While strolling through ancient Istanbul, we repeatedly come across fascinating historical sites whose age can be counted in centuries and even millennia. This time, I would like to tell you about Tekfur Palace, which has been known since Byzantine times.
A bit of history
On the official website and in some other sources, the building is called the Tekfur Palace, but I have come across other names for this landmark. For example, in a major city guide, it is referred to as the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus. This unusual word refers to the sons of emperors who were born during the reign of their fathers.
The palace building was constructed in the 13th or 14th century. It is the only surviving structure of the Blachernae Palace complex that once stood here. After the conquest of Constantinople, the building was used as a menagerie for exotic animals, and later it served as a brothel.
From the 18th century, a glass and ceramic production workshop operated within the walls of the former palace. This exhibition space is dedicated to that period of the building's life. Today, there is an observation deck on the palace roof, and several samples of Byzantine column capitals are installed in its courtyard. The Tekfur Palace is associated with an interesting story: it is believed that an 86-carat diamond was found in the rubbish dump of this complex.
By the beginning of the 20th century, only a few walls of the Tekfur Palace remained. Online, you can find photos of the building without windows and a roof. Reconstruction, carried out in the mid-20th century, helped to preserve the structure. The historical exhibition has been operating here since 2019.
Getting there by Metro
The palace is equidistant from two tram lines. To reach it, you can exit at the Ayvansaray (T5 line) or Edirnekapı (T4 line) stops. The Topkapı-Ulubatlı metro station is a 20-minute walk from the palace.
Today, the former palace premises houses a ceramics museum. In autumn 2022, admission to the exhibition cost 24 Turkish lira. Payment could be made in cash or by bank card.
Even though the Tekfur Palace is located away from the main city attractions, there are interesting places to visit after exploring it. For example, the unusual Balat district is within walking distance of the complex. Its distinctive feature is its vibrant residential houses, against which numerous tourists like to take photos.
Have a nice trip!