Palaces and Mansions in and around İstanbul
Located on the European side of the Bosphorus in İstanbul, Dolmabahçe was originally a bay. In the 17thcentury, under the reign of Sultan Ahmet I and his successor Osman II, the bay was gradually filled in order to enlarge the imperial garden. This process led to it becoming known as the ‘dolmabahçe’, literally meaning the filled garden. Also in the 17th century a palace complex known as the Beşiktaş Waterfront Palace was built inside of the garden. However, in the 19th century, during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid II, the initial wooden palace was demolished, and the Dolmabahçe Palace was built in the grounds as the main imperial palace. The royal family moved there, abandoning their long-time home at Topkapı Palace in Fatih. Dolmabahçe Palace was built by the famous Balyan family, by Nikoğos and Karabet Balyan, and it was one of the best examples of that Neo-Ottoman style, that merged Italian and French Renaissance artistic styles both with Baroque and with Ottoman architecture.
Situated in the historical peninsula of İstanbul, in Fatih District, Topkapı Palace served as both administrative headquarters and imperial residence during the most glorious period of the Ottoman Empire. The first buildings of the Palace were built between 1451 -1481, just after the conquest of İstanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Opening onto the famous Hagia Sophia square, the Imperial Gate, Bab-I Humayun, leads to the first court, where the Hagia Irene Church and various pavilions along with the oldest building, the Çinili Köşk are to be found. The first court leads to the second court with the Middle Gate, Bab’us Selam, where the palace buildings can be found. A third court opens onto the Harem Section, where the imperial family lived with their extended families. And finally, the fourth court that is entered through the Treasury Room, with a covered path is located at very end of the complex.
Located on the Asian shore of Bosphorus, in today’s Küçüksü neighbourhood in Beykoz, the area where Küçüksu Pavilion was built was initially enjoyed as gardens by the imperial family. At the beginning of the 18th century, during the reign of Sultan Mahmut firstly a two-storey timber palace was built. The first palace was also used by Sultans Selim III and Mahmut II, however, later, during the reign of Abdülmecid in the 19th century, the wooden pavilion was demolished in order to build a new one. The Küçüksu Pavilion was designed and built by Nikoğos Balyan, a member of the famous Balyan family. It is relatively small pavilion built for short stays for the country excursions of the Sultans or for hunting trips to the woodlands nearby.
Located in today’s Beşiktaş district of İstanbul, the Ihlamur valley was once a popular picnic site in the 18th century. In the 19th century, however, during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid, along with many other palaces and pavilions commissioned to be built by the Balyan Family, Ihlamur Pavilions were also constructed. The pavilions consist of two buildings, Ceremony Pavilion and Retinue Pavilion both display baroque features.
The fourth largest palace in İstanbul, following Dolmabahçe, Topkapı and Üsküdar, Aynalıkavak Pavilion is the only remaining building of the Aynalıkavak Palace. Located on the shore of Golden Horn near the old shipyard, it was also known as the Tersane (the shipyard) palace. The first buildings of the complex were built in the 17th century, however, by the end of the 18th century, due to many new additions, the pavilion became known as a palace. Aynalıkavak Pavilion is one these buildings, thought to originally date from the reign of Sultan Ahmet III. It was Sultan Selim III, who tore down many of the buildings of the palace in order to enlarge the shipyard. The same Sultan also spent the majority of his time at the Aynalıkavak Pavilion, where he composed many of his Classical Ottoman music pieces. Dedicated in his honour, some couplets were by engraved on the windows by a famous Ottoman calligrapher.
