Third courtyard

Pause now to consider the unlikely purpose once served by the third courtyard which was primarily a large school for civil servants when it was first built. The teenage boys who studied here were Christians who were trained to administer the empire despite having been taken captive, an extraordinary idea that actually worked very well for the first couple of centuries after it was introduced by Sultan Mehmed II. Most of the rooms that ring the square served different functions within this school.

However, the first building that you come to when you pass through the Gate of Felicity is the Chamber of Petitions (Arz Odasi) or Throne Room, a lovely pavilion, largely dating back to the early 16 th – century reign of Sultan Selim I but renovated by Sultans Ahmed III and Mahmud II. Here the sultan would listen to the Grand Vizier’s reports after the meetings of the Divan, and receive foreign ambassadors whose gifts would be placed outside the window for him to assess. The gold that once plated the walls was sold to help with the financing of the Dolmabahce Palace, but the pavilion is now used to display a magnificent throne cover, cushion and curtain embroidered with gold wire, silver thread, pearls, rubies, and diamonds.

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