Whereist Ottoman Baroque Neo-Baroque

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Native name: Ahmet Cesmesi

Fountain of Ahmed was built by Sultan Ahmet III in 1728 . The fountain is the finest one in the city and reflects the rich cultural heritage of Istanbul . Each of the four fronts has one fountain , while two sides of it have niches . The corners are bulging towards outside in half a circle shape and are used as water dispensers . There are little oriel windows that are detailed with bronze grills . The roof is overhanging with wide fringes that are covered with lead and is supported by five domes , one central dome and four in the corners . There are many calligraphic details , tiles and beautiful patters decorating the walls of the fountain which adds up to the splendor of the structure .

It is one of the historical and magnificient fountains of Istanbul, which was built on the site of the previous Byzantine fountain called “Peryaton” by Sultan Ahmet III (1673-1736) in 1728. The fountain lies in front of Bab-ı Hümayun, the gate of the Topkapı Palace and overlooks the square due to its position in the center of the Ayasofya square.

The structure, which has a water reservoir in the shape of an octagonal prism located in its center, consists of sabils (public fountain) fitted on the corners of the water reservoir and water faucets fitted on its sides. The primary structure, which is placed on a floor with two stairs, features an aesthetic view of various architectural works, such as plant motifs, decorations, muqarnas (a three-dimentional decoration of Islam architecture), and palmets and it is supported with borders and niches used on the fountain. Moreover, the framed word of “Maşallah” (meaning may God preserve one from evil) written in calligraphy in medallion and real flower motifs drawn in the long vases carry spectacular display of artistry. A lead-covered wooden roof which constitutes the ceiling structure of the fountain was extended in all directions in order to protect it against the negative effects of sunlight and other environmental damage. The roof has an artistic value by getting free of simplicity with little domes on top of the fountain and decorations on wooden eaves.


The inscription on the fountain written with “talik hat calligraphy” is by Seyyid Hüseyin Vehbi bin Ahmed, a poet and judge of the cities of Kayseri and Aleppo which ends with praise for Allah (s.w.t): “Turn on the tap in the name of Allah (s.w.t), drink water and pray for Sultan Ahmed.” It is rumoured that the last verse of the inscription was said by Sultan Ahmed III and there is the signature of the Sultan Ahmed III at the end of the inscription.

This monumental fountain, which was built when Western influence was at its greatest point during the final period of the Ottoman architectural period shows the transition from Classical to Baroque architecture. It invites tourists, who come to Istanbul and have an opportunity to see the fountain, to journey back in time to the 18th century.


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Native name: Tophane Cesmesi

1732 by the architect Mehmet Ağa during the reign of Sultan Mahmud I. It is the tallest fountain in İstanbul, and with its ornaments on the walls, the inscription which covers all four walls, and the engraved eaves it makes a rare monument.

Tophane Fountain is located between Necati Bey and Tophane Streets , in Tophane Neighborhood of Beyoglu District , on the European side of Istanbul . It was built by Sultan Mahmut I in 1732 . The architect who designed it was Mehmet Ağa . This fountain is considered the third biggest fountain of Istanbul and the one with the highest walls . It also attracts attention with its large fringe and rich embossments . The decoration of the fountain reflects the transition from classical type to baroque style . The fountain’s wide eaves reflects baroque marks and aesthetic harmony of the sharp arched niches used in the classical period of Ottoman architecture . This structure was restored in 2006 and during this restoration works , the rich decorations of the fountain were enriched by 23 karat golden leaf with an area of 40 squared meters . The fountain was then opened again in a magnificent opening ceremony .

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Construction on the Nuruosmaniye Complex began in 1749 during the rule of Mahmud I (1730-1754) and was completed by his brother and successor Osman III (1754-1757) in 1755. It is located to the east of the covered bazaar and was built to replace the Mascid of Fatma Hatun, which burnt in a fire. In style, the complex is distinguished from its precedents with its adoption of baroque design elements and embodies the westernizing vision of Mahmud I. While there is little known about its architect, Simeon Kalfa, its construction is documented in detail by construction manager Ahmed Efendi in a booklet entitled “Tarih-i Cami-i Serif-i Nur-i Osmani”. The name Nuruosmaniye, or the Light of Osman, is thought to refer to Osman III and to a verse from the Sura of Al-Nur, “God is the light of the heavens and the earth”, which is inscribed inside the dome.

Nuruosmaniye Mosque

The Nuruosmaniye Mosque (Turkish: Nuruosmaniye Camii) is an Ottoman mosque located in the Çemberlitaş neighbourhood of Fatih district in Istanbul, Turkey. It is considered one of the finest examples of mosques in Ottoman Baroque style. It was built by architects Mustafa Ağa and Simon Kalfa from the order of Sultan Mahmut I and completed by his brother and successor Sultan Osman III. The architects adopted Baroque architectural elements, the mosque is also distinctive with the absence of an ablution fountain (Turkish: şadırvan). Nuruosmaniye Mosque is located near the entrance to the Kapalıçarşı (Grand Bazaar), Column of Constantine and the historical Atik Ali Paşa Mosque.

The mosque was constructed in Istanbul in Nuruosmaniye region, it was began in 1748 during reign of Mahmoud I, and, ended in the reign of Osman II in 1755, the architect of the mosque is Mustafa Aga.

The foundation of the structure was supported by belts because it was constructed on a spring. It has an inner courtyard and an outer courtyard. There are three doors in the inner courtyard, one in the middle, two on each sides. Inner courtyard is covered by nine domes, one in the middle and four on each side.

