Sunday, December 25, 2016


Gülhane, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'40.1"N 28°58'40.8"E / 41.011140, 28.977991

Bab-i Ali Gate / Gulhane - Istanbul photo babiali_gate107.jpg


The ornamental crown gate in Alemdar Street opening to İstanbul is a synecdoche for the Ottoman Empire, referring to the High Gate of the Divan (court). In the beginning, the structure used to be called ‘Pasha Gate’ or ‘Bâb-ı Âsafi’.

A block beyond the mosque we come to Alemdar Caddesi, the avenue which skirts the outer wall of Topkapı Sarayı. Just to the left at the intersection we see a large ornamental gateway with a projecting roof in the rococo style. This is the famous Sublime Porte, which in former days led to the palace and offices of the Grand Vezir, where from the middle of the seventeenth century onwards most of the business of the Ottoman Empire was transacted.

Hence it came to stand for the Ottoman government itself, and ambassadors were accredited to the Sublime Porte rather than to Turkey, just as to this day ambassadors to England are accredited to the Court of St. James. The present gateway, in which it is hard to discover anything of the sublime, was built about 1843 and now leads to the various buildings of the Vilayet, the government of the Province of Istanbul. The only structure of any interest within the precinct stands in a corner to the right of the gateway.

This is the dershane, or lecture-hall of an ancient medrese; dated 1565, it is a pretty little building in the classical style of that period. The Sublime Porte, also known as the Ottoman Porte or High Porte (Ottoman Turkish: Bâb-ı Âli or Babıali, from Arabic: bāb "gate" and Arabic: alī "high"), is a metonym for the central government of the Ottoman Empire, by reference to the gate giving access to the block of buildings that housed the principal state departments in Istanbul. Today, the buildings house the provincial Governor of Istanbul.

Porte is French for "gate". When Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent sealed an alliance with King Francis I of France in 1536, the French diplomats walked through the monumental gate or Bab-ı Ali in order to reach the Vizierate of Constantinople, seat of the Sultan's government. French being the language of diplomacy, the French translation Sublime Porte (the adjective being unusually placed ahead of the word to emphasise its importance) was soon adopted in most other European languages, including English, to refer not only to the actual gate but as a metaphor for the Ottoman Empire.

"Sublime Porte" was used in the context of diplomacy by Western states, as their diplomats were received at the porte (meaning "gate"). During the second constitutional era of the Empire after 1908 (see Young Turk Revolution), the functions of the classical Divan-ı Hümayun were replaced by the reformed Imperial Government, and "porte" came to refer to the Foreign Ministry. During this period, the office of the Grand Vizier came to refer to the equivalent to that of a Prime Minister, and viziers became members of the Grand Vizier's cabinet as government ministers.


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