Chalet (Şale) kiosk is one of the many buildings of the Yıldız Palace complex that was built in 1880 for Sultan Abdülhamid II who left Dolmabahçe Palace, and settled at the Yıldız Palace. The palace was extended by additional buildings designed and built by famous Italian architect of the era, Riamonda D’Aronco. The Şale Kiosk hosted many important visitors such as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Palaces and Mansions Outside of İstanbul
İshak Pasha Palace
İshak Pasha Palace is located 5 km east of Doğubeyazıt in the remote south east of the country, right on the Silk Route. It was built on one of the hills of a mountain, and is considered to be a unique example of the The Tulip Period of the 18th century. The architectural style of the complex is a mixture of Ottoman, Persian, Armenian and Seljuk traditions. The façades were decorated with cut stone and bas reliefs that represent artistic tradition of the Seljuks. Wood was also used as a decorative element, especially in to build the beams that were constructed as three-dimensional sculptures, having symbolic meaning in Turkish art. The complex was completed in 1784 according to the script on the door of the Harem section, by İshak Pasha. İshak Pasha was the first person to discover and adopt a heating system inspired by the bath system. The building was severely damaged during the 19th century because of wars and an earthquake; nevertheless, in 1992 ministry of culture initiated a restoration program and later in 2000 the palace was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list.
One of the most beautiful examples of vernacular architecture of 19th century in the Ottoman Period, The Hazeranlar Mansion is located in Yalıboyu, in Amasya. The mansion was built in 1865 for Hazeran Hanım, who was a famous local woman. After it was renovated, the Mansion was converted into an ethnography museum in 1986.
Located in the north eastern of Türkiye, Safranbolu gives us the opportunity to study Ottoman Period residences dating from the 18th century in a town. Carved by rivers, the sloping geography of Safranbolu renders the town with the appearance of a series of terraces. The houses are generally two or three storey buildings built with a combination of wood and stone. The ground floors were built with stone, as was the case with many of the 18th century Ottoman houses. Supported with buttresses, the upper storeys are spacious despite their small lots. Because the upper floors were built in order to let in the maximum amount of sunlight, the axes of the houses are slightly shifted, between storeys, creating bizarre looking buildings with a slightly twisted appearance.
Fortresses and Castles
İstanbul City Walls
Whether you approach İstanbul by the sea or by land the city walls are still a spectacular sight. Originally built by Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Great, the walls of Constantinople were a series of defences that encompassed the city on all sides and were the most famous such examples of the late antique and the mediaeval world. The Marmara walls secured the southern approach while the walls on the Golden Horn protected the northern side of the city. On the west, running approximately 6 km from the Sea of Marmara to the upper reaches of the Golden Horn, the land walls of Constantinople protected the city from its enemies and withstood many sieges for more than a thousand years until the city was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453. Partially standing today, this elaborate system of inner and outer walls, towers and moats, for the most part, were constructed by the Emperor Theodosius II in the first half of the fifth century. Restored by the Ottomans many times in the course of history, today the city walls of Constantinople are standing as the reminders of the glory of the imperial past of İstanbul.
The Maiden’s Tower
The Maiden's Tower - Kız Kulesi in Turkish, also known as Leander's Tower since the mediaeval Byzantine period, is a tower lying on a small islet located at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus close to the coast of Üsküdar in İstanbul. A customs station for ships coming from the Black Sea was built on a small rock in front of Üsküdar, ancient Chrysopolis. The islet was connected to the Asian shore through a defence wall, whose remains are still visible under the water. During the conquest of İstanbul in 1453 by the Ottomans, the tower was hosting a Byzantine garrison. The tower is often mistakenly referred to Leander's Tower in reference to the legend of Hero and Leander. The tower was destroyed during an earthquake in 1509 and burned in 1721. Then it was used as a lighthouse. The tower was used as a quarantine station for a while, and in 1832 was restored by Sultan Mahmud II. Restored again by the harbour authority in 1945, the most recent restoration began in 1998 for the James Bond movie “The World Is Not Enough”.
The interior of the tower has been transformed into a popular café and restaurant, with an excellent view of the former Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman capital. Private boats make trips to the tower several times a day.
The Galata Tower is one of İstanbul’s best known visual icons, dominating the districts of Beyoğlu and Karaköy from its elevated position.
Although the exact construction date of the tower is not certain, it is possible that the tower was first built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian around 507 CE. The tower was known as the Tower of Christ to the Genoese, while the Byzantines referred to it as the Great Tower. During the Genoese period, the tower took on its current shape, when the Galata neighbourhood was inhabited by merchants from Genoa, who ran a series of economic and trade posts in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
In 1509, the tower was damaged due to an earthquake, but was restored by Ottoman architect, Hayreddin, who was also the architect for the renovation of Sultan Bayezid II complex in Edirne. During the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent, the tower was used to accommodate prisoners who were sentenced to work at the Kasımpaşa Naval Dockyard. By the end of the 16th century, an observatory was added at the very top by the astrologer, Takiyüddin Efendi, but the tower become a prison once again during the reign of Sultan Murat III during 1546 and 1595.