Beneath the gallery of minarets (Serefeler) there are horizontal tapes. Minaret spirals are made out of stone. It has five floors with 174 windows. The belts of these windows are arch shaped. On the dome, there are 32 windows. On each left and right sides of the altar there are a pulpit (mimber) made out of marble. Inner walls of landing (Sahan) is divided into three by two rowed thick and projecting cornices. All through the landing of the pulpit is “The Fatiha Sura” (a prayer of Koran) is carved in marbl.



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Statue of Pope Benedict XV in the courtyard of the cathedral.

The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, alternatively known as the St. Esprit Cathedral, Italian: Cattedrale di Santo Spirito, or Cattedrale dello Spirito Santo, located on Cumhuriyet Avenue, 205/B, Harbiye, between Taksim Square and Nişantaşı, is one of the main cathedrals of the Roman Catholic Church in Istanbul, Turkey.

It is the second largest Roman Catholic church in the city after the Basilica of S. Antonio di Padova on İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu.

The cathedral was built in Baroque style in 1846 under the direction of the Swiss-Italian architect Giuseppe Fossati and his colleague Julien Hillereau.

St. Esprit has been a destination of several papal visits to Turkey, including those of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI.

A statue of Pope Benedict XV stands in the courtyard of the cathedral.

Giuseppe Donizetti, a musician at the court of Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II, is buried in the vaults of the cathedral.


St. Esprit Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, in Harbiye. Just off a busy Istanbul street is located a humble, 19th century cathedral, hidden behind the walls of the French Notre Dame de Sion high school. Mass is held at 4 pm on weekdays and at 9 am and 11:15 am (in French) and at 10 am (in English) on Sundays. The cathedral is open to visitors during Mass.
While walking from Taksim toward Harbiye, some of you may have noticed a door with metal bars leading to the school’s courtyard, beyond which is a statue. Past the door stands the St. Esprit Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.
St. Esprit, second in size only to St. Anthony of Padua Cathedral on famous 0 stiklal Street, is one of the main Roman Catholic cathedrals in Istanbul. It was built by famous architect Gaspare Fossati under the direction of his colleague Julien Hillereau, another Italian architect. The site where the cathedral stands was chosen because the Vatican had decided to establish its “unofficial” office in Istanbul on the same street. This office today serves in an official capacity as Turkey and the Vatican agreed to establish mutual diplomatic representative offices in 1960.
Construction took one year, and the cathedral was completed in 1846. Financial difficulties led to poorer quality construction materials and, following an earthquake in 1865, the cathedral was badly damaged. Restoration began in June of the same year and the church was reopened for service a few months later, in December.
Architect Pierre Vitalis, with the help of another architect, was supposed to rebuild St. Esprit following the earthquake, but nothing came of this as Vitalis went into retirement. As a result, the cathedral’s rebuilding was led by Father Antoine Giorgiovitch, church sources say. According to historical sources, the church was designated a cathedral in 1876. It has undergone several restorations so far, receiving three new bells hammered in Fermo, Italy, in 1922 and having all its paintings restored by the late Bishop Antoine Marovitch in 1980.
Following the construction of the cathedral, the Christian community began settling nearby, according to historical sources. In other words, St. Esprit played a leading role in the Christian community moving beyond the Beyo lu (formerly known as Pera) and Galata areas, predominantly non-Muslim at the time. The cathedral’s administrative rights were given to Italian monks in 1989.
The architecture of the cathedral, which has a basilica plan with three naves, represents the Baroque style. Some art historians define the cathedral’s architecture as the revival of the early Christian basilica type. The main apse and the side apses have a square shape. The gallery rests upon columns separating the naves that line the two sides of the cathedral in rows.
The interior of the cathedral is beautifully decorated with frescoes. The richly decorated ceiling runs until the altar, situated just across the main door. The bell tower, at one of St. Esprit’s corners, overlooks Ölçek Sokak, which also goes by the name Papa Rocalli Street.
The rear of the cathedral has a second door, opening up to Papa Rocalli Street No: 82. This door leads to a staircase that takes you to various rooms in the cathedral as well as the main hall. Access through this door may be restricted, though there is a sign by the main outer door that reads “If you need to enter the cathedral, contact attendant at Ölçek Sokak, No: 82.” If you find yourself walking by St. Esprit, take some time to step inside this humble cathedral – even if you’re there outside of service times. Don’t forget to ring the bell, as the back door is normally closed.
St. Esprit’s courtyard houses a bronze statue of Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922), built by the Turkish state in 1922 in remembrance of his support for Turkish soldiers. The statue rests upon a stone pedestal with a plaque that reads: “Benefactor of all people, regardless of nationality or religion.” Pope Benedict XV presided over the Catholic Church between 1914 and 1922 and is known for his efforts to stop World War I.
Statue of Pope Benedict XV in the courtyard of the cathedral.The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, alternatively known as the St. Esprit Cathedral, Italian: Cattedrale di Santo Spirito, or Cattedrale dello Spirito Santo is one of the main cathedrals of the Roman Catholic Church in Istanbul. St. Esprit has been a destination of several papal visits to Turkey, including those of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI. A statue of Pope Benedict XV stands in the courtyard of the cathedral. Giuseppe Donizetti, a musician at the court of Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II, is buried in the vaults of the cathedral.
He also contributed to the establishment of a hospital on the Turkish-Syrian border where wounded Turkish soldiers were treated. The statue was cleaned by the İstanbul Greater Municipality in 2006 shortly before Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to İstanbul. Sultan Mehmet VI is believed to have contributed to the fund collected for the erection of the statue.
The cathedral’s burial vaults are said to be very imposing, although I did not have a chance to see them as they are not open to visitors. These vaults, designed with the construction of the cathedral and reached via corridors, house the remains of various members of the Catholic community of İstanbul, including nuns from Notre Dame de Sion and architect Hillereau himself.
Giuseppe Donizetti, the royal musician during the reign of Sultan Mahmut II, who invited him to İstanbul in the first place, is also buried in the vaults beneath the cathedral. He is known for the two military marches he composed for Sultans Mahmut II and Abdülmecit I: the “Mahmudiye March” and the “Mecidiye March.” Today, what remains of the Donizetti family’s archives, discovered in the 1970s, is preserved at the Topkapı Palace Museum library. Burials in the vaults of St. Esprit continued until the 1920s.
Who is Gaspare Fossati?
Gaspare Fossati was a Swiss-Italian architect working in İstanbul in the 19th century. He is known as the second European architect to come to Istanbul to work when Western-style buildings began to be popular and thus widespread across the city. He built many famous 19th century buildings, including the Russian Embassy, the Consulate of the Netherlands and St. Paolo di Pietro Church, located in Galata. Fossati also worked on the restoration of Ayasofya along with his brother Giuseppe Fossati.
Todays Zaman / St. Esprit Cathedral
Governorship Of Istanbul / Gallery
Wikipedia / St. Esprit Cathedral
Istanbul Photographs / St. Esprit Cathedral
These scripts and photographs are registered under Copyright 2009, Todays Zaman / St. Esprit Cathedral, Governorship Of Istanbul / Gallery, Wikipedia / St. Esprit Cathedral, Istanbul Photographs / St. Esprit Cathedral. All Rights Reserved.


