Restored sections of Harem open to visitors
Restoration activities in the Harem-i Hümayun (seraglio) section of the Topkapı Palace has been completed, where now Valide Taşlığı (the courtyard of the Valide sultan), Ocaklı Sofa (the sofa with fireplace) and Çeşmeli Sofa (the sofa with the fountain) have been reopened to visitors after six years of restoration work.
These three sections in the Harem of the palace can be visited every day except for Tuesdays.
The newly opened sections are also very important in terms of housing the structures where the Ottoman Harem administration took shape.
The first of these areas is Valide Taşlığı. It is the central courtyard where the buildings that constitute the Harem were built in accordance with the palace hierarchy. It consists of a courtyard that resembles the classical Anatolian house architecture and two-story buildings around it.
On the Golden Horn side, there is the Valide Sultan Flat and the Hünkar Bath. The columns on both sides of the courtyard are very valuable since they are the first examples of Ottoman architectural art.
The walls of the courtyard are covered with tiles from various periods. As part of the restoration work, dome and vault conservation was carried out in these areas. The restoration of wall tiles has been completed too.
Another important place opened to visitors in the Harem is the Ocaklı Sofa, located between the Kadınefendiler Dairesi (courtyard of the concubines) and the Çeşmeli Sofa. This section takes its name from the fact that it hosts the largest fireplace in the Harem.
The Sofa, which is thought to have been built in the early 17th century, was built on the order of Sultan Mehmet IV in 1965 after the great fires that engulfed two-thirds of Constantinople (now Istanbul). The sofa is covered with a rectangular dome, decorated with engravings and colorful tiles.
Considering its transition to the Valide Taşlığı, the sofa can rightly be called the heart of the Harem.
One of the newly opened venues in Harem-i Hümayun is the Çeşmeli Sofa. The Çeşmeli Sofa is located between the Ocaklı Sofa and the Hünkar Sofası.
It takes its name from having one of the most beautiful Ottoman palace fountains. The Çeşmeli Sofa was the place where prince and women waited to enter the sultan’s flat and the Hünkar Sofası. With this position, it functioned as a passage hall.
Bringing together visitors with important venues
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, National Palaces Administration Head Yasin Yıldız said that the Harem section of Topkapı Palace receives great interest from both local and foreign visitors.
Stating that the Harem has been closed since 2014 and the restoration process has been continuing for about six years, Yıldız said: “We took over this place in 2019. Previously, restoration work was carried out by the Culture and Tourism Ministry. Restorations were completed in the past months and it became possible to open this area to visitors.”
Noting that the sections of the palace’s Harem are very important in terms of its history, he said: “The section of Topkapı Palace, which we call the Harem, belongs to the family of the sultan and for this reason, it is a place where visitors show great interest. Now that it is opened, we bring these important places together with the visitors.”
Yıldız said that the Hünkar Sofası, where the sultan accepted his mother and the people of the palace, was located just ahead of the Valide Taşlığı, and that the Ocaklı Sofa in front of the Hünkar Sofrası was also handled within the scope of the restoration works.
Speaking about the Ocaklı Sofa that it gets its name because of a large bronze fireplace in the Harem, Yıldız said, “It took its current form in the period of Mehmet IV and was closed for about six years until the recent restorations and is now open for visitors.”
“The Çeşmeli Sofa, next to Ocaklı Sofa, has been opened for the first time to visitors,” he added.
Noting that intensive restoration works have been continuing in Topkapı Palace, Yıldız said that a limited part of the palace can be visited as of now.
Yıldız also said that the restoration work in the third courtyard, now known as Enderun Courtyard, was on the verge of completion.
“Among these, the Hazine Koğuşu and the Seferli Koğuşu will meet with visitors next year. We will have the chance to exhibit very exceptional collections of the palace here. Fatih Köşkü will also meet with visitors after its completion next year,” he added.