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Topkapi Palace

TOPKAPI PALACE

TOPKAPI PALACE. The palatial complex built by the Ottoman Turkish sultan Mehmed II (ruled 14441446 and 14511481), completed in 1465, Topkapi occupied the site of the ancient acropolis of Byzantium at the northeastern tip of the Istanbul peninsula. Designed as the administrative center of a highly centralized imperial polity and as a royal residence, the Topkapi was inhabited by the Ottoman dynasty until the 1850s.

Located within a walled enclosure, Topkapi was built around three consecutive courtyards, each of which was entered through a monumental ceremonial gate. The layout and architecture of the structure were determined by several factors: notions of imperial seclusion, which underlined the divine and absolute authority of the sultan, and division of the structure into outer (public) and an inner (private) spaces, with strict rules governing the uses of all rooms and spaces. The administrative buildings in the second court, the council hall, the chancery, and the public treasury housed the government offices; architecturally these spaces bespoke the administration of justice by the sultan's extended household. Beyond the northern gate lay the inner palace, which featured the sultan's audience hall, the palace school and the dormitories for pages, a mosque, the privy chamber, and a treasury-bath complex where a lofty gallery offered spectacular views of the city. Lacking a strictly axial, geometric layout, Topkapi conveyed messages of imperial power through the use of symbolic elements such as the monumental gates and the belvedere tower, through the strictly codified and hierarchical use of space, and through rooms that commanded sweeping views, reflecting the monarch's dominion over the territories of the empire.

The main layout of Topkapi changed little throughout the following centuries. Nevertheless it became a repository of styles that reflected the changes in tastes and structure of the Ottoman house. The privy chamber was remodeled after 1517, to house the relics of the prophet Muhammad and his companions brought to Istanbul following the Ottoman conquest of Egypt. The expansions of the harem section during the reigns of Suleiman and Murad III corresponded to the royal family's move into the palace and to the growing role of women in the political realm. New kiosks and seaside residences were built beyond the central core, and former ones were replaced with more lavish structures, from the later sixteenth century onwards. In 1719 Ahmed III built a library in the third court, to house the palace's manuscript collection. The eclectic and westernized taste of the eighteenth century was reflected in the extensive redecorations of this period. After being converted to a museum in 1924, Topkapi now also houses the palace archives and library.

See also Constantinople ; Mehmed II ; Ottoman Empire ; Suleiman I .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Çiğ, Kemal, Sabahattin Batur, and Cengiz Köseoğlu. The Topkapi Saray Museum: Architecture, the Harem and other Buildings. Translated and edited by J. Michael Rogers. Boston, 1988.

Necipoğlu, Gülru. Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power: The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1991.

Sözen, Metin. Topkapi. Istanbul, 1997.

ÇIĞDEM KAFESCIOĞLU

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"Topkapi Palace." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Topkapi Palace." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved June 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/topkapi-palace

Topkapi Palace

TOPKAPI PALACE

Governmental seat of the Ottoman Empire.

The New Palace (Saray-Cedid), now known as the Topkapi Palace (in reference to the eighteenth-century royal summer residence next to the seaside Cannon Gate), occupied the site of Byzantium's ancient acropolis in what was then the city of Constantinople (now Istanbul). Enclosed by protective walls, the Topkapi Palace stood in the middle of a vast woodland. It served for nearly four centuries as the principal center of governance for the entire Ottoman Empire.

The administrative functions of the government were located in the outer (birun) court of the fortress-palace, and the inner (enderun) court included space for the royal pavilions and the palace school. The quarters for the sultan's pages surrounded the inner court; the harem quarters were behind its northern wall, overlooking the section of Istanbul known as the Golden Horn.

The Topkapi Palace lost its importance when the court moved to the Dolmabahçe Palace in 1854. After that date, aside from certain ceremonial occasions involving the holy relics of Islam (kept in the privy chamber), it hardly ever was used. Since its renovation in the 1930s, the Topkapi Palace has been a museum.


Bibliography


Necipoğlu, Gülrü. Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power: The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. New York: Architectural History Foundation, 1991.

aptullah kuran
updated by eric hooglund

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Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace the former seraglio or residence in Istanbul of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, last occupied by Mahmut II (1808–39) and now a museum.

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"Topkapi Palace." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Topkapi Palace." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved June 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/topkapi-palace