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Rüstem Paşa mosque is the go to place for ceramics. It displays almost every pattern of ceramic artistry.

The first turning on the right beyond the Valide Hani takes us into Uzun Carsi Caddesi, the Avenue of the Long Market. This is the site of the city’s secondhand clothing market, where the poor of the city sell one another clothing. About half a kilometer down this street we come to the great Rustem Pasa Mosque, one of the most beautiful of the smaller mosques of Sinan.
Rustem Pasa Mosque - Istanbul

This mosque was built in 1561 by Rustem Pasa, twice Grand Vezir under Suleyman the Magnificent and husband of the Sultan’s favorite daughter, the Princess Mihrimah.

Rustem Pasa Mosque - Istanbul
The mosque is built on a high terrace over an interesting complex of vaulted shops, the rent from which went to maintain the foundation. Interior flights of steps lead up from the corners of the platform to a spacious and beautiful courtyard, unique in the city. The mosque is preceded by a double porch: first the usual type of porch consisting of five domed bays, and then, projecting from this, a deep and low-slung penthouse roof, its outer edge resting on a row of columns.


This arrangement is very pleasant and has a definite architectural unity. The plan of the mosque consist of an octagon inscribed in a rectangle; the dome rest on four semi domes, not in the axes but in the diagonals of the building; the arches of the dome spring from four octagonal pillars, two on the north, two on the south, and from piers projecting from the east and west walls. To north and south are galleries supported by pillars and by small marble columns between them.
Rustem Pasa Mosque - Istanbul

Rustem Pasa Mosque is especially famous for its very fine tiles, which almost cover the walls, not only on the interior but also on the fa�ade of the porch. One should also climb to the galleries where the tiles are of a different pattern.

Rustem Pasa Mosque - Istanbul
Like all the great Turkish tiles, those of Rustem Pasa came from the kilns of Iznik in its greatest period (c.1555 – 1620) and they show the tomato-red or ‘Armenian bole’, which is characteristic of that period. These exquisite tiles, in every conceivable floral and geometric design, cover not only the walls, but also the columns, mihrab, and member. Altogether they make one of the most beautiful and striking mosque interiors in the city.

The Rüstem Pasa Mosque is located above the Hasircilar Carsisi, the Weavers’ Market, in the Eminönü district next to the Golden Horn, in the Tahtakale neighborhood of Istanbul. To the west of the mosque is a cemetery, and a square was later added behind its qibla wall. As indicated by a four-line inscription, the mosque was commissioned by the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasa, son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificent, and was built by Mimar Sinan in 1561. However, scholars claim that, considering the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasa’s death date, it is probable that the mosque was ordered by his widow in his memory and completed later. It was constructed in the place of a Byzantine church converted into a mosque in the fifteenth century by Haci Halil Aga. The mosque constitutes the third in a series of edifices designed by Sinan at the request of the Grand Vizier, following the Rüstem Pasa Madrasa in 1550 and the Rüstem Pasa Mosque in Tekirdag in 1553.

Oriented along the north-east axis, the mosque is elevated on the plateau of a vaulted substructure containing the marketplace. It consists of an octagonal basic structure inscribed into a rectangular prayer hall flanked by two wings. The mosque is covered with a central dome elevated to a cylindrical drum, while a five-dome portico adjacent to the northeastern elevation is adjoined by a second exterior portico with a pitched roof. A cylindrical minaret emerges from the western corner of the prayer hall. Four staircases, enclosed in an equal number of vestibules, offer access to the elevated plateau of the mosque. Two of them adjoin the northwestern part of the substructure’s northeastern and the southwestern sides and the rest are incorporated within the southeastern corners of the marketplace. The main entrance to the mosque is located in the center of the northeastern elevation of the mosque.

