Saturday, October 7, 2017


Sultanahmet, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'46.2"N 28°59'05.7"E / 41.012837, 28.984902

Third Courtyard


GPS : 41°00'46.7"N 28°59'03.8"E / 41.012967, 28.984399


A foundation library bestowed to the benefit of the Enderûn Palace School students was built by Sultan Ahmet III (1703-1730), replacing the former Pool Pavilion. The Arabic poem in six verses inscribed on the main gate of this building, which is the first library established on the Palace premises, situated in the centre of the Enderûn Courtyard. It is explained in the epigraph that Sultan Ahmet III had this dwelling, destined to collect books, built at his own expense as a good deed to serve the lofty ideal of encouraging the learning of science.

The Neo-classical Enderûn Library (Enderûn Kütüphanesi), also known as Library of Sultan Ahmed III (Sultan Ahmed III Kütüphanesi), is situated directly behind the Audience Chamber (Arz Odası) in the centre of the Third Court. It was built on the foundations of the earlier Havuzlu kiosk by the royal architect Mimar Beşir Ağa in 1719 on orders of Sultan Ahmed III for the use of the officials of the royal household. The colonnade of this earlier kiosk now probably stands in front of the present Treasury.

The library is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture of the 18th century. The exterior of the building is faced with marble. The library has the form of a Greek cross with a domed central hall and three rectangular bays. The fourth arm of the cross consists of the porch that can be approached by a flight of stairs on either side. Beneath the central arch of the portico is an elaborate drinking fountain with niches on each side.

The construction has been extended through iwans on its three sides. The exterior façade is marble coated. It is surrounded by two fountains, one on the building side, and the other on the courtyard side. Sultan Ahmet III Library Fountain is in front of the Sultan Ahmet III Library the third courtyard of Topkapı Palace. It was built by Sultan Ahmet III in 1719.

The domes and vaults are ornamented with vegetal motifs manufactured through the malakâri - decorative plasterwork - technique characteristic of the Tulip Era. Window and door wings are ivory inlaid with classic geometrical patterns. Window and door frames are covered with 17th Century concatenated tiles; ceilings are stone inlaid with geometric figures, such as the Baghdad and Revan Pavilions. Silver wire caged built-in book cabinets are located between the windows.

The building is set on a low basement to protect the precious books of the library against moisture. The walls above the windows are decorated with 16th - 17th century İznik tiles of variegated design. The central dome and the vaults of the rectangular bays have been painted. The decoration inside the dome and vaults are typical of the so-called Tulip Era. The books were stored in cupboards in the walls. The niche opposite the entrance was the private reading corner of the sultan.

The library contained books on theology, Islamic law and similar works of scholarship in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic and Persian. In those days the library contained more than 3,500 manuscripts. Some are fine examples of inlay work with nacre and ivory. Today these books are kept in the Mosque of the Ağas (Ağalar Camii), which is located next to the library in the western direction. One of the important items is the so-called Topkapı manuscript, a copy of the Holy Koran from the time of the third Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan.

The library’s book collection consisting of books originating from the private treasure of Sultan Ahmet III, and the books endowed by Sultan Abdülhamit I and Sultan Selim III was conserved here, date after which it was integrated into the collection of the Palace Library.

In 1928 the books of the Enderûn Library amongst other works were moved here as the Palace Library (Sarayı Kütüphanesi), housing a collection of about 13,500 Turkish, Arabic, Persian and Greek books and manuscripts, collected by the Ottomans. Located next to the mosque to the northeast is the Imperial Portraits Collection.


Enderûn (meaning "inner most") was the “selâmlık” portion reserved for men, of the private compartment of the palace. It was also called the “Harem-i Hümâyûn” together with the Harem where the Sultan lived with his family. Beyond the Gate of Felicity is the Third Courtyard (III. Avlu), also called the Inner Palace (Enderûn Avlusu), which is the heart of the palace, where the sultan spent his days outside the harem.

The Enderûn Courtyard which took form during the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmet - the Conqueror - (1451-1481), consists of the patio where the Sultan’s pavilions are located, the marble terrace called Sofa-i Hümayun (Imperial Hall) harbouring the Sultan’s mansions and the flower garden. That courtyard contains as well the dwellings of the Enderûn School, destined to the education of the youngsters recruited via Devşirme - a system of recruitment of youngsters of foreign background for serving the Ottoman Empire.