In the 17th century, the tower was briefly used by the Mehter Band, the Ottoman military band, and afterwards became a fire observatory in 1717. In 1794, a fire destroyed the tower, but it was restored again, and a cumba (protruding balcony) was added. In 1831, the tower was once again ravaged by fire, and once more restored, with the addition of two more floors and a conical-shaped tip.
One of the interesting tales about the Galata Tower, is about the legendary Ottoman aviator Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi. According to Evliya Çelebi, the famous Ottoman traveller, Hezârfen Çelebi flew from the top of the tower to Üsküdar with wings attached to his arms. Due to this spectacular feat, Sultan Murad Khan allegedly grew suspicious of the man and sent him to exile in Algeria.
Today, the 66.90 m high tower serves as a tourist attraction, for visitors who enjoy a spectacular 360-degree view of İstanbul from the balcony.
Diyarbakır Castle and Fortress
Built first in the 3rd century during the Roman Period, the fortress of Diyarbakır has been expanded and fortified over the years. Supported with the local basalt stone, the walls of the fortress are the second widest and longest defence walls after The Great Wall of China. The fortress of Diyarbakır was added to UNESCO World Heritage list in 2015.
Built in the 9th century BCE by the ancient kingdom of Urartu, the fortress of Van is located on the eastern side of Lake Van, over the ruins of Tushpa, the capital of the Urartians. The castle has been controlled by Medes, Achaemenids, Armenians, Parthians, Romans, Sassanid, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks, Safavids, Afsharids, Ottomans and Russians over the years. Each civilisation that controlled the castle through the ages left its own imprint on the structure. These range from Xerxes I’s inscription from the 5th century BCE to a mosque built by Sultan Suleyman in the 15th century.
Located in Van province on the Van-Hakkari road, Hoşap Castle was built in the 17th century. The name derives from beautiful water, and refers to the rivers nearby. The castle was built by the chief of Mahmudi tribe, Sarı Süleyman Mahmudi, and was used until the Tanzimat reforms of the 19th century that reorganized the provincial administration.
The Maiden’s Castle
Kızkalesi (Maiden’s Castle) is today situated on an island in Mersin Province, 300 metres away from the Mediterranean shore. First built in the 4th century BCE, the castle has been extensively renovated in the 13th century. The north and west side walls that were built by them are representative examples of authentic ashlar masonry. The castle was later captured by, first, by Karamanid, an Anatolian emirate, and finally, by the Ottomans in the 14th century.
Inns and Bazaars
Sultan Inn (Alaeddin Inn)
Built in 1229 by Sultan Alaeddin Kaykubat I, during Seljuk Period, the Sultanhani (Sultan Inn) is one of the finest examples of Seljuk architecture. The inn is especially important both for its engravings located on its front gate and its square stone kiosk-mosque located in the middle of the courtyard.
The Grand Bazaar
Located on the historical peninsula of İstanbul in the Fatih district, The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest covered bazaars in the world. It covers an area of 30,700 square metres and is home to more than 4000 shops. The bazaar was first built in the 15th century after the conquest of İstanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, later, in 1701, it was expanded by Sultan Süleyman the Great and the bazaar reached its present dimensions. The bazaar has suffered many earthquakes and fires over the years, nevertheless the bazaar never lost its grandeur or importance. The shops we see today were constructed in 1896 after the last earthquake. Today the bazaar is still being used as a shopping mall that employs 26,000 people. It is visited by between 250,000 – 400,000 visitors daily, and it is one of the most visited historical places in the world.
