Language variant : Tekfur Sarayı
Architect : n/a
Completion: 13th c.
Locality : Istanbul
Country : Turkey
Building style : Byzantine
Project on the map (green arrow)
“Tekfur Sarayı, the Palace of the Emperor, also known as the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (born in the purple), is tucked between the inner and outer walls of the Theodosian defences. The word Tekfur is derived from the Armenian ‘tagavor’, or king, which had for centuries been applied by Muslim writers to the Byzantine Emperor and other Christian rulers. The origins of the palace are uncertain, but it was probably built in the late 13th or early 14th C. as an extension of the Blachernae Palace next door.
After the conquest the palace was deserted for some time. John Sanderson, visiting Constantinople just over a century later described it as ‘a fragment, standing memory of the ould Emperiall pallas, with certayne galleries, waist romes, and pillors within itself, [and it] doth well shewe the great power of time the distroyer and overthrower of all, that a prince of the wourld his pallas is now become a lodge for popular oliphants, panthars, and other beasts.’ One of its most popular inmates was a giraffe, a cosa mirabile for Europeans who had never seen one before. De Busbecq, Imperial ambassador some 40 years before Sanderson, was so mortified that the giraffe of the day had died shortly before his arrival that he had it dug up to satisfy himself about outlandish rumours of its size and shape.
Towards the end of the 17th century the palace was converted from a zoo to a brothel; then, in the early 18th C., into the workshop of the famous, but short-lived Tekfur Sarayı potteries whose products, while pretty, never matched the quality of the earlier Iznik potteries. Then at the beginning of the 19th C. it became a home for impoverished Jews.” 
“In the early 20th C., it was briefly used as a bottle factory, before being abandoned. As a result, only the elaborate brick and stone outer façade survives today, the only major surviving example of secular Byzantine architecture. As of July 2010, the palace has been undergoing extensive restoration, and remains closed to the public.” 
1. ^ Jane Taylor, Imperial Istanbul (Iznik – Bursa – Edirne), Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1989, p. 34.
2. ^ John Freely, The companion guide to Istanbul and around Marmara, Companion Guides, Woodbridge, 2000, p. 270.
Ed. Adzhoa Makkonen