The marketplace consists of a cross-vaulted warehouse occupying the ground floor of the main edifice of the mosque. Two slender barrel-vaulted stores correspond to the upper floor’s double porticos, and a series of vaulted shops align to the northwest of the two stores, with a fountain in the center. The Rüstem Pasa Mosque rises on the terrace of the substructure, thus constituting the second storey of the complex. A pitched-roof wooden portico with slightly pointed arches partially occupies the northeastern and the southwestern elevations of the mosque and adjoins the northwestern side of the five-dome portico with arches supported by columns with muqarnas capitals. Accessed by a main entrance placed on the middle of the northwestern façade of the portico, the prayer hall is covered by a central dome flanked by double-height wings, which are cloister-vaulted on the northeast and barrel-vaulted on the southwest. The dimensions of the prayer hall are approximately 26.8 by 19.6 meters, with the qibla wall along the longer side. The central dome, with a diameter of 15.2 meters and a height of approximately 22.8 meters, is raised on a cylindrical drum on an octagonal base. This base is supported by eight octagonal pillars placed on the corners of the octagon; four of them partially buried inside the walls, and four of them are free-standing, tied by semi-circular arches. Squinches intervene between the cylindrical drum and the octagonal base, transferring the load to the pillars through muqarnas pendetives. Four semi-domes are placed on the diagonals of the prayer hall. The mihrab is covered with a muqarnas semi-dome. The base of the minaret is embedded in the western corner of the prayer hall. The interior is lit by twenty-four apertures on the drum of the central dome, along with two series of rectangular openings on the walls of the first and second floor and the grille-covered openings located within the tympanums of the main arches.

The interior of the mosque, and a part of the exterior northwestern elevation of the prayer hall, are clad with colored Iznik tile panels decorated with floral arabesques. Red and white stones form the arches supporting the central dome and the slightly pointed arch that crowns the wooden doorway of the main entrance. The roofs of the side wings are decorated with wooden colored reliefs organized into geometric patterns. Floral frescoes decorate the center of each dome, while Thuluth inscription plaques are placed above the doorways, and medallions with Arabic inscriptions are situated between the arches of the external portico and on the squinches.

The mosque was damaged by fire in 1660 and by an earthquake in 1766; in both instances, the damage was immediately repaired. Nineteenth-century Baroque frescoes, layered over the surfaces of the four semi-domes on the sides of the octaglon, were removed during a 1960-1961 restoration organized by the religious foundation. The Rüstem Pasa Mosque was most recently restored between 1964-1969, and now functions as a mosque and monument.


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Beylerbeyi Palace / Beylerbeyi - Istanbul


Opening Times
Open to Public Everyday except on Mondays and Thursdays between; 01 October – 28 February 09:30 – 16:00 / 01 March – 30 September 09:30 – 17:00

Estimated Visit Duration : 30 Min. Palace is only visited by guided tours.

Cafe (Located in the garden of the Palace), Parking (Located at the entrance of the Palace), Toilettes (Located at the garden of the Palaces)

The Beylerbeyi Palace is located along the Anatolian coast of the Bosphorus at Beylerbeyi, north of Ьskьdar.


On this imperial coastal estate that rests on the woody Çamlıca hills, a Byzantine settlement is known to have existed as early as the sixth century when Emperor Constantine II (578-582) erected a church with a golden cross (stavros) that gave the area its name. The terraced gardens at Istavroz, known as Istavroz Bahçesi, were a popular resort area for the royal family. The Sevkabad Pavilion, built by Ahmed III (1603-1617) atop the hill, was used frequently by his successors Murad IV (1623-1640) and Mehmed IV (1648-1687) who came to hunt here.

Restored and enlarged by Ahmed III (1703-1730) and Mahmud I (1730-1754), the garden complex consisted of tiled and domed pavilions around a pool, baths, prayer rooms and service structures. Ottoman dignitaries also built mansions here. The name Beylerbeyi, which was not adopted until later, is thought to refer to Mehmed Paşa, the governor-general (Beylerbeyi) of the Rumelian provinces, who built his coastal complex here during the rule of Murad III (1574-1595).

Mustafa III (1757-1774) demolished the estate and sold off its lands. These lands were subsequently acquired by Mahmud I (1808-1839) to erect a summer palace at the Istavroz Gardens. The Yellow Palace, designed by royal architect Krikor Amira Balyan, was completed between 1829 and 1832 and consisted of a main building with administrative and harem sections, kiosks, servants quarters, baths, kitchens, cisterns and stables. This wooden palace, praised in the well-known travelers’ accounts by Fieldmarshal Helmuth von Moltke and Miss Julie Pardoe, succumbed to fire in 1851 and its site was abandoned until 1864 when Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876) ordered the construction of a fireproof masonry palace.

The area of Beylerbeyi on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus has been settled since Byzantine times. According to the famous 18th century traveler İnciciyan, Constantine the Great erected a cross here, after which the area was known as the Istavroz Gardens. Under the Ottomans this area was an imperial park or “hasbahзe”. İnciciyan relates that the name Beylerbeyi was given to this area in the 16th century because Mehmed Paşa who held the title of beylerbeyi (governor general) built a country house on the site.

The palace was generally reserved for summer use by the sultans or to accommodate foreign heads of state visiting the Ottoman capital. The Prince of Serbia, the King of Montenegro, the Şah of Iran and Empress Eugenie of France are among the royal guests who stayed here. The deposed Sultan Abdülhamid II spent the last six months of his life and died here in 1918.


The new summer palace, called Beylerbeyi, is designed by head architect Sarkis Balyan (1835-1899) and his brother Agop Balyan (1838-1875) in French neo-baroque style with a traditional Ottoman plan. It has a rectangular plan with the long side facing the water and consists of six halls and twenty-four rooms on two floors raised on a service basement. The six halls, three on each floor, are lined up along the longitudinal axis from southwest to northeast.