The Spice Bazaar
Th Spice Bazaar, is the second most visited bazaar in in İstanbul and is located in the Eminönü quarter. It is also known as the Egyptian bazaar because it was built with revenues from the Egyptian province of the Ottomans in 1660, as a part of the New Mosque Complex commissioned by Hatice Turban Sultan. Although the bazaar continues to be the spice trade centre of İstanbul, there are many other shops selling Turkish delight and other sweets, jewellery, souvenirs, along with dried fruits and nuts.
Ali Paşa Bazaar
It was built by Mimar (Architect) Sinan in 1569 by the order of the last grand vizier of Sultan Süleyman, Herseki Semiz Ali Paşa. The bazaar is 270 metres long and is home to around 130 shops. Today, clothes, footwear, bags and other household items as well as souvenirs from Edirne are sold at the bazaar.
Rüstem Pasha Inn
Another historical treasure built by Mimar (Architect) Sinan in 1554 by the order of Rüstem Pasha, the inn is a fine example of 16th century Ottoman architecture. The inn is a two-storey building and has shops on its façade. Despite being closed today, the inn was renovated in 1972 and used as a hotel for a period.
Madrasa (Theological Schools)
Built in 1251 by Celalettin Karatay, the Emir of Konya during the Seljuk Period. The madrasa is especially famous for its tiles and decorations. It was converted to the Museum of Tile Works, where Seljuk tiles, decors and artifacts are on display.
Built in 1271 the Gök Madrasa is famous for its double minarets rising from both sides of the main entrance. The minarets have engravings of animals, stars and trees. The sky-blue tiles that were used on the building gives it its name, because gök means sky. The building has one courtyard with a fountain and pool that is entered from the main entrance. The courtyard has two divisions one leading to the masjid (mescit the prayer room) and the other to classrooms.
The Twin Minaret Madrasa
The Twin Minaret Madrasa (Çifte Minareli Medresesi) is located in Erzurum, in the eastern part of Türkiye. Although it is not certain, the madrasa is believed to be built in the 13th century during the Seljuk Period. The madrasa is the largest example of its kind and also a very important building in regards to its architectural and decorative features. As a two storey building, the madrasa covers an area of 35 by 40 metres. The 26-metre twin minarets built of brick that give the monument its name, are located on the northern façade. They sit on octagonal bases set atop a square pier. A calligraphic medallion with Allah, the Prophet and the four Caliphs are inscribed on the upper set and the base is decorated with a palm tree relief.
Ayasofya Grand Mosque
Located on the historical peninsula of İstanbul, in Sultanahmet district, Hagia Sophia was initially built in 537, in Constantinople as it then was, the capital of the eastern Roman Empire. It was designed to be the state church of Roman Empire and was commissioned by the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian. The church is widely regarded as the epitome of the Byzantine architecture, for in its time, it had the largest interior space of any building in the known world. The building was designed by Isodoros, an architect and mathematician from Miletos. The Hagia Sophia church was later converted into a mosque after the conquest of İstanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. The interior of the church, along with the bells, altar, iconostasis, were removed and mosaics were covered with plaster according to the Muslim religion that prohibits figurative art, while Islamic religious features such as a minbar and minarets were added. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum. As a legacy of the Christian and Muslim culture, Hagia Sophia served as one of the most remarkable museums of the world until 2020. Hagia Sophia was reopened to worship as Ayasofya Grand Mosque with the Presidential Decree in July 2020 and it serves as the world heritage of mankind as a whole.
Aya Irini (Hagia Irene)
Located on the first courtyard of Topkapı Palace, in the historical peninsula of İstanbul, Hagia Irene church was thought to have been originally built in the 4th century. Although the church is generally attributed to Constantine I, there are other sources that claim the site was already home to an older church. Hagia Irene served as the state church of Constantinople until the first Hagia Sophia was built in 360. Hagia Irene was rebuilt in 548 by the Emperor Justinian I and later in 740, after the earthquake of Constantinople it was renovated and decorated with mosaics and frescos during the reign of Constantine V. After the Ottoman conquest of İstanbul in 1453, the church was enclosed within the walls of the Topkapı Palace and started to be used as an arsenal. From the beginning of the 20th century until the 1970s the church was used as the Military Museum and was later converted into a concert hall for classical music performances.
