İbrahim Paşa Palace
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art
on the site of the former At Meydanı or ‘Horse Square’, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Possibly built during the reign of Bayezid II, (Hegira late 9th–10th / AD 15th–early 16th century); the first document available mentions its restoration in hegira 926–7 / AD 1520–1 by Süleyman the Magnificent
Bayezid II (r. AH 886–918 / AD 1481–1512), Süleyman the Magnificent (r. AH 926–74 / AD 1520–66), İbrahim Pasha (the grand vizier of Süleyman the Magnificent between 929 / 1523 and 942 / 1536), and many other Ottoman sultans, pashas and grand admirals.
In Byzantine times, the Hippodrome was the heart of social life, and it retained this function during the Ottoman period when it was known as the At Meydanı or 'Horse Square'. The Ibrahim Paşa Palace was possibly built in the reign of Bayezid II on the remains of the western tiers of the ancient Hippodrome. Unusually for Ottoman civil architecture, which was customarily built of timber, the İbrahim Pasha Palace was built with brick and stone masonry on a slope. Sources describe it looking like a castle with iron gates from outside.
Due to the fact that the site is on a slope the main façade, overlooking the Horse Square and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, is a three-storied structure comprising a basement, ground floor and upper floor, whereas the other parts of the building, on the higher level, have two stories.
The palace was built around four courtyards surrounded with porticoes. The first and second courtyards overlook Horse Square, while the third courtyard and the fourth (now the site of the courthouse and its archives) were introverted. The first courtyard provides two entrances into the palace. In the second courtyard, the ground-floor is a continuous hall with sturdy piers supporting barrel-vaults extending perpendicular to the courtyard. The upper floor is surrounded with domed rooms located behind domed porticoes to the north and south. To the south is the divanhane, reserved for the sultan when he visited the palace for occasions like circumcision and wedding festivals. The summer divanhane has a row of wooden posts supporting a wooden roof, and a balcony overlooking Horse Square, from which the sultans could watch ceremonial parades. There are numerous miniatures in Ottoman manuscripts depicting the festivals held in Horse Square and the sultan watching them from this balcony. To the west is the winter divanhane.
The third courtyard is surrounded by a 'U'-shaped building on three sides. The ground floor is a continuous vaulted gallery and the upper floor has domed porticoes in front of the domed rooms. The part of the palace around the fourth courtyard and the adjoining stables were destroyed in 1939 for the construction of the Istanbul Courthouse. Today the third courtyard functions as the archives of courthouse.
The İbrahim Paşa Palace underwent many alterations and restorations following damage by earthquakes, fires and riots. It is the only surviving example of an Ottoman state official's palace in Istanbul today. The first courtyard is partially occupied by another Ottoman structure concealed by the Land Registration office building, which extends along the third part of the palace as well. The last restoration was carried out between 1966 and 1983 and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts moved here in 1984.
In 1521 Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent presented his grand-vizier İbrahim Pasha with the Atmeydanı Palace, which he had renovated. Known after this grand-vizier, this palace is the only surviving example of an Ottoman state official's palace in Istanbul. The sultans used it for occasions such as circumcision and wedding festivals. The masonry-built palace has survived various alterations. Since its latest restoration in 1966–83 the structure has served as the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.
From chronicles such as those by: Solak-zade Tarihi; Celalzade Mustafa çelebi; Marino Sanuto; Hans Dernschwam. Also documents from the Topkapı Palace Archives.
Atasoy, N., İbrahim Paşa Sarayı [The İbrahim Paşa Palace], Istanbul, 1972.
çetintaş, S., Saray ve Kervansaraylarımız Arasında İbrahim Paşa Sarayı [The İbrahim Paşa Palace among our Palaces and Caravanserais], Istanbul, 1939.
Müller-Wiener, W., Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls, Tübingen, 1977, pp.492–4.
ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002,pp.19–25.
Orgun, Z., İbrahimpaşa Sarayı [The İbrahim Paşa Palace], Istanbul, 1939.
Tayla, H., “İbrahim Paşa Sarayı Restorasyonu [The Restoration of the İbrahim Paşa Palace]”, Mimaride Türk Milli üslubu Semineri [Seminar on the Turkish National Style in Architecture], Istanbul, 1984, pp.129–33.
İnci Türkoğlu "İbrahim Paşa Palace" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;27;en
Prepared by: İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: TR 40
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | The Ottoman Capital: Istanbul The Ottomans | Court Life
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