Bâbü's-saade (Gate of Felicity)

The Gate of Felicity, whose imposing appearance symbolizes the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire and its ruler, served as the entrance to the private residence of the sultan. Also known as the Gate of the White Eunuchs (Akağalar Kapısı), it was first constructed on the order of Sultan Mehmed II and was originally fronted by four columns; these were later removed and the shape of the gate was changed (an inscription above the gate’s arch commemorates its restoration in 1774). At the very top, in the calligraphic hand of Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808-39), is the Arabic formula called the “Basmala” reading ‘bismi-llahi’r-rahmani’r-rahim’ (“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate”). The calligraphic seal carved into the arch’s keystone belongs to the same sultan, and was inscribed by the calligrapher Rakım Efendi. The raised inscriptions found on both sides of the gate are panegyric for Sultan Abdülhamid I (r. 1774-89). The Gate of Felicity also boasts splendid carved decorations. The Gate of Felicity has two sets of doors with a short passage between them. In this passage are two additional doors: the one on the right leads to the offices of the Chief of the White Eunuchs (also called the Chief of the Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde Ağası)), while the one on the left leads to the White Eunuchs’ Barracks (Akağalar Koğuşu). The Gate of Felicity would be kept open throughout the day. However, as the gate was not only a symbol of the sultanate and the caliphate but also the entrance to the sultan’s private residence, it would by no means be used lightly. The Ottoman throne would be placed before the Gate of Felicity for enthronement ceremonies, the paying of homage to the sultan, and formal holiday festivities. It would also be placed there in times of revolt or discontent, when the Janissaries would be admitted into the Second Courtyard to be received by the sultan.