Kariye Museum (Chora Church)
Located in Edirnekapı quartier of İstanbul, Kariye is where the original Chora Church was built outside of the city walls of Constantinople as part of a rural monastery complex. The first name of the church was Church of the Holy Saviour in the Country Later when the city walls were extended and the church was incorporated within the city limits, it kept its name just as Chora. The church was rebuilt and took its present form in the 12th century by Maria Dukaina, mother-in-law of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Komnenos. Later, in the 14th century the famous mosaics and frescos were added by the powerful Byzantine statesman Theodore Metochites. The mosaics of the church are one of the foremost examples of Palaiologan Renaissance art. After the conquest of İstanbul, the church was converted into Kariye Mosque and the frescos and mosaics were covered with plaster. In 1945 the mosque was converted into a museum and thanks to a long restoration program the frescos were uncovered. Kariye Mosque, served as a museum until 2020, as another extensive restoration work period has started.
Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque
Located in the Fatih district on Sultanahmet Square, Sultanahmet Mosque or the Blue Mosque is an Ottoman era mosque that is still being used. The mosque was constructed in the 17th century, between 1609-1616 by Sultan Ahmet I. The Sultanahmet Mosque has a dazzling interior decoration. It is well known for its high quality blue-dominated İznik tiles. The lower levels are decorated with more than 20,000 tiles, in more than 50 different tulip designs. Another significant feature of the mosque is its 6 minarets, in accordance with its grandeur, and overwhelming interior decoration, the high number of minarets adds to its magnificence and splendour.
One of the most important imperial mosques of the Ottoman era, Süleymaniye Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Suleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent) and the work was undertaken by the great master Architect Sinan. Built upon a hill that dominates both the eastern and western sides of Constantinople, Süleymaniye Mosque is imposing by the nature of its location and its vast size. It was the largest mosque in İstanbul until the Çamlıca Mosque was built in 2019.
Located on Akdamar Island in Lake Van, in Van province on the eastern side of Türkiye, Akdamar Church was built between 915 – 921. The church was commissioned by Gagik I Ardzruni, the Armenian King and the work was undertaken by architect Bishop Manuel. It is built from red coloured cut tufa stone and has a four-lobbied clover-like, cross-shaped plan which is called the “Hripsime Type”. The exterior of the church was decorated with reliefs that represent religious themes. They are considered to be amongst the foremost examples of mediaeval art. The interior was also decorated with frescos that depict scenes from the Bible. The church was converted into a museum in 2007, however the church is opened for religious ceremonies once a year.
Church of St. Nicholas
Located in the Mediterranean Türkiye, the Church of St. Nicholas is an ancient East Roman basilica church of ancient city Myra. It was built in 520 CE upon the monumental tomb of St Nicholas, today more widely celebrated as the famous Santa Claus or Father Christmas. The church is regarded as one of the most important Byzantine structures in Türkiye, not just because of its religious significance but also because of its architectural importance and remarkable frescos.
Located on the Zigana Mountains in Trabzon province, on the northern Black Sea coast of Türkiye, Sümela Monastery is an Orthodox religious complex. Although the date of the foundation of the monastery is not clear, it is generally dated back to the 4th century, to the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I. Constructed on rocks reached by a path through the forest, the monastery is a beautiful building famous for its frescoes, depicting biblical scenes of Christ and the Virgin Mary dating from the 18th century. Although the monastery was abandoned in 1923 and became a museum, on 15 August 2010, an Orthodox Mass was held for the first time since 1923.
The square mosque with its single great dome and four slender minarets is a masterpiece of architecture and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The most famous architect of the Ottoman period is undoubtedly Architect Sinan, who lived in the 16th century, during the peak of the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Süleyman The Magnificent. Selimiye Mosque is located in Edirne; ancient Hadrianapolis, and a former capital of the Ottoman Empire before İstanbul. Sinan himself referred to Selimiye Mosque as his “masterpiece”. He constructed Selimiye Mosque (1568 – 1575) when he was 80 years old, during the reign of Sultan Selim II.
