace the seraglio was always extended as it did not meet the needs for three centuries. Topkapi Palace has the most interesting architectural features in terms of the seraglio among the other palaces influenced by Islam culture and reached today. The seraglio was separated from all of the other sections in the palace by being isolated by high walls. Except Sultan, Sultana (mother of the Sultan), Eunuchs and people residing at the Seraglio no one else can enter into the Seraglio from outside.
Before the completion of Topkapi Palace whose construction order was given by the Conqueror of Istanbul Fatih Sultan Mehmet, the Old Palace in today’s Beyazit district had been used as Harem. But according to a rumor it has been assumed that a Harem Chamber with a size that could meet the need had been constructed in the construction called as Women’s Palace or Saray-i Duhteran at the location called as Golden Path at that period. Due to the reasons like excessive organizing and structuring the Harem Chamber which needs to be examined closer in the four construction period was moved to the Harem in Topkapi Palace with the request of Yavuz Sultan Selim’s son Sultan Suleyman’s wife Haseki Hurrem Sultan and continued its existence here till eighteenth century.
There are more than 300 rooms, one hospital, 9 baths, two mosques, and wards for the slaves and a laundry room in the Harem Chamber at Topkapi Palace. Allowed to be visited by the visitors now, the Harem Chamber has taken the shape it is in today after many renovations and repairs. The Harem Chamber consists of lots of atriums forming a single file in terms of construction. The reason for lots of atriums is the wish to separate the servants’ rooms, kiosks, wards and similar constructions from each other.
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