Palace of the Porphyrogenitus
The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus, also known as the "Palace of Constantine
Porphyrogenitus" ( _tr. " Tekfur Sarayı") which means "Palace of the Emperor") is the ruins of a 13th century Byzantine palace in the north-western part of the old city of Constantinople(present-day Istanbul, Turkey).
The Palace was constructed during the late 12th or early 13th centuries as part of the palace complex of Blachernae, where the Theodosian Walls join with the later walls of the suburb of
BlachernaeAlthough the palace appears at first glance to be named after Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, the 10th Century emperor, it was built long after his time. It is in fact named after Constantine Palaiologos, a son of the Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos. [Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Pp.746 ] 'Porphyrogenitus', meaning literally 'born to the purple', in this context indicates a child who is heir to the Byzantine throne. The palace served as imperial residence during the final years of the Byzantine Empire.
The palace suffered extensive damage due to its proximity to the outer walls during the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Afterwards, it was used for a wide variety of purposes. During the 16th and 17th century, it housed part of the Sultan's
menagerie. The animals were moved elsewhere by the end of the 17th century, and the building was used as a brothel. From 1719, the Tekfur Saray pottery workshop was constructed, and began to produce ceramic tiles in a style similar to that of İznik tiles, but influenced by European designs and colors. The studio had five kilns and also produced vessels and dishes. [Blair. The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800. Pp.237 ] The project lasted for around a century before going out of business, and by the first half of the 19th century, the building became a poorhouse for Istanbul Jews. In the early 20th century, it was briefly used as a bottle factory, before being abandoned. [Freely. Blue Guide Istanbul. Pp.270] As a result, only the elaborate brick and stone outer façade survives today, but it is the only major surviving example of secular Byzantine architecture. As of 2006, the palace was undergoing extensive restoration.
The Palace was a large three-story building located between the inner and outer fortifications of the northern corner of the Theodosian Walls. The ground floor is an arcade with four arches, which opens into a courtyard overlooked by five large windows on the first floor. The top floor of the structure project above the walls, and has windows on all four sides. On the east is the remnant of a balcony. The roof and all of the floors of the structure have disappeared. The remaining walls are elaborately decorated in geometric designs using red
brickand white marbletypical of the late Byzantine period.
last = Freely
first = John
year = 2000
title = Blue Guide Istanbul
publisher = W. W. Norton & Company
id = ISBN 0393320146
last = Cruikshank
first = Dan
year = 1996
title = Sir Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture.
publisher = Architectural Press
id = ISBN 0750622679
last = Blair
first = Shelia
year = 1996
title = The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800
publisher = Yale University Press
id = ISBN 0300064659
last = Treadgold
first = Warren
year = 1997
title = A History of the Byzantine State and Society
publisher = Stanford University Press
id = ISBN 0804726302
* [http://www.byzantium1200.com/tekfur.html 3D reconstruction of the palace from the "Byzantium 1200" website]
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