Thursday, January 11, 2018


Sultanahmet, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'49.0"N 28°59'04.3"E / 41.013617, 28.984535

Third Courtyard


The second most important relic was the Holy Banner, also known as the Sacred Standard of the Prophet (Sancağ-ı Şerif, literally the Noble Banner). It is said to the banner of the Prophet Muhammad himself or at least originates from his time. The origins of how the Ottomans acquired it remain subject to dispute. The banner was first used in a battle against the Austrian Habsburgs in 1593 and again for a war in Hungary in 1594. The banner came into Topkapı by 1595. After Sultan Mehmed III took the banner and won the Siege of Eger in 1596, the banner became a victory symbol for the Ottoman forces.

The banner was sometimes carried to battles to encourage the troops and ensure victory. It would be taken out from its box by the sultan and affixed to a staff. He would carry it from the Chamber of the Holy Relics to the Throne Room while officials called out “Allah Akbar!” (God is great). After this, the banner was carried from the Throne Room to the Gate of Felicity and placed there. As sultans went less to battle and left it to their grand viziers, the grand vizier would receive the banner from the sultan in a ceremony in the Throne Room.

While grand vizier and the şeyhülislam stood in attendance, the sultan would kiss the Holy Banner and entrust it to his grand vizier with the words: "I entrust the Sacred Standard to you and you to God. May He be your helper!". After a battle, the banner would be returned the same way with the sultan carrying it back to the chamber and putting it into its box, while Koranic chants were read aloud and incense burned. The banner was also taken out when mutinies by Janissaries erupted in 1651 and the last time in 1826, to help qualm the situation.

This section of the palace is filled with the relics of the Prophet Mohammed brought here by Yavuz Sultan Selim I, upon the conquest of Egypt in 1517. The complex consist of a group of domed rooms. The walls of the double domed entry room are decorated with 16th century Iznik tiles. In addition to the tiles, the wood work of the doors and the display windows, and the central wishing pool give the area a special charm. This section’s central case exhibits the Prophet’s bamboo bow, and swords of the first four Caliphs and other religious leaders.

Directly opposite is the Door of Forgiveness brought to Istanbul by Murad III, during the reconstruction of the Kaaba in the courtyard of the Great Mosque in Mecca. Quotations from the Prophet, framed in gold attract the attention of the visitor. From here we enter to the left room. The dome of the room is in electric style, and the walls are decorated in 16th century tiles and further quotations of the Prophet. In the central case is what is reputed to be the oldest existing Koran, written on deer skin, and several cases in which have been kept the mantle of the prophet.

In addition, several locks from the entrance to the Kaaba are displayed. The golden cover displayed was once the cover of the Hacer-ül Esved stone, the black stone which "fell from heaven" within the Kaaba. Hanging from the ceiling are rain gutters belonging as well to the Kaaba.

As we leave this room, on the right we enter the first room. It is domed, tiled, and decorated with quotations from the Koran. In the central display case the personal holy effects of the Prophet Mohammed are exhibited. These effects include a letter in a gold case, soil from his grave, and several hairs from his beard, his footprint and some of his extracted teeth.

Turning to the left, we come upon the most holy section of the museum, the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle. The room is closed in behind wire screening. In its original use, this was the office of the sultans, used for daily affairs, and was converted to its present use with the move of the residence to the Dolmabahçe Palace.

Directly in from of the visitor is a Sterling Silver chest which has been the reposit of the holy effects for centuries, the chest itself a work of the father of the great Turkish traveler of ancient times, Evliya Çelebi. Beneath this, are two chests, one within the other, containing the mantle itself, made in the tile of Abdülaziz. Along side this are two swords belonging to the Prophet decorated in precious stones. Also in the room is the holy Standard of Mohammed, taken into battle on each occasion when the Ottoman armies took out on campaigns. After so much use, it is now kept, thread-bare, in a chest.

From here, passing through a door, we reach an open terrace surrounding a reflecting pool, alongside which stand the Revan Pavilion and the Baghdad Pavilion, both of which carry a distinctly Eastern Islamic architectural influence reflecting their having been built to celebrate the conquests of Persia (Revan) and Iraq (Baghdad).

Chests containing the Holy Mantle of Prophet Muhammad and the banner (Sancak-ı Şerif)
The gold chest containing the Holy Mantle
Swords belonging to the Prophet Muhammad
Letter of the Prophet Muhammad (Name-i Saadet)
Some hairs from the beard of the Prophet Muhammad (Lihye-i Saadet)
Casket containing the soil, from the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad
Reliquary containing the tooth of Prophet Muhammad (Dendan-i Saadet)
Lock of Kaaba
Casket containing soil from Kaaba
The footprint of the Prophet Muhammad


WEB SITE : Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 512 0480
Fax : +90 212 526 9840

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