Round cascading steps in front of the mabeyn lead into the entrance hall (giriş holü), which has a double set of stairs at its rear end that give access to the reception hall above. Both halls are lit with iwans facing the mabeyn gardens to the southwest. The reception hall, also known as the Hall with Mother-of-Pearl, is adjoined by an audience room with luxurious wood paneling known as the Wooden Room (Ahşap Oda) on the seaside and a dining room on the landward side.

A corridor to the left of the mabeyn entrance hall leads into the Hall with Pool (Havuzlu Salon), named after a large oval pool at its center. The Hall with Pool, together with the Blue Hall (Mavi Salon) above it, occupies the center of the building, linking mabeyn with harem. Facing both the sea in front and the land wall behind, the two halls are linked by a double staircase with a skylight on the harem side. The Blue Hall, which is also known as the Ceremonial Hall, is named after its sixteen blue columns with orientalist capitals separating the central space from its iwans and aisles. Its roof is raised on sixteen arched windows that illuminate the hall from above.

Hall with Pool and some of its corner rooms, as well as some rooms adjoining the Blue Hall have naval scenes painted on their ceilings featuring Ottoman ships; the Admiral Room (Kaptan Paşa Odası) on the ground floor also has furnishings based on the naval theme. Much of the furniture used in the palace was brought from Europe, including crystal chandeliers from Bohemia and vases from Sevres; a wide collection of Chinese and Japanese vases is also displayed in the palace.

The interior decoration, guided by painter Migirdic Civanyan, reflects nineteenth century Ottoman eclecticism, which is a creative amalgam of Western neo-classical styles and traditional Ottoman elements such as the muqarnas, Bursa arch, interlaced arabesques and calligraphic forms. The floors, where not paved with parquet, are covered with straw mats from Egypt over which Hereke carpets are laid. The palace was illuminated by gasworks while no provisions were made for heating during the colder months.

Corridors from the two central halls lead into the living quarters or the harem, which is smaller than the mabeyn and simpler in decoration. It consists of rooms clustered around two small halls, the entrance hall and a central hall above, that are linked with a double-staircase. Some of the rooms appear today as Abdьlhamid II (1876-1908) used them while under house arrest from 1912 until his death in 1918, with furniture bearing his monogram or initials. Empress Eugenie of France (1853-1870), during her visit to Istanbul in 1869, stayed at the Beylerbeyi harem; Emperor Joseph of Austro-Hungary, Shah Nasireddin of Iran, Prince Nicholas of Montenegro and Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden were also hosted at this palace.

The gardens and kiosks A wall close to human height separates the palace and its gardens from the quay. Two sea gates rise above the walls near the mabeyn and harem entrances. Further out, located midway into the garden on each side is a small sea kiosk (Yalı Köşkü) with a tent-like roof. The kiosks are entered from the gardens through a portico and make octagonal projections onto the quay. Behind, the palace and its gardens are protected by a tall land wall, which becomes a retaining wall for terraced gardens behind the mabeyn.

Of the two gates that serve the palace on the landward side, one opens into a tunnel built earlier by Mahmud I that, passing underneath the garden terrace, exits out to the southwest end of the mabeyn gardens. Here, a ramp climbs alongside a tall wall separating the palace from the service and military structures and gives access to the first, second and third terraces to the left and the stables midway to the right.

The garden terraces were originally built by Mahmud II in 1830. The five main terraces of varied width are divided into seven different levels in places and rise up to 35 meters above sea level. The forth terrace has a large pool overlooked by the Serdab and Sarı Kiosks, the pool and the Serdab Kiosk were built by Mahmud II. Stairs and ramps, as seen today, were added by Sultan Abdülaziz who also reorganized the gardens in naturalist style.

The Serdab or sunken kiosk (Serdab Köşkü), also known as marble kiosk (Mermer Köşk), is a three-room marble structure partially buried into the retaining wall of the terrace above. With views out to the pool in front and the Bosphorus beyond, the kiosk is designed to provide solace from the summer heat; a central fountain, linked with channels to two wall fountains at either end of the main room, humidifies and cools the marble interior. Located at the same level to the east of the pool is the Sari or yellow kiosk, a two-story structure with a basement, oriented to views of the lower Bosphorus and the Çamlıca hills above.

The stables (Ahır Köşkü), the only remaining equestrian structure in an Ottoman palace, is a long rectangular building with an octagonal entrance hall projecting outward at the center. Entered through a broad pair of glass doors, the entrance hall leads into the brick-paved main space with a small marble pool and twenty stalls. Paintings of horses decorate the ceilings of the kiosk entrance hall whose arched windows resemble horseshoes.

Many of the palace service structures, such as the kitchens, have not survived. Sections of the larger gardens, including the deer woods, were given to nearby schools while some small structures once found in the gardens have not survived: the Sultan’s or Hünkar Kiosk (Hünkar Köşkü), the music pavilion (Muzika Dairesi), the deer house (Geyiklik), the lion house (Aslanhane), the dove cote (Güvercinlik) and the bird pavilion (Büyük Kuşluk). The palace baths up the hill have been demolished to make way for road expansion.

Today, the remaining palace buildings stand in the shadow of the cross-continental Bosphorus Bridge built in 1974; the supports for the colossal suspension bridge are situated immediately below the stables. The palace complex is flanked by the dormitories of the guards (Hamlacılar Kışlası) and the military barracks and soup kitchens built by Abdülhamid I (1774-1789) down the Bosphorus, and an old residential neighborhood is found to its north.

