Second Court / Administrative Buildings

The Second Courtyard, also known as the Council Square (Dîvân Meydanı), was laid out in the 1460s shortly after Sultan Mehmed II had conquered the city. It served as an official representation of the Ottoman state, being a ceremonial grounds for state governance. Here were held the ceremonies of royal enthronement (cülûs-ı hümâyûn), formal holiday festivities, the reception of ambassadors, and the stipend paid to the sultan’s household soldiers (`ulûfe dîvânı), among them the Janissary corps. On the right side of the courtyard, behind the portico, are the palace kitchens. On the left side stand the Tower of Justice and the Domed Chamber (Kubbealtı); the latter is where meetings of the Imperial Council (Dîvân-ı Hümâyûn) were held. Near the Domed Chamber stands the External Treasury, currently home to the museum’s weapons collection. In this corner of the courtyard is the Carriage Gate leading to the Harem apartments can also be seen. In the courtyard to the left of the Gate of Salutation are two fountains constructed in the time of Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1703-30), while to the right of the gate are an open-air prayer ground (namazgâh) from the time of Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807) and large fragments of columns dating back to the Byzantine era. Also noteworthy in this courtyard are the Byzantine cisterns-located on the Sultan’s Way. The Sultan’s Way leads through the Gate of Salutation to the Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde). On the Viziers’ Way, which leads to the Domed Chamber, salutation stones mark where dignitaries would stop to perform their salutations.