Topkapı Palace gets most comprehensive makeover in its history
ÖMER ERBİL - ISTANBUL
Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace has been entirely restored with a budget of 300 million Turkish Liras. The cracks in the Fatih Mansion and the garden of the palace had revealed the need for the comprehensive restoration, the first restoration in the history of the palace.
It seems like the palace is being rebuilt during this restoration project. In the past, only simple maintenance had been done on the palace, but now, scientific restitution and restoration projects are being implemented.
It is possible to see restoration works almost everywhere in Topkapı. The walls, 15 different sections in the seraglio, structures in the former military area, Small Room and Pantry Ward, Library of Ahmed III, Treasury Department, Seferli Ward and former Teşvikiye and Gülhane hospitals are among the places that have been undergoing restoration.
There is a different restoration team for every section. The teams are made up of archaeologists, art historians, geologists and others. There is also a museum official who inspects the debris from the works. According to officials, even a single stone cannot be thrown away without being checked.
“We are working to make every visitor happy. People want to see more places in the palace. That is why they are in a hurry to finish the restorations in some places. Scientific works are being carried out. This is the reason works take a long time. We need to protect historical buildings. An intellectual mind is necessary, so we need to be careful and patient. We remove storage in the palace and try to organize new storage. We have decreased the fields, which had served as storage in the seraglio, up to 80 percent. These places have been closed. Once the work is done, the seraglio will have more places to visit,” said Topkapı Palace Museum head Mustafa Küçükaşçı.
Istanbul Provincial Culture and Tourism director Coşkun Yılmaz said Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş had a special interest in the palace.
“The palace has undergone the restoration process since its construction, but this is the most comprehensive restoration so far. Works have been carried out in 27 sections. The budget is 300 million liras. Kurtulmuş ordered us to use every means available. In the past, cracks had been restored with plaster and mortar. The damage in the palace could not be seen. When we cleaned them, we saw that there were serious problems. An area of 350,000 square meters was restored. The most important place is the seraglio. Restorations continue in 15 different sections in the seraglio. When finished, the exhibition area will grow three to four times. The palace will regain its identity in the 16th and 17th century,” he said.
In the Imperial Hall is a secret door, which is one of the most important places in the seraglio, where entertainment for the sultan had been organized. The secret door is located right behind the balcony in one of the three mirrors on the wall. It is located behind the middle mirror. The sultan had used it to access the upper floors in exceptional circumstances, but it is impossible to notice when closed. A narrow staircase leads to the balcony.
The Imperial Hall is in the center of the Harem and Selamlık. Built by chief architect Davud Ağa after 1585, the Imperial Hall was used by sultans for ceremonies. Entertainment had also been organized there. The sultan’s throne and a gallery for women are also in the Imperial Hall. Restorations have been finished in that hall.
The throne of Sultan Selim III, which had been photographed when it had been taken to the house of former museum director Yusuf Benli, had been restored and put back in its place. Afterwards, Benli was removed from his position in the museum office.