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Topkapi's Fourth Courtyard

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

View of the Sea of Marmara and Bosporus from the Sofa Mosque on the Sofa Pavilion.

In my previous few posts, I introduced Topkapi Palace, its Second Courtyard and Harem, and the Third Courtyard. In this final post, I will discuss the fourth courtyard.

My guide and I spent about a half day at Topkapi Palace. Our final stop was the fourth courtyard, which consists primarily of terraced gardens and pavilions. In its heyday, the fourth courtyard was the sultan's private domain and strictly off-limits to outsiders. The courtyard consists of the Mecidiye Kiosk, Sofa Mosque, Sofa Pavilion, Baghdad Kiosk, Iftariye Pavilion, Revan Kiosk, and the Circumcision Chamber.

Walkway to the Fourth Courtyard.

The Mecidiye Kiosk.

The Mecidiye Kiosk. The Mecidiye or "New" Kiosk was the last kiosk added to Topkapi Palace. Sultan Abdul Mecid built it as an imperial reception space in 1840. The kiosk overlooks the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus Strait and sits near the Sofa Mosque (see intro image).

Sofa Mosque. The Sofa or "Terrace" Mosque sits near the Mecidiye Kiosk. It was constructed in the time of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-39) following the demolition of the Chamberlain’s Pavilion.

The Baghdad Kiosk.

The Baghdad Kiosk. Construction on the Baghdad Pavilion and Kiosk began just as Sultan Murad IV embarked on his Baghdad Campaign in April 1638. It was completed after the sultan’s death on February 8th, 1640. The kiosk is one of the last of its kind, decorated with Iznik tiles and stained glass and crowned with traditional Ottoman motifs in gold leaf. It contains a silver "mangal" (charcoal stove), a present of King Louis XIV of France. From the mid-18th century onwards, the building was used as the library of the Privy Chamber.

The kiosks were actually some of my favorite sites at Tokapi.

Iftariye Pavilion. The Iftariye Pavilion was constructed in 1640 during the reign of Sultan İbrahim. This pavilion contains the Iftar Gazebo, which juts out from the courtyard between the Baghdad Kiosk and the Circumcision Chamber. The structure has a roof that features a tulip-shaped device and is supported by four gold-plated copper columns. The gazebo was used for holiday festivities and was where sultans would break their fast in Ramadan.
Bangkok Kiosk and Iftar Gazebo on Iftariye Pavilion. (Image linked.)

Standing beside the Iftar Gazebo overlooking the Golden Horn

Circumcision Room. I did not get any photos of or visit the circumcision room. Evidently this room is where the sons of Sultan Ahmed III were circumcised. It is beautifully decorated with mixture of rare tile.

The Yerevan Pavilion. The Yerevan Pavilion was constructed in 1636 to commemorate Sultan Murad IV’s victory at the city of Yerevan in modern-day Armenia. The pavilion is also called "Revan" or sarık odası (turban room) because sacred relics were kept here during the Chamber of the Holy Mantle’s traditional cleaning ceremony.

The Yerevan Pavilion

In addition, I realized I mislabled some of my photos in my last post. The below beautiful tile and marble walls and columns are part of the entrance to the Iftariye Pavilion.

Below also are a couple of images of the Gate of Felicity that I forgot about. If you remember, the Gate of Felicity leads to the Third Courtyard.

I will end my series on Topkapi Palace with a short (too quick) video I took on my way out of Topkapi Palace walking behind my guide. In it, you can see some of the second courtyard, a quick glimpse of the kitchens' smoke stacks (remember, they took up one whole side of the courtyard), and the Gate of Salutation as we walk towards it.

In 1856, Abdülmecid I moved the royal family to Dolmabahçe Palace, which was more contemporary in style, luxury, and comfort, similar to the palaces of the European monarchs. I did not get to visit this palace while I was in Istanbul, but I have heard it is splendid. In fact, pictures I've seen remind me of Peleș Castle (see my post here) in Romania, which was built around the same time.

As for Topkapi Palace, if you ever visit, I suggest you bring a pad of paper and pencil and write everything down as you go. Otherwise, you'll be as confused as I've been when you try to write about it later!

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Happy Easter, Jessica. I had to giggle, because the first room I would have visited would be the circumcision room. Mind you, I did wince thinking about it.

Another post with beautiful photos and great descriptive text, Jessica. Thank you.

Jessica Cyphers
Jessica Cyphers
Apr 09, 2023
Replying to

Lol, I was just following my guide. We probably only spent 30 minutes in the fourth courtyard―maybe less. My guide has seen these sights a million times, of course. But it would have been interesting to stop in! Happy Easter to you, too, Gary!

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