The first palace of the era following the conquest was built on today’s Beyazit Square. After that palace, which has left almost no remains, a new one was built. The new palace in Sultanahmet, of which construction ordered by Mehmed II. finished in 1478, was originally called the New Palace (Saray—i Cedid or Yeni Saray), but it was to be known as the Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayi). The initial size of the Topkapı Palace, the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire for about 380 years, was 700 thousand sqm. The palace mirroring the magnificent side of the empire was to remain as one of the “most intriguing places of the world” for hundreds of years. However, in the 19th century, the modern lifestyle represented by the new palaces of Dolmabahce, Beylerbeyi and Yıldız, which were built along the Bosphorus, disgraced the Topkapı Palace. Sultans and members of their families gradually left Topkapı. When the valuable artifacts protected in the Chambers of Treasury and Sacred Relics (Kutsal Emanetler) began to attract great interest among foreign ambassadors, presentations of them has become a tradition and after the order of Sultan Abdulaziz, articles in the palace were started to be put into glass cases. Topkapı Palace was transformed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924 into a state museum.
The Topkapı Palace, which is conveying the story of a unique culture that lasted hundreds of years, constitutes the mysterious side of a cultural richness that cannot be easily explored through visiting, watching or reading. The Imperial Treasury where invaluable jewels are exhibited, the Chamber of the Sacred Relics (Kutsal Emanetler Bölümü) and the Imperial Harem are still the most popular sections of the museum. Countless artifacts including elegant wall and table clocks and pocket watches, calligraphic works, miniatures, oil paintings, documents, books and writing sets are exhibited in the museum, which has currently a total size of 80 thousand sqm.
The Topkapı Palace was representing Istanbul, and Istanbul was representing the Ottoman Empire. ln fact, Mehmed II. chose the site of the palace as if he wanted to “vanish” the Byzantine Empire. The Topkapı Palace was built on the end of the Historic Peninsula, over the remains of a Byzantine Palace Basilica. Sultan ’s Wall (Sur-i Sultani) built during the reign of Mehmed II. surrounded the land side of the palace and complemented the sea walls remaining from the Byzantine era. The Imperial Gate (Bab—i Humayun), also known as the Gate of Sultan (Saltanat Kapisi), was used to enter the palace, which was not only a residence, but it was also a big complex where the state was administered, where the princes were educated and where the servants were staying. A 300 meters long way connects the Imperial Gate with the Gate of Salutation (Babu’s—Selam), also known as the Middle Gate (Orta Kapi)The area between those two gates constitutes the First Courtyard (Avlu or Alay Meydani). The Middle Gate has two towers made of stone and it is the main gate of the palace. Upon passing this gate, the Second Courtyard (II. Avlu) is entered. The most popular structure in this area is the Tower of Justice (Adalet Kulesi). This tower was symbolizing that sultans were valuing justice above all else. The Grand Vizier and viziers gathered, ambassadors were received and banquets in honor of special guests were held here.
The section including the Enderun School was the Third Courtyard (Ill. Avlu) of the Topkapı Palace. ln the Enderun School, which was seen as the most important building surrounding the courtyard, students were trained to become statesmen, commanders and ”inner boys”, i.e., servants of the palace. Through the practice of ”devşirme”, conscripted boys from Christian families were converted to Islam and brought to the Enderun School. The Second Courtyard was surrounded mainly by administrative buildings. The most important one among them was the Imperial Council (Divan-i Humayun) building. The main meeting room of the Imperial Council was called Kubbealti (under the dome). The Window with the golden grill, at the center of the Wall decorated with mosaics and motifs, was made for the sultans. Thus, sitting behind this grill, they were able to follow deliberations of the council without being noticed…
The Gate of Felicity (Babu’s Saade) was both one of the most important gates of the palace and the entrance into the Third Courtyard (III. Avlu). Ceremonies were held and viziers going to war were sent off here. Behind this door, there were the Chamber of the Throne (Taht Odasi), the Imperial Treasury (Hazine) and the Chamber of the Sacred Relics (Kutsal Emanetler Dairesi). This gate was used to enter the private courtyard of the sultan as Well. ln the miniature above with a scene from 1789, Selim II’s ascending to the throne before the Gate of Felicity (Babu’s Saade) is portrayed. The Gate of Felicity had a symbolic meaning in the Ottoman era, but today, thousands of hurrying tourists are passing quickly through it…
As soon as entering the treasury rooms of the Topkapı Palace Museum, one of the richest collections in the world, every thought about wealth, money or richness is left behind the walls made of stones. The term “invaluable” becomes concrete and in fact, none of the artifacts here can be appraised… This section, built on the order of Mehmed ll, housed the treasury during the imperial era. One fifth of all state revenues were transferred to this treasury. Besides, valuable gifts sent by foreign statesmen were stored here. With the addition of jewelry, furs, clothes and articles owned by the sultan and his court, rumors about the ”Enderun Treasury” turned into a world~wide legend. The Enderun Treasury was separate from the treasury of the government, and in cases of financial trouble, the articles stored here were sold in order to provide support. Even the remains of this treasury, which was protected by about 150 inner boys, are sufficient to astonish people. Of course, the most popular ones among the articles dating from various centuries are the Spoonmaker’s Diamond (Kaşıkçı Elması and the Topkapı Dagger (Topkapı Hanceri), which were mentioned in novels and movies as well. Besides these two unique articles that are worldwide famous, thrones, crests, swords, chandeliers, state medals and ornaments take visitors’ breaths away.