State functions are held in the state apartments (or mabeyn) entered from the southwest, whereas the two halls to the northeast with their surrounding rooms constitute the living quarters or harem, entered from the opposite end of the palace. Both sections are preceded by shady gardens with pine, red-leaf beech, and magnolia trees planted around large oval pools. Although a uniform and symmetrical look has been maintained for the waterfront, a tall wall is used to separate the two gardens behind the palace.

The interior design of Beylerbeyi Palace is a synthesis of diverse western and eastern styles, although the layout of the rooms follows that of the traditional Turkish house, consisting of a central sofa with closed rooms situated at the four corners. The furnishing and decoration of the Selamlık or public apartments are more ornate than those of the Harem.

The palace consists of two main storeys and a basement containing kitchens and store rooms. The palace has three entrances, six state rooms and 26 smaller rooms. The floors are covered with rush matting from Egypt which protected the inhabitants against damp in winter and heat in summer. Over this are laid large carpets and kilims, mostly made at Hereke. The furnishings include exquisite Bohemian crystal chandeliers, French clocks, and Chinese, Japanese, French and Turkish Yıldız porcelain vases.

One of the features which distinguishes Beylerbeyi from other Ottoman palaces of the period are the terraced gardens on the sloping hillside behind the palace. There are two pavilions on these terraces, the Sarı Köşk beside the pool on the upper terrace, and the Mermer Köşk with its interior fountain and marble walls, which provided a cool refuge in the summer heat. The Mermer Köşk, the large pool on the lower terrace and the tunnel are the only parts of the palace remaining from the earlier timber palace of Beylerbeyi. The attractive Ahır Köşk is a fascinating example of Ottoman palace stables, and of particular interest as the only such building to have survived in its original state.

The old coastal road passed under a long tunnel constructed during the reign of Mahmud II (1808-1839) so that the palace would not be separated from the terraced gardens behind. This is a unique feature, other palaces and mansions along the Bosphorus being connected to their back gardens and parks by bridges. Today this tunnel houses a cafeteria and sales points for visitors. As well as books, postcards and posters published by the Culture and Information Centre, various gifts and souvenirs are on sale here. The gardens are available for private receptions upon advance application.

MORE INFO by Beylerbeyi Palace

These scripts and photographs are registered under Copyright 2009, Beylerbeyi Palace / Beylerbeyi – Istanbul – Turkey. All Rights Reserved.


Beylerbeyi Palace is located in the Anatolian side of the Boshporus, in the
province having the same name with the palace. The palace, making up
a complex with the palace in the yard and the surrounding buildings, was
commissioned by Sultan Abdulaziz to architect brothers Sarkis and Agop
Balyan in 1864.


The palace comprises of the Beylerbeyi Palace as the main structure, sea
mansions, one of which is women hall and the other is progression hall,
located in the sea front walls of the palace, Marble Mansion, Yellow Palace
and Hasah›r in the backyard. While the sea mansions and Beylerbeyi Palace
were commisioned by Sultan Abdulaziz, the other buildings are known to be
a part of the palace once located on this spot.
Beylerbeyi Palace, the main unit of the palace complex, is a two-storey stone
building built above a high cellar. The length of the palace, which is built
in parallel to the Boshporus, is 65 meters. There are 6 saloons and 24 rooms
in the palace which has staircase access from three sides. Especially Fountain
Saloon and Blue Saloon which have their name from the color of their columns
on the upper floor are the most impressive places of the palace. Also its garden,
arranged in sets, is another feature of the palace.
Address: Abdullahaga Road. 81210 Beylerbeyi-Istanbul
Phone: +90 216 321 93 20-321 95 51


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 |  CATEGORIES: Historical Landmark, Whereist Ottoman Baroque Neo-Baroque

Hekimoğlu Ali Paşa Mosque. He was the son (oğlu) of a court physician (hekim) and himself was Grand Vezir for 15 years under Sultan Mahmut I. The mosque dates from 1734-35, the architect was Ömer Ağa. It has characteristics of the classical style and of the new baroque style.





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 |  CATEGORIES: Historical Landmark, Whereist Eyup and Fatih, Whereist Ottoman Baroque Neo-Baroque

History of the Pantokrator Monastery – Zeyrek Djami

Panorama of the Pantokrator

above: The Pantokrator from an early 20th century picture showing the three churches with their respective apses.

Many people date the beginning of the Byzantine Empire to the year of the founding of Constantinople of “New Rome” by the Emperor Constantine in the year 324 AD. The name “Byzantine Empire” is a recent creation, the inhabitants of this empire identified themselves as Romans or just Christians. Throught the years this empire grew and retreated in size as it was attacked by outside enemies east and west. In 1017 this empire suffered one of its worse setbacks when the Emperor Romanos Diogenes was defeated in battle by Turkish armies which had broken through the eastern frontiers. This setback allowed the penetration into the heartland of the Empire, Anatolia, by Islamic warriors who spearheaded the emigration of Muslim nomadic tribes.

John II and his wife Irene
above: Panel from Hagia Sophia showing John II and his wife Irene flanking the Virgin and Child. John and Irene, a blond Hungarian Princess, were the founders of the Pantokrator.

This crisis ended a long period of domination of Byzantium by a civil adminstration and lead to the overthrow of the current Emperor in Constantinople by Alexis Comnenos who placed his own provincial military aristrocratic family, the Comneni, in control with him as Emperor. The dynasty he created ruled the Empire from 1081-1204.

This period saw a broad economic regeneration and the recovery of a great part of Anatolia from the Muslim invaders. This recovery was not to prove lasting and the seeds of the destruction of the Empire and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Artistically and culturally the Comnenian period was marked by acceptance of outside influences – particularly from the west – and a renaissance of centuries-old traditions. Increasing prosperity and self-confidence lead the Comnenian Emperors to build new palaces, churches and other builkdings in the capital city of Constantinople

View Looking into the Apse of the South Church
above: View looking into the apse of the south church. The Muslim minbar – pulpit – can be seen on the right had corner of the apse. This pulpit was made from the original canopied altar of the church.

