Thursday, July 27, 2017


Sultanahmet, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'22.1"N 28°58'29.7"E / 41.006126, 28.974911

Turkish And Islamic Arts Museum photo turkislamart_museum106.jpg


The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (Turkish: Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi) is a museum located in Sultanahmet Square in Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. Constructed in 1524, the building was formerly the palace of Damad İbrahim Pasha, who was the first grand vizier to Süleyman the Magnificent, and husband of the Sultan's sister.

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Works and Arts, which contains a meaningful collection of Turkish/Islamic Works, welcomes its visitors in the historical Ibrahim Paşa Palace located in Sultanahmed Square after having moved there on May  22nd, 1983. At first, it was established as the Evkaf-ı İslamiye Museum (The Islamic Foundations Museum) in the Darüzziyafe (a soup kitchen during the 16th century) within the Süleymaniye Mosque Complex in 1914. After the proclamation of the Republic in 1923, it took the name “Museum of Turkish and Islamic Works and Arts”.

The museum has been moved to İbrahim Pasha Palace from the soup kitchen building in 1983. Ibrahim Pasha Palace, which is one of the most important samples of the 16th century Ottoman civil architecture samples is on the stages of the historical hippodrome, the history of which goes back to the Roman Period. This building, the precise construction reason and date are not known, has been presented to İbrahim Pasha by Kanuni Sultan Süleyman in 1520, who would be his grand vizier for 13 years.

İbrahim Pasha Palace, which is claimed to be bigger and more magnificent than Topkapı Palace by the history has been the stage of many weddings, feasts and celebrations as well as rebellions and turmoil and called with the name of İbrahim Pasha after the death of this person in 1536. It has been used by other grand viziers, and had functions such as barracks, embassy palace, register office, Janissary band house, sewing workshop and prison.


The date of construction of the Ibrahim Pasha Palace is uncertain. Solakzade, a seventeenth century historian, notes that a palace was built here during the Sultan Bayezid II period (1481-1512). Palace documents record that Sultan Süleyman I repaired the Atmeydanı palace in 1521 for his grand-vizier and confidant Ibrahim Paşa, while archaeologist-historian Müller-Wiener claims that it was built atop the foundations of the hippodrome seats. Ibrahim Paşa was executed in 1536 and his assets reverted to the treasury's control.

Occupying a large part of the west side of the Hippodrome, but partly concealed by an ugly nineteenth-century building, are the remains of the vast palace of Ibrahim Paşa, built around 1520. Ibrahim Paşa was a Greek convert to Islam who became an intimate companion of Süleyman the Magnificent during the early years of his reign. In 1523, Ibrahim was appointed Grand Vezir and the following year he married Süleyman’s sister Hatice, at which time he was given this palace on the Hippodrome.

Some idea of the enormous wealth and influence which Ibrahim had at this time can be gained from even a casual view of the palace, the grandest private residence ever built in the Ottoman Empire, far greater in size than any of the buildings in Topkapı Sarayı itself. But the very magnitude of this wealth and power was the ultimate cause of Ibrahim’s ownfall.

The palace, which retained his name, became a government residence over the next two and a half centuries for a number grand-viziers (sadrazam), governor-generals (beylerbeyi), admirals (kaptanpaşa) and royal gun-bearers (silahdar) who had married into the royal family. A section of the palace housed the school and barracks of apprentice court pages (acemioğlanları) during this time.

Later in Süleyman’s reign, when he fell under the influence of his wife Roxelana, the Sultan was persuaded that Ibrahim must be eliminated, for he was taking on the airs of royalty. And so one night in the year 1536, after having dined alone with the Sultan, as he had so often in the years of their intimacy, Ibrahim retired to an adjacent room in the Saray and was there murdered while he slept.

Immediately afterwards all of Ibrahim’s wealth and possessions were confiscated by the state, including the palace on the Hippodrome. For a time, Ibrahim’s palace seems to have been used as a dormitory and school for the apprentice pages in the Saray. The great hall, that part of the palace which fronts on the Hippodrome, was in Ibrahim’s time the Audience Room of the Grand Vezir, and afterwards it was probably the High Court of Justice.

The registry at the Topkapı Palace show repairs by head architects Mimar Sinan (1492-1588), Hasan Ağa and Sedefkar Mehmed Ağa (d.1622), and more repairs were conducted after the fires in 1652, 1660, 1755 and 1808 and after the 1675 earthquake. In late eighteenth century, the official registry (defterhane) and the headquarters of the royal band (mehterhane) were located at the building no longer used as a vezirial palace.

The derelict palace was occupied by a mental hospital, a lionhouse, a textile workshop and squatters in the following century and parts of it were torn down in 1939 to clear the site for a modern court house. The restorations to convert the palace into a museum finally commenced in 1966 and lasted fifteen years. The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, originally founded in 1914, re-opened at the Ibrahim Pasa Palace in 1984 and is open to visitors at this location.

