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Topkapi Palace, Istanbul (Turkey, 1400s AD)

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul (Turkey, 1400s AD)

By the time the Ottoman sultans conquered Constantinople from the Roman emperors in 1453 AD,  the old palace of the Roman emperors was really very, very old. The Roman emperors had not been rich enough to build fancy palaces for hundreds of years. So the Ottoman emperors immediately started to build themselves a great new palace, which we now call the Topkapi. Work on the Topkapi palace began in 1459 AD.

The sultan put his palace on land which had been an old olive orchard. Like a Roman villa, or like Domitian’s palace in Rome, the palace had several open courtyards with rooms around them.

Tiled Pavilion (1472 AD)

Tiled Pavilion (1472 AD)

One part of the Topkapi palace was the Tiled Pavilion. The Tiled Pavilion was a smaller house. The Sultan took min-vacations there when he wanted to get away from everyone at court. Inside, the Tiled Pavilion is shaped like a cross. It has rooms in each arm of the cross and a small dome over the middle. Clay tiles with complicated patterns covered the walls. The Tiled Pavilion has a big porch in front. The Sultan could sit on this porch and watch his sons play polo in the courtyard.

When the builders finished building the Topkapi palace in 1465 AD, it was a magnificent palace. It was suitable for the sultan who ruled most of West Asia and Eastern Europe.

Learn by doing: playing polo
More about the Ottoman Empire

Bibliography and further reading about Ottoman architecture:

Umayyad Architecture
Abbasid Architecture
More Islamic architecture
More about the Islamic Empire home