Topkap Palace is the most important of the palaces inherited from the Ottoman Empire and now open to the public as a museum. Fatih Sultan Mehmet constructed Topkapi Palace in Sarayburnu in 1478. Many sultans also lived in the palace, which served as the Ottoman Empire’s administrative headquarters for 380 years. Later, administration was moved to Dolmabahçe Palace, and Sultan Abdülmecit designated Topkap Palace as a museum at the time.
The entrance to Topkap Palace is through the large gate known as Bab-u Hümayun (Imperial or Sultanate Gate). The walls just above the majestic gate are covered in beautiful calligraphy. There are also Qur’anic verses, tugras belonging to the sultans, and texts of various content.
Square of the Regiment
Those who enter immediately after are greeted by a courtyard. Alay Square was given to this courtyard. If you’re wondering what Alay Square is, where it is, and what its features are, you should keep reading. The wide courtyard known as Alay Square, which houses the Ottoman Imperial Mint, the Pharmacy Building, and the Hagia Eirene Church, has seen many triumphal parades of sultans returning to the palace after the war. Altnyol is another significant location in Alay Square. This location resembles a street in the form of a corridor about 45 meters long. It is known that the sultans traveled from here to Hasbahçe and the city, and that the special rooms in Enderun were also linked to the Mabeyn by this corridor. When the feast days arrived, the Sultan is said to have scattered gold purses for the people of the harem while passing through here.
Gate of Welcome
Another large gate can be found at the opposite end of Regiment Square. Bab-us Selam (Salam Gate) is the name of the second gate, which has two towers. With two repair texts and three tugras, the word-i tawhid on its wall draws attention. The second large courtyard, Divan Square, is reached via the Bab-us Selam Gate.
3 and 4 Courtyards
Topkapi Palace has two large gates and two more large courtyards. Each courtyard contains significant structures. At the time, no one could enter the third gate, known as Bab-us Saade (Gate of Happiness), without the sultan’s permission. The third courtyard, Enderun Square, is located behind the third gate. Sofa-i Hümayun is the fourth wide courtyard. There are pavilions and terraces in beautiful gardens in this courtyard. It is also known that the famous Ottoman tulip gardens are located here. Thus, the questions of What is the Alay Square, where is it, and what its features are answered by briefly mentioning the great gates and courtyards in Topkapi Palace.