Topkapı Palace (or the Seraglio) is a large museum located in Istanbul, Turkey. For more than 400 years, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters for the Ottoman Sultans. The palace was commissioned by Mehmed the Conqueror following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Construction of the palace began in 1460 and was completed in 1478.
The main gate to the Topkapı Palace is located to the rear Hagia Sophia. The palace grounds are divided into distinct four courtyards. The first courtyard is home to the Hagia Irene Church (which was used as an amoury). Additionally, a mint and a hospital were once located there.
Second courtyard, called Divan Square or Square of Justice, was once used for ceremonial activities including coronations, funerals and festivals. It was also the home to royal treasury, the dormitory of the halberdiers (guardians of the palace), the Privy Stables, the palace kitchens and the entrance to the royal harem.
Babüssaade (Gate of Felicity) connects Divan Square to the third courtyard called Enderun or the Inner Palace. In the Inner Palace, military officers (aghas) were educated and assigned to ranks within the state. It also hosted the dormitories and the personal structures for the Sultan including a reception hall, the Chambers of Sultan and the Aghas Mosque.
Inner Palace courtyard leads to the final courtyard called Imperial Sofa courtyard. The Imperial Sofa courtyard is home to the Marble Terrace, the Revan and Baghdat Kiosks, the Circumsision Room and the Iftaree Canopy. Below the Marble Terrace, there is a hanging flower garden which is flanked by Sofa Kiosk and the Tower of the Chief Physician. The Sofa Mosque, the Mecidiye Kiosk and Wardrobe Room are located to the Marmara side of this garden.
Topkapı Palace Palace was abandoned by the Ottoman Dynasty when the official royal residence was moved to the Dolmabahçe Palace in 1856. Topkapı Palace was designated as a museum on April 3, 1924 making it the first museum of the newly formed Turkish Republic.
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