As already mentioned at the beginning of the blog, Topkapi Palace was surrounded by 2km long Byzantine walls on the seaward side and 1400m long Turkish walls on the landwards side.
Next, I want to present to you some bygone neighbouring environs of Topkapi Palace Museum. These buildings are not mentioned very often, and they no longer exist, even in part. I refer to the gates and “köşk” (pavilions), which encircled the palace wall.
The following described shore palaces, which were summer residences situated along the Bosphorus, the imperial boats, and the arsenal of Topkapi Palace, as well as the listed gates, were guarded by the military for as far as “Bostancı”. They are divided into two groups. They can be found on the plan on page 96.
1- Those structures situated alon the sea walls of the palace:
Yalı köşk (Shore Pavilion)
This beautiful pavilion, which was built by the architect “Sinan” and dates from the 15th century, used to stand on the Golden Horn in the neighbourhood of the present railway station. Unfortunately it was demolished during the construction of the track for the Orient Express.
From the paintings of European artists we see it as an attractive building surrounded by a colonade, whose columns support a wide roof and a delicate dome. The pavilion was magnificent and its walls were decorated with Iznik tiles dating from the 16th century.
The festivals of the Ottoman navy were always celebrated from this pavilion. Also, on the departure of the fleet for a naval battle, the admiral took leave of the sultan from here. It was also at this pavilion that the admiral was received on the return of the fleet.
This pavilion still stands at the mouth of the Golden Horn in the Bosphorus. It was a shore pavilion and boathouse. This two-storeyed building was built during Sultan Ibrahim’s reign in 1647 and was renovated a few years ago. On its 1647 and was renovated a few years ago. On its seaward side it has a long balcony. “Yalı Köşk”, which is not in existence today, used to stand next to it.
Topkapi Sahil Sarayı
During the Ottoman era a row of pavilions and palaces such as this one used to stand alond the shores of the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. Most of these buildings don’t exist today.
This pavilion which was built for Sultan Murat III, used to stand on the wall by the Sea of Marmara. Unfortunately it does not exist anymore.
Gate of Topkapi
This gate used to stand along the sea walls of the palace near the Topkapı Sea Palace at Seraglio Poit.
It does not exist anymore.
Gate of Balıkhane
This was a rather grand gate along the Sea of Marmara in the Byzantine wall. The fisherman of the palace used to put their nets out from this gate. It does not exist anymore.
2- Those structures situated along the land walls of the palace:
This pavilion which was located to the southwest of the palace in the land walls, was built in the place of an older one in 1809. It suports a bulbous dome. It is the only palace building which has windows opening towards the street side. It is situated opposite the “Sublime Porte” (Bab-ı Ali), the official residence of the grand viziers. Through its windows, the sultan watched parades, the march past of the soldiers, and various other processions depicting different professions, that continued a whole day long. On such occasions a lot of people gathered here to greet their sultan. Hence it is also called “Selam Köşkü”
This was the main gate of the palace. It is situated behind St. Sophia. Today one passes to the palace parking lot through this gate.
Sultan Ahmet Çeşmesi
This large and interesting fountain is situated in front of the imperial gate “Bab-ı Hümayun”. It is the most beautiful one of its kind in Istanbul, and was erected by Sultan Ahmet III in rococo style in 1723. The square marble structure with bronze-gilt alcoves has an overhanging roof surmounted by five small domes, one in the centre and the others at the four corners.
Soğuk Çeşme Sokak
This street lies opposite the fountain of Ahmet III. The picturesque old wooden houses are built in a row, and lean against the outer wall of Topkapi Palace. It was restored a few years ago by the Turkish Automobile Association, and some of the houses have been put into use as hotels.
On this street, there is an underground cistern dating from the Byzantine era. It was restored together with the houses, and today, has been turned into an interesting high class restaurant. There is an attractive coffee house and an underground bar in a courtyard opposite the restaurant.
At the beginning of 1900 a library (Istanbul Kitaplığı), consisting of various books about Istanbul was opened on this street.
At the beginning of the street is the back gate of St. Sophia, through which the sultan went to his lodge for Friday prayers.
“Demir Kapı” (The Iron Gate)
This gate, a side gate of the palace, stands to the west, between “Alay Köşkü” and “Yalı Köşk”.
“Otluk Kapı” (The Fodder Gate)
This is another side gate of the palace. It stands between the gate of “Bab-ı Hümayun” (see page 100) and the Sea of Marmara
Through the outer gardens of the palace
Following the path leading to the earlier mint (Darphane), we leave the first court of the palace by passing through the “Kız Bekçiler Kapısı” (Gate of Girl Guardians). On both sides of this path Roman and Byzantine marble sarcophagi are displayed.
Just on the right of the path are a group of museums to visit.
The Archaeological museum
This exceptional museum was established the printer “Osman Hamdi Bey” during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit II in 1896. Today it houses one of the largest collections in the world. The sarcophagi (such as the famous sarcophagus of the mourning women), tombs, statues, busts of emperors, reliefs and others are all on exhibit here.
Museum of the Ancient Orient
This museum which was built in 1883, and was reopened after re-organisation in 1974, exhibits findings from the civilisations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Babylon, as well as those of the Assyrians, Summerians and Hittites.
The tiled Pavilion (Çinili Köşk)
In 1472, Sultan Mehmet II had this small pavilion built as a pleasure pavilion outside the palace Today it is knowns as “Çinili Köşk” (Tiled Pavilion), and houses very enteresting collection from the Seljuk era, especially the ceramics and tiles of that period.
Just next to it, is a tea garden, where you can have a short rest your visit.
When you continue following the road down you reach the gate, “Soğuk Çeşme Kapısı” (the Gate of the Cold Fountain) (see plan on page 96) This gate is the entrance to “Gülhane Park” today. Next to it is the “Alay Köşkü”
This park was once part of the outskirts of Topkapi Palace. Today it is a typical Turkish public park, which is not only for picnics and walks, but also for public festivals.
Just after the park entrance there is a small zoo on the left-hand side. Continiuing agead in the direction of the sea stands the so-called “Column of the Goths” on the right, which is a 15m high granite monolith with a Corinthian inscription. Although the column is among the oldest monuments of the city it is little known. It received its name from the epigraph on its socle which commemorates the victory of Kaiser Cladius II over the Goths. Where the park ends on the seaward side in “Sarayburnu” (Seraglio Point), you will see the first standing statue of “Mustafa Kemal Atatürk”, sculpted in 1926 by Austrian sculptor, “Krippel”. From here, one has a very beautiful panaroma of the Bosphorus and the harbour.
A visit to the coffee house close by is worth-while.
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