Commemorating Baghdad

The fourth courtyard of Topkapi palace was the playground of sultans. It was completely secluded from the world, and was perhaps first seen by others only when Topkapi fell out of use. It is littered (is that the right word?) with pavilions, towers, and kiosks built by different sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The external appearances are very individual, but they share the same overall aesthetic. We spent a long time in the courtyard, looking at the Bosphorus, enjoying the stormy weather.

The structure that you see in the photos above is the Baghdad Kiosk, built in 1638 CE to commemorate the successful Baghdad campaign of Murad IV. During these centuries of decline of the Ottoman empire, Murad’s actions were perhaps among the most stabilizing influences for the empire. He fought the Safavid Empire in the 1630s, took control of Beghadad, but eventually confirmed the borders between the Ottoman and Safavid empires which had been agreed to in the 1555 Treaty of Amasya. The border of Iran, Iraq and Turkey even today follows part of this line of control.

We reached the interior of the pavilion by climbing up to the first floor terrace. This is a dazzling room. You can see the stained glass windows, the profusion of tiles, a fireplace with a beaten copper chimney, cupboards with doors inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Perhaps these views will tell you why it is impossible not to pay attention to detail when walking through this palace.