The vezirial palace, reported by travelers to be grander in scale than the royal palace of Topkapı, extended for about 140 meters along Atmeydanı or the Roman Hippodrome, varying from 50 to 75 meters in depth. It consisted of four courtyards of varying size and elevation, three of which were lined up along Atmeydanı, oriented southwest-northeast. Built of brick and stone, the Ibrahim Pasha palace is the only aristocratic residence remaining from the sixteenth century when Atmeydanı was surrounded by many such palaces built primarily of wood.

It hosted many royal celebrations, such as the circumcision ceremonies of Ottoman princes and marriages, beginning with the fifteen-day marriage of grand-vizier Ibrahim Pasha to Sultan Süleyman I's sister in 1524. Illustrated accounts of these events, such as the Book of Festivals (Surname) depicting the circumcision of Sultan Murad III's sons in 1582 and gravures by foreign travelers such as Melling in late eighteenth century, provide us with clues regarding the original appearance of the palace and its surroundings.

After passing through the entrance lobby, one enters the northeast corner of the great central courtyard; this has been restored very attractively, with marble paving around a garden and with a balcony overlooking the Hippodrome. Part of the north wing has been fitted out as an old-fashioned Istanbul coffee-house, an ideal place to relax before or after seeing the exhibits in the museum.

The entrance into the palace was through the first courtyard, a square court enclosed by the walls of the surrounding courtyards, opening out to Atmeydanı on the forth. From here, stairs led up to the large second courtyard on the left, where the state apartments were located and a passageway connected to the smaller third courtyard to the right, which also had its own gate on Atmeydanı.

The fourth courtyard was located behind the first and the third and may have been used to house the harem. The second, third and forth courtyards were enveloped by the walls of wide vaulted corridors on all or three sides, which carried rows of rooms above that looked onto the courtyard through a continuous gallery. A tall corridor placed between the second and forth courtyards with heavy gates on either side is thought to be the treasury.

Although three out of the four courtyards have survived to our day, the second courtyard, which houses the museum, is the only one that retains its original design. The Ottoman land registry, still in use today, was housed in a three-story nineteenth century structure built in the first courtyard and expanded to its larger building erected in front of the first and the third courtyards in 1908.

The third courtyard, obscured by the Land Registry building and cafés, houses the courthouse archives. The dilapidated forth courtyard was torn down hastily in 1939 to make room for a new courthouse, even though the project later, which spans the whole length of the palace, would have accommodated it. Rooms off the second and forth courtyards must have commanded great views in this direction, where the hill descends towards the Golden Horn across Çemberlitaş.

The second courtyard, or state apartments, was built on a terrace elevated on the ruins of the hippodrome seats. The terrace, about seven and a half meters higher than Atmeydanı, is retained by thick walls with buttresses and a deep vaulted gallery along Atmeydanı, which has the museum entrance. A continuous vaulted corridor envelops three sides of the courtyard, which opens out to the Atmeydanı with a wooden gazebo on the fourth side.

Entered from a single door on the side, the corridor is lit with large grilled windows placed in each bay. Above, the northeast and northwest wings have a series of rooms that are entered through a now englazed arched gallery that faces the courtyard. The rooms facing Atmeydanı are larger and covered with vaults, while all rooms are equipped with furnaces whose chimneys animate the roof. The upper floor of the southwest wing is occupied by the great hall (divanhane), which has a stone balcony (şahnişin) on Atmeydanı.

Before going through the galleries, one might pause to survey the structure of the palace. What one sees here is the main part of the original palace of Ibrahim Paşa. In addition to this there was another section of almost equal size adjoining the present structure to the north-west, apparently an enormous han-like edifice, which has vanished except for the wing nearest the Hippodrome.

The most important part of the present structure is the great hall, which takes up most of the upper level of the south wing on the side overlooking the Hippodrome; this would have been Ibrahim Paşa’s Hall of the Divan, and the two large rooms to its west would have been antechambers to this. The long western or inner side of the palace on the upper floor has at its rear a row of 13 cell-like cubicles opening onto a long corridor with a stone sofa overlooking the garden.

This corridor turns the corner to pass along the north wing, which is only half as long as the south wing, with five cells along the inner side and a sixth overlooking the courtyard. The southern end of the corridor here is connected with the coutyard by a stairway, the entrance below being through a foyer with a great round-arched entryway.

The lower level of the palace around the courtyard consists of a series of splendid vaults, supported by a single row of piers in the north and south wings, creating two aisles, while in the south wing there is a triple row of piers, one row engaged in the walls on the courtyard side, thus creating three aisles there. Some of these vaults are used to house the ethnographical collection of the museum, while the other exhibits are on the upper level of the palace.

Its wooden roof, which is attached with bowed braces to the courtyard façade, and the wooden roof of its balcony were built during the restoration based on sixteenth century miniatures depicting the palace. The great hall, larger than the corresponding audience hall at Topkapı, was the court of justice of the grandvizier. There is no trace left of the interior decoration of the state apartments which house museum exhibits today.


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