It is a lush garden surrounded by the Hall of the Privy Chamber (Has Oda) occupied by the palace officials, the treasury (which contains some of the most important treasures of the Ottoman age, including the Ottoman miniatures, the Sacred Trusts), the Harem and some pavilions, with the library of Sultan Ahmed III in the center. Entry to the Third Courtyard was strictly regulated and off-limits to outsiders.

The third Courtyard (Enderun) formed by the dormitories and the structures belongs to the Sultan. Hall of Audience where Sultan accepts viziers and ambassadors, Enderun Library which was constructed by the Sultan Ahmed III, Treasury of Enderun also known as Conqueror’s Pavilion, Privy Room (Chamber of Sultan) and the Aghas’ Mosque which was constructed for the Enderun aghas at the reign of Fatih are the important structures of this courtyard. Courtyard is surrounded by the Big and Small Room Wards, Expeditionary Force Ward, Pantries’ Ward, Treasure Ward and the Privy Room Ward which added to the Privy Room at the 19th century.

The Third Courtyard is surrounded by the quarters of the Ağas (pages), boys in the service of the sultan. They were taught the arts, such as music, painting and calligraphy. The best could become Has Odalı Ağa (Keepers of the Holy Relics of Muhammad and personal servants of the Sultan), or even become officers or high-ranking officials.

Enderûn was the term used in the Ottoman Empire to designate the "Interior Service" of the Imperial Court, concerned with the private service of the Ottoman Sultans, as opposed to the state-administrative "Exterior Service" (Birûn). Its name derives from the location of the Sultan's apartments in the inner courts of the Topkapı Palace; its head was the Kapı Ağası.

The Inner Service was divided into four departments. In descending order of importance, these were the Privy Chamber (Hass Oda), the Treasury (Hazine), the Privy Larder (Has Kiler), and the Great and Little Chambers. Among the responsibilities of the Inner Service was also the running of the palace school, where selected young Christian boys, gathered through the devşirme system (from the 17th century, however, Muslim boys were also admitted) were trained for the highest state offices. These boys served then as pages in the Inner Service, and were known as içoğlanı ("lads of the interior").

The Inner Service was also notable for its employment of deaf-mutes (dilsiz), at least from the time of Sulta Mehmed II, to the end of the empire. They acted as guards and attendants, and due to their particular nature were often entrusted with highly confidential assignments, including executions. Their number varied but they were never numerous; they had their own uniforms, their own heads (başdilsiz), and although many were literate, they also communicated in their own special sign language.

The Enderûn Institution, inspired from the state organization schemes of the Great Seljuk Empire and Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, functioned for centuries as the principal Ottoman establishment devoted to the education and training of the future members of the high-level state and military bureaucracy, where also the artistic skills of students in various fields were developed.

In the framework of the above-mentioned Devşirme system which existed from the first half of the 15th Century up until the end of the 17th Century, the Ottoman Sultans created a class of civil servants loyal to them, educated within the principles of the Islamic religion and Turkish culture. A group of the thus recruited pages were educated at the Palace as such and others were trained in the army.

They were eventually assigned to high ranking positions in the state apparatus following their schooling. From the 18th Century onwards, these high posts were occupied by native Turks.

During the initial phase, the youngsters were confided as pupils to a Turkish family where they learned Turkish and were brought up within the traditions and customs of Turkish society. Following that phase, they were sent to preparatory schools. The most gifted among them were then admitted into the classes of the Enderûn School.

There, the interns were studying in successive wards beginning from the Big Room and Small Room, continuing respectively through the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force (Seferli Koğuşu), the Pantry, Treasury and Privy Chamber wards. The students who were fulfilling symbolic tasks relevant to the function of each particular ward, had then the possibility to climb the ladder of public offices all the way up to the post of Grand Vizier (Greatest Minister holder of the Sultan’s imperial seal).

The Enderûn Courtyard is so structured as to highlight the Sultan’s buildings, like in other venues of the Palace. Dwellings used by the Sultan such as the Conqueror’s Pavilion, also called the Conqueror's Kiosk (Fatih Köşkü), the Privy Chamber, and the Pool Pavilion were situated in the centre and inner corners of the courtyard whereas the wards used by the students of the Enderûn School were located at its outer edges.

