Marble Terrace in 4th Court (click pic. to enlarge)
Iftariye Kameriyesi (1640)
Interior closets excellent examples of Turkish workmanship (click picture to enlarge)
The access to fourth court is beside the building containing the miniature collections. In this court there are a number of pavilions built by various Sultans. The "Bagdat" and the "Revan" Pavilions built by Murat IV are outstanding both in terms of architecture and interior design. Between the Bagdat and the Revan Pavilions is a marble terrace with a pool in the centre. The view from the terrace is looking over the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.
Built in 1635 by the architect Koca Kasim, Revan Pavilion is a small replica of the Baghdad Pavilion. The windows are decorated with a double line of mother -of -pearl and tortoise shell. The central brazier was a gift of the French King Louis XV, to Mahmut I. This room was also known as the Turban Room, as it was here that the sultanís turbans were kept.
On the way to Baghdad Pavilion, the heavily tiled outer wall of the Circumcision Room (16th century), and the lovely gilt - bronze baldachin (like an open kiosk) of Sultan Ibrahim called "Iftariye Kameriyesi" dating from 1640 where the Sultan used to broke his daily fasts during the Month of Fasting (Ramazan) at the sunset can be seen.
Bagdat Pavilion was built in 639 by the architect Koca Kasim. This pavilion is also eight sided, and surrounded by marble columns supporting a broad overhanging roof line, in a circular portico. Like the Revan Pavilion, the lower walls are marble and the upper walls are tiled. The mother - of pearl and tortoise shell inlay work are seen in the doors and window frames. The interior closets are excellent examples of Turkish workmanship. The wall spaces throughout are totally covered in tile. From the heavily decorated dome hangs a golf - leafed sphere. Seating divans are covered in velvet fabrics.
The Sofa Pavilion is either known as "Merdiven Kasri" or the Pavilion of Mustafa Pasha. It is in the centre of the fourth court and was built in the tulip gardens during the reign of Ahmed III. It is the only wooden pavilion of its kind.
Other buildings in this court are "The Mecidiye Pavilion", "Esvap Odasi" (Privy Wardrobe), and the Sofa Mosque. Mecidiye Pavilion of Sultan Abdulmecid is now used as a restaurant.
Interior view of Revan Pavilion (click pic. to enlarge)
Bagdat Pavilion (click to enlarge)
Bagdat Pavilion Interior
Harem Imperial Sofa
Fruit Room (click on pic to enlarge)
Chamber of princes
Harem can be visited by a door behind the Imperial Council Chamber in the second court. This part has over 300 rooms, terraces and halls, 9 Turkish baths, 2 mosques, an infirmary, dormitories and a laundry. Only a part of it is open to public. An extra charge is made for visiting Harem and groups of limited numbers are allowed to visit at a time. These are necessary to prevent damage to this section.
Before coming to Anatolia, Turks did not have harems. The concept of it came to Ottomans from the Byzantines. Harem in Topkapi Palace was the Sultan's family quarters. People always basically thought that in a harem there were hundreds of beautiful girls and the Sultan had fun with all of them. However, this was not the way it worked. There were certain rules of living in Harem. The women here also had very important influences on the political and economic affairs of the empire, with each one seeking to promote the interests of her own children.
Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) was the head of the harem. She had enormous influence on everything that took place here and on her son.
Girls were trained according to their talents from playing musical instruments to singing, dancing, writing, embroidery and sewing. Many parents in the country longed for their daughters to be chosen for the Harem.
Among the girls there were mainly four different classes: Odalik (servant), Gedikli (sultan's personal servants; there were twelve of them), Ikbal or Gozde (the Favourites who are said to have had affairs with the sultan), Kadin or Haseki Sultan (wives giving children to the sultan). When the Haseki Sultan's son ascended to the throne, she was promoted to Valide Sultan. This meant she becomes the most important woman in the Harem. After her, in order of importance came the sultan's daughters. Then came the first four wives of the sultan who gave birth to his children. The degree of importance among these women were in accordance with the age of their sons . They had conjugal rights and their own apartments. The Favourites also had their own apartments. But others slept in dormitories.
It should not be thought that women never went out. They could visit their families or just go for drives in covered carriages from which they could see out. They could also organize parties up on the Bosphorus or along the Golden Horn.
Security in the harem was provided by black eunuchs. "Kizlar Agasi" (Chief Black Eunuch) had the biggest responsibility. When a sultan died, the new sultan would bring his new harem which meant that the former harem was dispersed. Some were sent to the old palace, some stayed as teachers or some older ones were pensioned off.
Valide Sultan's (Queen Mother's) apartments, one of the principal reception rooms. (click pic to enlarge)
Mirisah Sultan's apartment in Harem (click on pic to enlarge)
If you have time and want to wander around some more, a narrow lane leading down the hill from the Haghia Eirene Church takes you to Gulhane Parki which was once part of the palace gardens. Halfway down the hills is the Cinili Kosk (Tiled Pavilion).
The Tiled Pavilion is the earliest building of Topkapi Palace, built by Fatih Sultan Mehmed. The striking tiles which covers the entire building still display strong traces of Seljuk Turkish art both in design and the predominance of blue and turquoise. Because of this reason this building has been transformed into a ceramics museum, where the finest examples of Turkish ceramics from the 12th century to the present day are on display. At the entrance to Gulhane Park is the "Alay Kosk" (Ceremonial Pavilion) dating from the reign of Mahmud II (1808-1839) who watched various parades and processions from this vantage point.
If you enter Gulhane Park and walk straight ahead, you will came to the Gothic Column, which is one of the Byzantine monuments, and thought to have been built in commemoration of a victory against the Goths at the end of the third century. Nearby are the ruins of an unidentified Byzantine building.
"Alay Kosk" Ceremonial Pavilion
spend less than a full day here then you wont be doing it justice. Depending on
your interests you could return a couple of times during a week and find
something else to delight with each tour.
Museum contact & visiting information:
Topkapi Palace Museum, 34400 Sarayii, Sultan Ahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 - 212 - 512 04 80 or +90 - 212 - 512 04 84.
Contact address for researchers :
Kultur Bakanligi Anitlar ve Muzeler Genel Mudurlugu,
II. Meclis Binasi, 06100, Ulus, Ankara.
Telephone: +90-312-310 4960
Fax: +90-312-311 1417
Map & Transportation info:
Air: Istanbul Ataturk Airport or Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport.
Rail: Train: Sirkeci Station.
Tram: Sultan Ahmet.
Road: Bus: Take the services to Sultan Ahmet from across Istanbul. Car: Use roads E80 or D100 from Ankara, Izmit or Greece.
However if you need to ask directions to anyone, ask it either as "Sultan Ahmet Area" or "Topkapi Sarayi" (meaning Topkapi Palace in Turkish) rather than just saying "Topkapi" because, there is another area - a large old bus station of the same name and this place is far away from the Topkapi Palace Museum. So be careful and enjoy :)
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