Parts of Topkapi Palace:
Fourth Courtyard

Topkapi Palace has four courtyards. This is the fourth and last courtyard named as; "Imperial Courtyard" (Sofa-i Humayun)

As we are getting deeper the courtyards are getting more private. This courtyard was sultan's private domain where he spent his days. Entry to the Fourth Courtyard was strictly regulated and off-limits to outsiders.


Actually this is not a real courtyard. It is more of a combination of gardens on differrent levels, with terraces stepping down towards the view point that watches over the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait.

Terraces of the Imperial Courtyard (Sofa-i Humayun) of the Topkapi Palace obtained their current shape in the first half of the 17th century.

You will see the second terrace on your right and parallel to the sea, when you enter the Fourth Courtyard. It has one of the best views in the city. And strolling around the gardens will reveal wonderful examples of Ottoman architecture.

You will find this courtyard comforting with the nice sea-breezes on a hot summer day and the magnificient views. Watch the maritime traffic go by and imagine the seaside attacks on the palace walls during Byzantine Empire Era.

Back then, a giant chain was used to span the Golden Horn to prevent foreign ships entering the city.


Where exactly?

It is at the northernmost end of the Topkapi Palace complex. There is no significant gate leading here, like the other courtyards.

Exit the Third Courtyard down the stairs to the right through a long passage.

Imperial Courtyard (Sofa-i Humayun) consists of delicately landscaped gardens and elegantly decorated kiosks and pavillons surrounding them.

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Here is a list of these buildings:

1. Circumcision Room (Sunnet Odasi)

2. Revan Kiosk (Revan Kosku)

3. Iftar Pavillon (Iftariye Kameriyesi)

4. Baghdat Kıosk (Bagdat Kosku)

5. Sofa Kiosk (Sofa Kosku)

6. Tower of the Head Tutor (Baslala Kulesi or Hekimbasi Kulesi)

7. Mecidiye Kiosk (Mecidiye Kosku)

8. Wardrobe Chamber (Esvap Odasi)

9. Sofa Mosque (Sofa Camii)

10. Lower Gardens or Tulip Gardens (Alt Bahceler)


Topkapi Palace, Fourth Courtyard Plan


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And detailed info about these buildings:

1. Circumcision Room (Sunnet Odasi)

This room was used for the circumcision ceremonies of the sons of the Sultan and dates back to 1641.

Its interior and exterior are decorated with a mixed collection of rare tile. On the right side of the entrance stands a fireplace with a gilded hood. The tiled panel at the entrance of this room is one of the best in the palace.

The Kiosk is a symmetrically proportioned space. It has two rows of windows and the windows above are decorated with stained-glass panels.


Where exactly?

It is at the South-west end of the fourth courtyard.

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2. Revan Kiosk (Revan Kosku)

It was built to commemorate the conquest of the city “Revan” by Sultan Murad IV and it is dated back to 1636.

The Revan Kiosk is one of the finest examples of the classical Ottoman mansion style. It is a relatively small pavilion with a central dome and three apses.

The projecting eaves decorated with Iznik tiles, central dome and delicate woodwork in recessed cupboards and doors are worth seeing.


Where exactly?

It is at the South-west side of the fourth courtyard.

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3. Iftar Pavillon (Iftariye Kameriyesi)

This is a small, charming open space covered by a domed canopy in gilded bronze. Its covered with a gilded vault which is a first in Ottoman architecture.

It was built in 1640 for Sultan Ibrahim, to have his evening meal that ends the daily fast in Ramadan, after the sunset. And Sultans used it for a nice evening under the moonlight, hence the other name “Mehtaplik” (moonlit place).

The marbled terrace that Iftar pavilion is situated on reached its its current shape during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim (1640-48).

You might see a bunch of tourists taking photos here. And you will understand why when you get closer and see the view of the Golden Horn.


Where exactly?

It is at the far North side of the fourth courtyard, next to the Baghdat Kiosk (Bagdat Kosku).

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4. Baghdat Kiosk (Bagdat Kosku)

It was built in 1638 to commemorate of Sultan Murat IV.’s Baghdad Campaign. It was used as the library of the Privy Chamber starting from the mid-18th century.

This is an octagonal building with exquisite examples of the classical Ottoman decorative style on its dome, ceiling and walls.

