Library of Ahmet III / Enderun Library

The Library of Sultan Ahmed III Also known as the Inner Palace Library owing to its location in the courtyard where the palace’s inner circle resided, the Library of Sultan Ahmed III is located at the centre of the Inner Palace Courtyard, just behind the Audience Chamber.  It is considered a masterpiece of the architecture of the Tulip Period (1718-30). Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1703-30), a calligrapher and bibliophile, had the library built and named after himself in 1718. He had the structure put up in place of the Pool Pavilion, a work of the master architect Sinan that was built on the order of Sultan Selim II (r. 1566-74). In building the library, Ahmed III made it possible for the officials of the Inner Palace to profit from the books found in the palace treasuries. Though the library is a sign of the importance attributed to scholarship by the people of the court, it is hardly the only such sign. The presence in the palace of two schools (that of the Inner Palace and that of the Harem) also shows that this was an environment suitable to learning. Nonetheless, the library enabled the many invaluable works in the Inner Treasury, the Privy Room Treasury, and the Harem to be concentrated in a single space and thus better preserved; and this is exactly what is mentioned in the inscription found on the library. On the library’s deed of endowment it is stated that the removal from the palace of any book in the library is prohibited, thus providing precious insight concerning how it was considered a library should be managed. The library’s lighting is provided by two rows of 32 windows; this arrangement created a welllit environment suitable for the reading of books, as well as preventing dampness. The library’s doors and window shutters are excellent examples of Ottoman mother-of-pearl and ivory inlay. The tiles in the interior are also elegant examples of the Turkish art of the period. The fountain standing before the library is also a work of the early 18th century. In 1966 the library’s manuscripts were moved to the Mosque of the Aghas of the Inner Palace which is now the Topkapı Palace Library. The library’s deed of endowment, the inventory of the works and the shovel with which the library’s ground was broken (the same shovel used to break the ground for the Mosque of Sultan Ahmed III) continue to be preserved.