"Second Courtyard and Imperial Council ( Divan )" Topkapi Palace Tip by nicolaitan
Topkapi Palace, Istanbul: 277 reviews and 656 photos
During the Ottoman era, the Second Courtyard was devoted to issues of state and justice, receiving foreign dignitaries, and audiences with the sultan. Peacocks and gazelles roamed the grassy enclosure with tree-lined black pebble paths and rose gardens. Along the seaward wall is the site of the kitchens where up to 800 people worked every day preparing meals for the entire palace community of 4000 plus. The kitchens now house one of the largest collections of Asiatic porcelain in the world, upwards of 10000 Chinese and Japanese artifacts, open in part to the public. A collection of royal carriages is also housed in the Second Courtyard.
We chose to visit the Imperial Council building ( Kubbealti ) where the vezirs and other politicians gathered for debate on religious, political, and administrative issues. Foreign ambassadors received by the vizers were directed here. Also, wedding ceremonies for the sultan's daughters took place in this building. Kubbealti means 'under the dome' referring to the ceiling of the main hall of the Council. Rising above is the tallest building in the Topkapi palace, the Tower of the Justice, a strategic lookout over the harbor, but closed to the public now. The meeting hall site is one of the oldest, but fires led to many renovations over the years.
The exterior of the Imperial Council is strikingly ornate with multiple entrance doors ( image 1 ) to the two main chambers. The main debate room ( image 2) features high on the wall a golden grill. Behind the grill is a small room in which the sultan ( or his mother ) could listen in on the discussions without being observed. If the sultan rapped on the grill, the meeting was terminated. The second major room (image 3 ) features a fountain in the center where discussions could be held without fear of being overheard.
Ancient trees ( image 5 ) - the large trees lining the courtyard are centuries old. At one point, disease rotted out the interiors but enough remained for the trees to survive. Second trees, often figs, then grew and became intertwined with the originals.
Phone: +90 212 512 0480
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