The location of the mosque suggests Sinan was also a great city planner as the mosque can be seen from considerable distances. This mosque is the culmination of his centralized-domed plans, the great central dome rising on eight massive columns in between which are impressive, recessed arcades, and this is the best example of any mosque with eight columns. There are elegant domes, reaching to the heavens, and towering, slim minarets that are characteristic of Ottoman mosque architecture. Few mosques, however, are as visually stunning and architecturally significant as the Selimiye Mosque. It is a huge complex and not only a mosque, it measures 190 x 130 metres and is composed of a mosque, two square madrasas, an arasta (shopping arcade) and a theological school. The dome stands on eight muqarnas domes that are supported by eight large columns. The muqarnas step outward and rises, creating a corbelled effect, and allowing for a more open space below, in order to create a vision directly towards the dome without being interrupted by piers.
Hacı Bayram Mosque
Hacı Bayram Mosque is in the district located at the edge of the Ankara Citadel, in Ulus. This area, where Hacı Bayram Mosque and Augustus Temple are located, has a traditional historic layout which also contains Ottoman and Early Republican Period buildings, such as the first parliament building of Türkiye dating from 1923. The district is located on a hill which was originally a tumulus. This area had been the Acropolis of ancient Ankyra, dating from the 8th century BCE, and the place has been sacred to both pagan and Muslim people as the latter built upon the site and remains of the former.
Hacı Bayram Mosque is one of the most important mosques of Ankara, and it is still a prominent mosque which dates back to the 15th century. It was renovated in the 18th century and was converted to match the characteristics of a later period mosque. The most significant feature of the mosque is that it was built without a dome, but instead a wooden ceiling was used to cover the mosque. It was built by the architect Mehmet Bey.
Cisterns and Aqueducts
Basilica Cistern is the largest surviving underground water storage structure in İstanbul. The cistern is located on the First Hill, southwest of Hagia Sophia. At this location, prior to constructing the cistern, a great basilica stood which was built between the 3rd and the 4th centuries during the Early Roman Age as a commercial, legal, and artistic centre. This structure was destroyed by a fire in 476. The Basilica Cistern was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I around 542. The cistern was used to store water for the Great Palace, surrounding buildings, gardens, courtyards, and palaces. The water collected in the cistern was delivered via 20 km long aqueducts from the Belgrade forest. Also known as the Yerebatan Palace (Yerebatan Sarayı) it has dimensions of 138 x 64 m and is supported by 336 columns which were brought here from various ruins. The water capacity of the cistern is about 100,000 tonnes. The cistern, which later provided water for Topkapı Palace, was the only ancient cistern that remained in use until recent times. The cistern had renovation in 1985, wooden walking platforms were added and, since 1987, it has been serving as a museum.
Uzunkemer (The Long Aqueduct)
The Long Aqueduct is part of the Kırkçeşme Water Supply System which was constructed by Architect Sinan in 1563 during the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. It was the largest project undertaken by this famous architect. The structures of this line were damaged in the great floods of the same year and rapid repairs were carried out. For this reason, it is assumed that Kırkçeşme water system was completed in 1564. This system collects surface water around the Belgrade Forest in the north of İstanbul and brings into the city. The system consists of two main branches known as the western and eastern branches. The Long Aqueduct is in the western line. The whole system is comprised of 33 monumental aqueducts. The Long Aqueduct is one of these aqueducts and is made up of 97 arches. It is 711 metres in length and 25 metres high.
Kırıkkemer (The Broken Aqueduct)
The Broken Aqueduct (Kırıkkemer) is also part of Kırıkçeçme Water Supply System which was completed 1564 by the great architect Sinan. The Kırkçeşme water system includes 55,374 m of conduit lines, with 33 aqueducts. It gathers the water sources of northern part of İstanbul and has two branches, namely the eastern branch and the western branch. The Broken Aqueduct is part of the eastern branch of the line and is located in Kemerburgaz. It is a three-level aqueduct, which makes it the highest aqueduct of the system and is 207 metres length and 35 metres high. It is known that three of the arches are remains from the late Roman period. It is called Kırık (broken) or Eğri (curved) Aqueduct because it has a 90 degrees sharp turn after a certain point.