One of their chief foundations was the complex of Monastery of the Pantokrator (Ruler of all), which was dedicated to Chist and stood on a hill overlooking the ancient aqueduct of Valens near the geographical center of the city. There are three interconnected churches. The first building was constructed by the Empress Irene between 1118 – 1124. This was the largest church and it was richly decorated with mosaics and rare marbles. Shortly thereafter a large church was built alongside the first one to the South and it was dedicated it to the Vigin Eleosa – “Mercy”. Finally, a wide space between the two churches was vaulted over by two domes and transformed into an Imperial mausoleum dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.

Looking through the mausoleum into the North Church
above: Looking northward from the large south church, through the mausoleum into the Church of the Virgin of Mercy.

The large south church is one of the largest churches built during the middle ages in Constantinople with a nave 52 feet square and a dome 23 feet across. The survivial of so many huge cathedrals in the capital, like Hagia Sophia and Holy Apostles, made the further construction of big churches unnecessary. The pietism of the time and the preference for smaller, community monastic churches also dictated a more intimate size.

Interior oif the church
above: Northwestern view from the Masoleum into the Church of the Vigin of Mercy

The splendid interiors of all three churches were must remarked upon in the Middle Ages. The Comnenian Emperors and their wives lavished money and gifts on the monastery, which was covered in golden mosaic, rich marble veneer, precious metals and semi-precious stones. Even the floor was inlaid with a fantastic opus sectile rinceau carpet of carved, colored marbles depicting mythological scenes, hunters and animals. Fragments of stained glass set in lead found in the church indicate the windows of the apse were set with figures of Christ, the Virgin and possibly other saints.

Plan of the three churches
above: Plan of the three churches, The Church of the Virgin is on the left, the Mausoleum of St. Michael and the Pantokrator Church is on the right.

The mausoleum church contained many relics, including the stone upon which, it was claimed, Christ had been annointed after his crucifixion. This mausoleum was filled with the marble tombs of Emperors and Empresses and it’s iconostasis was said to have been encrusted with gold enamels and gems.

The church was founded as a hospital and their were many beds along with nurses and doctors attached to the monastery. It was also a center of learning and art. The founding document for the monastery – its Typicon – survives and outlines all its social functions in detail.

In 1204 the city of Constantinople fell to the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade after a series of vast and horrible fires set by the Crusaders. These conflagrations leveled large swaths of the city and consumed art treasures and books created and gathered over 900 years by the Byzantines. This included some of the greatest works of antiquity and a vast part of Western civilization went up in flames. Catholic looters spread throughout the city to snatch what was left and the booty was thought to be the greatest ever seen.

The soldiers from France, Italy, and all across Europe did not spare the churches of their brother Christians, they stripped them bare of their valuables. The Pantokrator was attacked and looted. The tombs of the Emperoros and Empresses were opened and their bodies were stripped. Monks and nuns were murdered and raped. Tens of thousands perished.

The Pala d'Oro from Saint Mark's in Venice
above: The Pala d’Oro from St. Mark’s in Venice. Many of the enamels and gems from the huge altarpiece are siad to come from the Pantokrator Monastery.

The Venetians claimed the Pantokrator as part of their booty and occupied the complex until the latins were ousted from the city by the Byzantines in 1261. Towards the end – when it became apparent they could not hold on to Constantinople it is said the Venetians removed the enameled panels from the iconostasis of the Pantokrator and shipped them to Venice, where they became the centerpiece of the famous Pala d’Oro.

After the recovery of the city of Constantinople by the Byzantines the monastery of the Pantokrator was restored and once again became a spiritual and cultural center. In 1453 the advancing Muslim Turks stormed the walls of Christian capital of the East. The city was looted, its citizens slaughtered and enslaved. The Pantokrator was looted once more and converted into a mosque – and renamed the Zeyrek Djami.

View of the Apse of the South Church
above: View of the apse of the south church. During Ottoman times the backwall of the apse was flattened and the mosaics were scraped off. The arch is a mithrab – it indicates the direction of Mecca for Muslim prayer. This view shows what remains of the magnificent marble paneling of the church.

Like many Byzantine churches that were converted into mosques the altar, iconstasis and portable ikons were removed, which the mosaics and wall paintings were curiously left exposed. This may have continued until the 18th century when the walls were scraped of their mosaics, leaving just a few fragments. At some point the valuable large columns of the north and south churches were removed and replaced with piers. The marble veneer of the walls was also stripped – leaving only the plackage of the apse to attest to the former glory of the Imperial church.

Today the church is undergoing restoration.

Bob Atchison


The Zeyrek Church Mosque, formerly the Church of the Monastery of Pantocractor, was built by Byzantine Emperor John II Comnenus (1118-1143) and his wife, Empress Irene. Built on the forth hill of the city overlooking the Golden Horn, the famous Middle Byzantine foundation had a triple-church, a hostel, a hospital, a hospice for the elderly, a medical school and a library. Copies of the Typikon, or the monastery calendar describing services and ceremonies, provide details of the monastery’s social and religious functions. The imperial founders endowed the monastery with numerous properties, including other monasteries in the Marmara region, Thrace, Macedonia, Western Anatolia and the Aegean Islands. Only the church, used as a mosque since the Ottoman conquest, and the cisterns of the monastery have remained.


