Sultan Mehmed II (Conqueror) Pavilion/ Treasury Department

The Pavilion of the Conqueror was built in 1462-63 and is located on a point with a commanding and beautiful view of the whole of Sarayburnu. With great mastery, it was constructed on a highly inconvenient slope and follows the plan of Turkish houses containing an external hall. The pavilion is made up of four main rooms and has a central roofed hall with an ablution fountain and a semi-open portico. The overseer of the Treasury Dormitory and of the Inner Palace Treasury was called the “hazîne kethüdası”. Plunder obtained after the Battle of Chaldiran on 23 August 1514 and the conquest of Mamluk Egypt in 1517 enabled Sultan Selim I or “Selim the Grim” (r. 1512-20) (the grandson of Sultan Mehmed II) to greatly enrich the palace treasury. Having thus filled the treasury, Selim commanded: “Let this treasury which I have filled with gold bear the seal of whichever of my successors can thus fill it with loot; otherwise, let it continue to bear my own seal.” And indeed, the external door of the Inner Palace Treasury continued to bear Selim’s seal until the palace was finally converted into a museum. Use of the Royal Treasury (Hazîne-i Hümâyûn) was subject to the sultan’s discretion. The treasury’s gold and silver would be used for administration of the palace, for public works, construction and for philanthropic purposes. Taxes from Egypt effectively constituted the sultan’s private “pocket money” (Ceb-i Hümâyûn) and would be used to cover the expenses of buildings constructed on his order  such as mosques, fountains, and madrasas or schools of theology, some of which have survived to the present. When state finances were strained, such as in times of war, the sultan would dip into the Royal Treasury so as to lend to the state treasury but would never subsequently ask for repayment. The other section of the treasury was an exhibition hall of sorts. Here were exhibited the sultan’s share of plunder, gifts from ambassadors, and precious objects of historical value that had been purchased. Among these objects were gold and silver pots and pans; silk carpets and prayer mats; precious furs; gem-studded clothes and kaftans; feather plumes; armbands; riding equipment; belts; and diamonds, pearls, turquoise, rubies and emeralds. In the 19th century, these precious objects were exhibited to foreign dignitaries in specially constructed showcases; this is now considered to be the first museum-style activity to have been carried out in Turkey. The objects that make up the Royal Treasury continue to be exhibited at the Pavilion of the Conqueror.