It is decorated with Iznik tiles and stained glass. The kiosk is crowned by a dome with traditional Ottoman motifs in gold leaf. The interior is basically a good example of an ideal Ottoman room.

This pavilion is one of the last examples of the classical Ottoman palace architecture.

The marble panelling of the portico demonstrates Cairene Mamluk style. Door, cupboard and window panels are fine examples of inlay work decorated with mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell. There is a silver brazier (a present of King Louis XIV of France), in the middle of the kiosk.

There is a pool next to the Baghdat Kiosk and it has the advantage of wonderful views of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait.


Where exactly?

It is at the North-west corner of the Fourth Courtyard.

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5. Sofa Kiosk (Sofa Kosku)

It was originally used as a restroom for Sultan. He would watch sporting events and entertainments organised in the lower garden. And later, during the Tulip Era (1718-1730), it was used as a lodge for guests.

Sofa Kiosk (Sofa Kiosk) was built in the late 16th century. It was restored in 1704 by Sultan Ahmed III and rebuilt in 1752 by Sultan Mahmud I in the Rococo style.

It is the only wooden building in the Fourth Courtyard of Topkapi Palace.

The kiosk consists of one main hall called Divanhane, the Prayer Room (Namaz Odasi) and the Room for Sweet Fruit Beverages (Serbet Odasi).


Where exactly?

It is right next to the Tulip Garden and at the cente of the Fourth Courtyard.

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6. Tower of the Head Tutor (Baslala Kulesi or Hekimbasi Kulesi)

It was first built as a watch tower. Then housed the tutor of the Sultan and later served as the Sultan’s physician’s quarter and the first drugstore of the Topkapi Palace, hence the second name “Chamber of the Chief Physician” (Hekimbasi Kulesi).

There were other pharmacies and infirmaries at the Topkapi Palace.

This is the oldest building in the Fourth Courtyard, built in the 15th century. The infrastructure of this tower is believed to remain from Byzantine Era. It has small and few windows and has very thick walls, almost 2 metres.

After the royal family moved to Dolmabahce Palace, the tower was used for several purposes such as, a music conservatory, the cleaning of palace arms. Today it houses the medical objects collection used in the Topkapi Palace.

It overlooks the gardens where wretling contests topok place. The Sultan observed these contests from the picture window of the building.


Where exactly?

It is at the center of the fourth courtyard.

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7. Mecidiye Kiosk (Mecidiye Kosku)

This is the last kiosk added to the palace. It is dated back to 1840, the reign of Sultan Abdül Mecid. It was built as an imperial reception space.

Regarding the magnificent location and the panaromic view of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus Strait, I can understand why the Sultan ordered it.

The architect is Sarkis Balyan, a member of the Balyan family of architects. The building has an eclectic style, a mixture of classical Ottoman and European styles. Interior decoration is in the Empire style and a valuable Prezioski collection decorates the walls.

And surprise! The famous “Konyalı Restaurant” with its excellent Turkish Cuisine dishes, is here (at the basement of the Mecidiye Kiosk) for you to gain your energy back.

The view is magnificent! Take a look even if you don’t feel like eating…


Where exactly?

It is at the North-east corner of the Fourth Courtyard

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8. Wardrobe Chamber (Esvap Odasi)

This is where Sultan’s visitors changed their clothes before being accepted by the Sultan, or Sultan changed his clothes before his Holy Relic Section visit.

It was built at the same time with the Mecidiye Kiosk.


Where exactly?

It is the small building, located at the western side of the Mecidiye Kiosk.

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9. Sofa Mosque (Sofa Camii)

Sofa Mosque (Sofa Camii), was built under Sultan Mahmud II in the 19th century where the Kiosk of the Swordbearer (Silahdar Köşkü) used to stand. It was used by the corps of the Topkapi Palace, called “Sofa Ocagi”.


Where exactly?

It is the small building, located at the western side of the Mecidiye Kiosk.

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10. Lower Gardens or Tulip Gardens (Alt Bahceler)

It is surrounded by a marbe terrace and a wall in front of Sultan’s flat. These gardens were the place where the Sultan watched some games and races. They were the most significant gardens of the Topkapi Palace.


Where exactly?

They are at the North side of the fourth courtyard.

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