The church consists of three joint churches built successively in the 12th century. The church to the south was built first and dedicated to Christ the Pantocrator, or “He who reigns over all, the Almighty”; hence the name of the monastery. A smaller church, built ten meters north of the earlier structure was consecrated to Panagia Eleousa or Merciful Mary. The two churches were subsequently united with a funerary chapel fitted in between, honoring St. Michael the Archangel. Converted to a mosque after temporary use as a madrasa after the Ottoman takeover, the church was named “Zeyrek” after Molla Zeyrek Mehmed Efendi, a resident of the neighborhood who taught at the madrasa. The mosque, repaired after a fire in mid 18th century, fell into disrepair by the 1950s. The library of the monastery burnt in 1934.


Archaeological studies by the Byzantine Institute of America in the mid 1950s have revealed floor mosaics of the period. The central church was re-opened for Islamic prayer during this time and the Directorate of Religious Endowments restored the northern church in 1966. The current restoration work, begun in 1997 by Professors Robert Ousterhout, Zeynep Ahunbay and Metin Ahunbay, is funded by the Kress Foundation/World Monuments Fund, University of Illinois Research Fund, Istanbul Technical University and Dumbarton Oaks Project Grants. The Zeyrek Church Mosque was included in the annual list of the World Monuments Watch “100 Most Endangered Sites” in 2002.

The triple-church is entered from the west, through the outer narthex of the southern church, which opens into an inner narthex that spans the entire length of the church and gives access into the three naves. The outer narthex, composed of five cross-vaulted bays, has ablution spigots at its north end. Five brick archways, with a rose marble frame set inside each arch, lead into the inner narthex. The central archway between the narthexes is distinguished with its taller frame crowned by a triple arch, across from the entry into the southern church, embellished similarly with marble frames. The inner narthex also has an upper level. Unlike the dim atmosphere of the lower level, the upper level is brightly lit with clerestory windows and windows pierced into the central bay’s dome.


The southern church, oldest among the three, has a cross-dome plan. It consists of a domed nave at the center, flanked by vaulted aisles on three sides, and a deep apsidal sanctuary to the east. The aisles and sanctuary, in other words, form the four arms of the Greek cross in plan. The aisles here are separated from the nave with four columns symmetrically placed around the nave, which support the weight of the roof along with piers embedded in side walls. The side aisles terminate in narrow miniature chapels with apses, linked with the central sanctuary. The space is lit with sixteen windows on the dome, windows inside the four barrel-vaults, and sanctuary windows placed at two levels. The southern church also has windows to the upper level of the inner narthex, which projects into the space with an ornate bay window. The capitals of the four central columns, the bay window, the mihrab and painted decoration of the interior date from renovations performed at the height of Ottoman baroque. The fine mosaic floor of the southern church, discovered underneath its wooden floor by the Byzantine Institute, provides clues to the original decoration of the interior. Archaeological studies by the Institute have recovered fragments of colored glass, believed to belong to original windows. The marble revetments of the sanctuary have remained intact, while marble parts of the iconostas were used in the minbar.


A wall, placed midway between the southern and northern churches, partitions the inner narthex into two sections. The funerary chapel joining the two churches is entered from either section, as well as from the individual churches, although the connecting archways are boarded up. Narrow and deep, the funeral chapel consists of a nave, covered by two oval domes, and a semi-domed apsidal sanctuary. It is dimly lit with windows on its two domes. The crypt underneath the chapel was used for years as the burial ground of the Palaeologan family, including the imperial founders Comnenus I and Irene. Also used as a mosque, the chapel has a mihrab, a minbar and a preacher’s lodge today. The church to the north, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is smaller than but identical to the southern church. It also lacks an exterior narthex, but has a separate side entrance in addition to two doors on the inner narthex and archways that link it to the funerary chapel to its south. The northern church and its narthex were restored by the Ministry of Religious Endowments in 1966-67.


On the exterior, the ensemble is animated by the undulating cornice line, which follows the profile of the barrel vaults. Beside the outer narthex, capped at a lower level with a sloping roof, the three churches have a continuous roof cover from which the five domes rise to varying heights reflective of their size and importance. A minaret, added during the conversion, is located at the northwest corner of the exterior narthex, to the right of the main entrance. The stone foundations remain to the south, where a building as large as the northern church was attached to the narthexes. A wooden takiyya (tekke), built on these foundations during Ottoman times, is seen in older photographs along with housing that was built along the southern wall of the churches.

Dünden Bugüne Istanbul Ansiklopedisi. 1993. Istanbul: Türkiye Ekonomik ve Toplumsal Tarih Vakfi, vol. 7, 555-557 and vol.6, 218.

Ahunbay, Metin and Zeynep Ahunbay. 2001. “Restoration Work at the Zeyrek Camii, 1997-1998.” Byzantine Constantinople: Monuments, Topography, and Everyday Life (ed. N. Necipoglu). Brill: Leiden, Boston, 117-32.

Mathews, Thomas. 1976. The Byzantine Churches of Istanbul: A Photographic Survey. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 71-102.

Müller-Wiener, Wolfgang. 2001. [Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls.Turkish]. Istanbul’un Tarihsel Topografyasi: 17. yüzyil baslarina kadar Byzantion-Konstantinopolis-Istanbul. (translated by Ülker Sayin). Istanbul: Yapi Kredi Yayinlari.

Ousterhout, Robert, Zeynep Ahunbay and Metin Ahunbay. 2000. Study and restoration of the Zeyrek Camii in Istanbul: First report 1997-1998. Dumberton Oaks Papers 54, 265-270. www.doaks.org/DOP54/DP54ch15.pdf>. [Accessed May 31, 2006]


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