These wards opening up to the courtyard through their porches had an interior layout consisting of a small hall surrounded by the dormitories, the glass room and the baths. The Enderûn wards were lined up in a hierarchical order arranged according to the level of training classes. The Big and Small Room wards located on each side of the Gate of Felicity (Bâb-üs Saade) and the Ward of the Expeditionary Force (Seferli Koğuşu) established in the 17th Century after demolishing the Sultan Selim II Bath would constitute the lower rungs of the School of Enderûn.

While others are the Pantry, the Treasury and the Privy Chamber wards. The Privy Chamber Ward is known to be intertwined with the actual Privy Chamber. Also in this direction, there is the Mosque of the Ağas (Ağalar Camii). In the middle of the Enderûn courtyard was the Pool Pavilion which was demolished in the 18th Century and replaced by the Enderûn Library (Sultan Ahmet III Library).

The establishment of a new army in 1826 after the abolition of the Janissary Corps was also the occasion for the creation of a new education system. After this date, the Enderûn School and Institution began to lose of its importance.


The Enderun School was a palace school and boarding school mostly for the Christian millet of the Ottoman Empire, which primarily recruited students via devşirme, a system of the Islamization of Christian children for serving the Ottoman government in bureaucratic, managerial, and Janissary military positions. The Enderun School was fairly successful in creating the multicultural bureaucracy, which was reflected in the multicultural nature of Ottoman statesmen over the centuries.

The Enderun School functioned for academic and military purposes as well. Ideally the graduates were permanently devoted to government service and had no interest in forming relations with lower social groups. It was run by the "Inner Service" (Enderûn) of the Ottoman palace. The Enderun School's gifted education program has been called the world's first institutionalized education for the gifted.

The growth of Ottoman Empire is attributed and was dependent on the selection and education of statesmen. A vital component of Sultan Mehmet II's goal to revive the Roman Empire was to establish a special school to select the best youngsters within the Empire and to mold them for government. Sultan Mehmet II improved the existing palace school founded by his father, Sultan Murat II and established the Enderun Academy (Enderun) in Istanbul.

The third courtyard of the Topkapı Palace was surrounded by the Imperial Treasury, the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, and the buildings of the Palace School, which educated the top tier of students from Enderun as well as princes of the House of Sultan Osman. There were seven halls or grades within the Palace School, and within each hall there were 12 teachers responsible for the students' mental and academic development. Students wore special uniforms designated by their achievement level and additional buildings included the library, mosque, music conservatories, dormitories, and baths.

The Enderun system consisted of three preparatory schools located outside of the palace in addition to the one within the palace walls itself. There were 1,000-2,000 students in three Enderun Colleges, and about 300 students in the top school in the Palace. The curriculum was divided into five main divisions :

Islamic sciences; including Arabic, Turkish and Persian language education
Positive sciences; mathematics, geography
History, law, and administration: the customs of the Palace and government issues
Vocational studies, including art and music education
Physical training, including weaponry

At the end of the Enderun school system, the graduates would be able to speak, read, and write at least three languages, able to understand the latest developments in science, have at least a craft or art, and excel in army command as well as in close combat skills.

The graduation ceremony for students leaving the Enderun School was known as çıkma. The graduates themselves were referred as çıkma. The name çıkma literary means "leaving" or "pulling out". The pages were leaving Palace School and palace service to continue their training in the functional service. This "transferral" occurred every two to seven years, or after the accession of new sultan to the throne.

The successful graduates were assigned according to their abilities into two mainstream positions: governmental or science, and those who failed to advance were assigned to military. One of the most distinctive properties of the school was its merit system consisting of carefully graded rewards and corresponding punishments.


GPS : 41°00'47.8"N 28°59'06.7"E / 41.013278, 28.985194

Under the responsibility of the head of kitchen called Kilercibaşı (Chief Cook), Kilerli Koğuşu used to concern on cooking the sultans meals, preparing the sultans table and taking dinner service . After 1856 Enderûn fire in 1856, it was reconstructed as Hazine Kethüdalığı. Since 1960 it has been using as Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Müdüriyeti.


WEB SITE : Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate

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