The seven ecumenical church consils were all held in Turkey. The chart below provides general information on these seven concils. All dates are AD.
I. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Date / Location :325 / Nicea in the Emperor’s summer palace
Participants :Convened by Constantine with over 300 bishops present
Outcome :Creed adopted stating that Jesus was “true God from true God, begotten not made of the same substance with the Father through whom all things were made
II. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Date / Location :381 / Constantinople in the Hagie Irene Church
Participants :Convened by Emperor Theodisius with 150 eastern bishop present including Gregory of Nazianus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Cyril of Jerusalem
Heresy :Arianism and Apollinarianism
Outcome :Teaching of Arius and Apollinarius denounced; refined the Nicene Creed by making 10 additions to the next and affirmed the deity of the Holly Spirit
III. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Date / Location :431 / Ephesus in Church of Mary
Participants :Convened by Emperor Theodisius II with over 200 bishop present
Heresy :Nestorianism and Pelagianism
Outcome :Teaching of Nestorius denounced Mary called “Theotokos” ( God-bearer) and Pelagius condemned for his view of original sin.
IV. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Date / Location :451 / Chalcedon in St.Euphemia Church
Participants :Convened by Emperor Marcian with about 370 bishop present
Outcome :Eutyches’teaching denounced and a brief definition of faith declaring that Christ’s two natures were “unmixed,unchanged,undivided, and inseparable
V. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Date / Location :553 / Constantinople in Hagia Sophia Church
Participants :Convened by Emperor Justinian I with about 152 mostly Eastern bishop present
Outcome :Affirmed that Christ had both a human nature and a divine nature
VI. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Date / Location :680 / Constantinople in Hagia Sophia Church
Participants :Convened by Emperor Constantine IV with 170 bishop present
Outcome :Affirmed that Christ had both a divine and human will ; condemned Pope Honorius for supporting Monothelitism
VII. ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
Date / Location :787 / Nicea in Hagia Sophia Church there
Participants :Convened by Emperor Constantine VI and his mother Irene with 367 bishop present
Outcome :Veneration of icons and statutes declared legitimate; these were restored to the churches
Gloriously situated on the slopes of Mt Mykale, ancient Priene was a marvel of early city planning. Small but breathtaking, the site of its ruins makes a great place to while away a few hours. Nearby Eski Doganbey is an abandoned Greek settlement slowly finding new life as big-city refugees move in. Built on a grid plan ( the type first used by the architect Hippodamos in Miletus 2,500 years ago, Priene is one of the rare ancient cities that managed to preserve its original layout, perhaps because the Romans Weren‘t very interested in the ancient theater, with a seating capacity of 5,000, is regarded as one of the most beautiful of such structures. The five marble seats near the stage were reserved for prominent people in the city government The altar inside it was used for sacrificing animals as votive offerings to Dionysus, the god of wine and theater. A clepsydra (water glass) was used to show the actors how much time remained. Priene frequently played host to Ionian congresses and festivals,and its bouleuterion (council chamber) could house 640 delegates. The Piytaneion near it was used as the administrative headquarters. The town’s most magnificent structure, the temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, was commissioned by Alexander the Great Who conquered Anatolia during a military expedition of 334 BC. The temple was built by the famous architect Pytheos, who also created the Mausoleum in Bodrum. With 10 Ionic columns on one side and six on the other, the structure is still visible from the road far below. The city’s stadium was used for all kinds of sports, including boxing, Wrestling, and the pentathlon. Priene overlooks the plain of the Buyuk Menderes, the river’s Winding path gave the English language the word “‘meander”.