The Valens Aqueduct
The Valens Aqueduct is part of the ancient water supply system of İstanbul. Its remains form part of the most extensive water supply system known from the ancient world which is the Thracian Water Supply System. The water was delivered from the Thracian peninsula by the Valens Aqueduct to the heart of the city and reached as far as the Nymphaeum Maximum in the Theodosius Forum (Beyazıt Square) and finally filled the Binbirdirek Cistern. The construction was completed during the reign of Roman Emperor Valens (364-378). The original total length of the structure is estimated to be about 971 metres and it is 27 metres high. The system continued to operate throughout the mediaeval period, but the supply line was broken several times by earthquakes, and military invasions. In the15th century (during the period of Sultan Mehmet II) the aqueduct was integrated into the main water supply line of the city.
Hospitals and Baths
Divriği Mosque and Hospital
A remarkable building that combines a mosque and a hospital. The Divriği Mosque and Hospital is located on the slopes below the Divriği Castle, in Sivas Province. The two-storey hospital was founded in 1228-1229, by Turan Melek, Ahmet Shah’s wife, and designed by the architect Hürrem Shah, along with the mosque that was founded by Ahmet Shah. The hospital has also a tomb section were Ahmet Shah and Turan Melek were buried. The complex is famous for its sophisticated technique of vault construction and carved decorations. Flamboyant decoration adorns the portals, mihrab, minbar and the piers. In addition to its architectural features, it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List with its rich examples of Anatolian traditional stonework.
Darüşşifa (Hospital and Asylum)
Located in Amasya along the Black Sea coast of Türkiye, Darüşşifa can generally be described as a health or wellness centre that contains both a hospital and an asylum. It was built in the beginning of the 14th century by İldiz Hatun, in the name of her husband Sultan Olcayto, during the reign of the Ilkhanates. Established within the tradition of charitable foundations in Turkish-Islamic tradition, it was a medical institution for both treatment and education, where patients were treated free of charge. The literal meaning of darüşşifa is the door of health. The building is comprised of vaulted halls, vaulted rooms, a courtyard with archways on two opposing sides. The building was modelled after the classical Madrasa. Sabuncuzade Şerafeddin bin Ali was a famous doctor, who was educated and later became a doctor at the institution. He was famous for his book titled Kitab-ül Cerrahiya-i İlhaniyye (The Surgery Book of the İlkhanate). People with mental disorders were treated here with music, hence the building still maintains its musical tradition. Since 1997 it has been used as the Municipal Academy of Music.
Bursa Ancient Thermal Baths
A historical town in the north west of Türkiye, Bursa or ancient Prusa is famous for, amongst many other things, its natural hot spring baths. These baths are spread all over the village of Çekirge, which is still famous today for its thermal hotels and baths. The ancient baths of Çekirge were built in the 6th century during the reign of Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I. Later in the Ottoman period, in 1511, the Byzantine domed baths were renovated and enlarged by Sultan Beyazıt II. The ancient thermal baths are still being enjoyed to this day by visitors. There are many historical Turkish baths, where people enjoy the ‘silver water’ of Bursa, coming from the legendary Mysian Mount Olympus.
İsmail Bey Baths
Located near the İstanbul Gate of İznik, a small hammam (Turkish bath) is believed to have been the private bathhouse of a local notable, İsmail Bey. The baths were built between the 15th -16th centuries and today they are famous for the architecture of their domes.
The German Fountain
Located on the Sultanahmet Square in the historical peninsula of İstanbul, the German Fountain, also known as the Kaiser Fountain, is one of the many historical fountains in the city. The fountain was made piece by piece, between 1988-1901 in Germany and shipped to İstanbul, where it was assembled. The fountain was built as a gift from the German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II. The octagonal, neo-byzantine style fountain has a dome, decorated with golden mosaics and supported by eight columns. The dome’s ceiling is decorated with golden mosaics.
Mihrişah Sultan Fountain
Built in 1806 by Sultan Selim III on behalf of his mother Mihrişah Sultan, the fountain is located in the Küçüksu Pavilion of Küçüksu district. Although its architect is unknown, the building is famous for its appearance in old Bosphorus drawings thanks to its location on the shore of the Bosphorus.