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   Turkey > Istanbul > Palace of Topkapi > Audience Chamber
Audience Chamber
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Audience Chamber
Salle du Trône
Arz Odasi
Section 13 on 26

Palace of Topkapi
Outdoor Architecture

Area related : Istanbul

Open daily excepted thursday

The Audience Chamber, also known as Audience Hall or Chamber of Petitions (Arz Odası) is located right behind the Gate of Felicity, in order to hide the view towards the Third Courtyard.

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This square building is an Ottoman kiosk, surrounded by a colonnade of 22 columns, supporting the large roof with hanging eaves. Inside is the main throne room with a dome and two smaller adjacent rooms. This audience hall was also called "Inner Council hall" in contrast to the "outer" Imperial Council hall in the Second Courtyard.

It is an old building, dating from the 15th century, and further decorated under Suleiman I. Here the sultan would sit on the canopied throne and personally receive the viziers, officials and foreign ambassodors, who presented themselves. According to a contemporary account by envoy Cornelius Duplicius de Schepper in 1533:
- " The Emperor was seated on a slightly elevated throne completely covered with gold cloth, replete and strewn with numerous precious stones, and there were on all sides many cushions of inestimable value; the walls of the chamber were covered with mosaic works spangled with azure and gold; the exterior of the fireplace of this chamber of solid silver and covered with gold, and at one side of the chamber from a fountain water gushed forth from a wall."

The viziers came here to present their individual reports to the sultan. Depending on their performance and reports, the sultan showed his pleasure by showering them with gifts and high offices, or in the worst case having them strangled by deaf-mute eunuchs. The chamber was thus a place that officials reporting to the sultan entered without knowing if they would leave it again alive.

The most elaborate ceremonies which took place here where those conducted during the reception of ambassadors who came escorted by officials to kiss the hem of the sultan's skirt. The throne was richly decorated during the ceremonies.

The present throne in the form a baldachin was made by order of Mehmed III. On the lacquered ceiling of the throne studded with jewels are foliage patterns accompanied by the depiction of the fight of a dragon, symbol of power, with simurg, a mythical bird. On the throne there is a cover made of several pieces of brocade on which emerald and ruby plaques and pearls are sown.

The ceilings of the chamber was painted in ultramarine blue and studded with golden stars. The tiles that lined the walls were also blue, white and turqoise. The chamber was further decorated with precious carpets and pillows. This was to impress the visitors and hold them in awe of the power and presence of the sultan. The chamber was renovated in 1723 by Sultan Ahmed III and rebuilt in its present form after it was destroyed by fire in 1856 during the rule of Abülmecid I. Today's interior therefore is very different of how it appeared after completion.

Two doors in front lead out into a porch, another one to the back. The two doors in front were for visitors while the third one was for the sultan himself. The embossed inscriptions at the main visitors' door, having the form of the sultan's monogram and containing laudatory words for Sultan Abdülmecid I, date from 1856. The main door is surmounted by an embossed besmele (the Muslim confession of faith "In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful") dating from 1723. The inscription was added during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III. The tile panels on either side of the door were placed during later repair work.

There is a small fountain at the entrance by Suleiman I. The fountain was used not only for refreshments, but could be used to prevent others from overhearing secret conversations in this room. The fountain was also a symbol of the sultan, the Persian inscriptions calls him "the fountainhead of generosity, justice and the sea of beneficence."

Gifts presented by ambassadors were placed in front of the large window in the middle of the main facade in between the two doors. The Pişkeş Gate to the left (Pişkeş Kapısı, Pişkeş meaning gift brought to a superior) is surmounted by an inscription from the reign of Mahmud II which dates from 1810.

Behind the Audience Chamber on the eastern side is the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force.
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