Demeter and Persephone
Another of Priene‘s temples was dedicated to Demeter, goddess of the earth and harvest. According to Ancient Greek mythology, Demeter’s beautiful daughter Persephone Was abducted by Hades, the brother of Zeus and the god of the underworld. Her devastated mother, who was in charge of the changing seasons, stopped work immediately, and life on earth came to a standstill, while her daughter remained underworld. In the end, Persephone’s father Zeus persuaded Hades to return Persephone to her mother. Before she left, Hades tricked Persephone into eating six pomegranete seeds, which meant that she had to spend half of every year in the world and the other half on earth, with her mother. At the end of every winter, Demeter turned the earth green to demonstrate her joy at her daughter’s return, but at the end of each summer, the green gave way to red and brown, reflecting her sorrow at her daughter’s renewed departure.
One of the oldest and most important Ionian cities was Miletus which had nearly a hundred colonies on the Black Sea. A center of education and art, the town originally stood right on the shore before alluvium from the River Menderes (Meander) silted up the area and left it stranded inland. To reach Didyma, the seat of an important oracle in ancient times, people would follow the Sacred Way that ran from Miletus.
The town of many colonies The town of Miletus stood on the banks of the River Menderes, one of the most important rivers of the ancient world which the historian Herodotus dubbed “the laborer”. The English word meander, meaning “to follow a winding course”, was derived from the name of the River Menderes, which followed a convoluted path on its way to the sea. Miletus was originally established by Neleus, the son of the king of Athens. As soon as the Greeks arrived here, their men slaughtered their Carian counterparts and married their wives. Legend has it that the women vowed never to sit down to eat with their new husbands or to call them by their names! The town was famed for its many scientists and intellectuals, including Anaximandros, Anaximenes, Thales and Isidoros (one of the two architects of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul). Probably the town’s most beautiful structure was its theater which is still largely intact today; it was expanded to seat 15,000 people during the Roman period. Above it stands a citadel built during the Byzantine era and re-used during Seljuk times. The Miletians were the first people to establish hegemony over the sea, establishing a string of colonies on the Black Sea coast from Sinop to Trabzon. One of the world’s oldest known synagogues is located in Sardis, to the east of Izmir, but sources reveal that Miletus also housed a synagogue to cater to the religious needs of its large Jewish population.
The oracle and Medusa
At the entrance to the Temple of Apollo in Didyma there stands a Gorgon Medusa, her hair a mass of serpentine curls. According to legend one glance from this woman was enough to turn the onlooker into stone. In Greek, “didyma” means “twin”; it is possible that the town was given this name to refer to the “twin” temples of Artemis (in Selcuk) and of her twin brother Apollo, who had his own temple in Didyma. According to some archeologists, the town’s fame as a center of prophecy preceded the arrival of the Greeks. Certainly, the oracle was second in importance only to the one at Delphi on mainland Greece in Hellenic times. Measuring 109m by Slm, the huge Temple of Apollo was a truly magnificent structure; it could easily have been the eighth wonder of the ancient world had its construction been completed at the time of counting. Over the centuries, it was visited by hundreds of important figures in search of a glimpse into the future. When Alexander the Great arrived to re-consecrate the oracle, the priest in charge of the shrine was able to tell him that he would go on to defeat the Persians. Traditionally, pilgrims would purify themselves with water from the well, and, after sacrificing an animal (usually a goat) to the gods, would start asking questions like: “Will I ever get married?”, “Will I find a new job?” and “What will happen to this country?” Sounds familiar? It looks as if the questions that the questions that people ask fortune-tellers hardly change over time! After the coming of Christianity, the oracle was banned as sacrilegious, and a church Was built inside the still unfinished temple.