Tekfur Palace Tile Museum
Tekfur Palace Tile Museum (AKA Palace of the Porphyrogenitus or Blachernae)
After moving from Rome -the capital of Roman Empire- to Constantinople, Emperor Constantine built a huge palace in modern day Sultanahmet area.
Called as the Great Palace of Constantinople, it gained its legendary beauty after some extensions built during Emperor Justinian reign. The palace had a small Hippodrome in which horse races were held, a polo field, churches, mansions and gardens.
The only thing that survived to this day is ground decorations which are being exhibited in The Museum of Great Palace Mosaics.
Hippodrome and Great Palace of Constantinople
You may see the Hippodrome of Constantinople in the center of the picture. The Great Palace is the complex of buildings on the right side of the Hippodrome.
From the Great Palace to the Palace of Blachernae
Its world famous beauty lost its charm as it started to wear off in 11th century. Palace of Blachernae, originally consisted of a couple of mansions and extended in time, was built in modern day Ayvansaray district.
Even though the Great Palace remained standing, some emperors such as Justinian II and Manuel I Komnenos preferred to live there. With its walls and pillars covered with reliefs, gold and silver; this palace was praised to the skies by historiographers of Byzantine period.
When Constantinople, the most populous and most civilized city of the Middle Ages was invaded by Latins between years of 1204-1261, the Great Palace fell into ruin completely. Known as “Tekfur Sarayı” today, Palace of Blachernae was the only palace that emperors used permanently after the collapse of the Great Palace.
Yet, Palace of Blachernae was also affected by the plunder during Sack of Constantinople (1204) The magnificent throne that jewelled with precious stones in the palace was gone.
After the Latin Occupation between 1204-1261, Byzantine Empire could survive only like a shadow of its past. They were using only earthenware even in feasts in the palace. it seemed flamboyance of the past was gone for ever. Ottomans found a city that couldn’t pick up its pieces after the devastation occured 200 years ago when they captured Constantinople in 1453.
Palace of Blachernae in Ottoman Era
After visiting the city in the early periods of Ottoman Istanbul, Petrus Gyllius, a Byzantine historian, reported that the palace had still been standing. Moreover, Piri Reis, a famous Ottoman navigator, portrayed this palace in his map. According to some historians, exotic animals such as elephants and giraffes that were used in feasts in Istanbul were fed in the gardens of this palace.
Today, there is only one building (Palace of Porphyrogenitus) left from Palace of Blachernae. The palace that was depicted in history is much more bigger.
The Palace is called in different names in various sources. It is possible to see that it is called as the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (referring to Constantine VII) in some sources instead of its original name, Palace of Blachernae. Yet, Turkish name of the palace has always been Tekfur Palace (Palace of the Sovereign).
Tekfur Sarayi (Palace) Museum in Istanbul
Restoration of Palace of the Porphyrogenitus
Tekfur Palace was in ruins and was closed to visit for many years. Restoration was finished in 2018 but it was not certain whether it would serve or not. In 2019, the palace was opened to visit as “the Tile Museum”.
Ottomans founded a tile workshop at this palace in 18th century to revive tile art that was at its peak in the rise of the empire but began to decline afterwards. The walls of Ferruh Kethuda Mosque, located in Balat neighborhood, was decorated with tiles that was produced in this place.
Tekfur Palace Tile Museum exhibits Turkish ceramics and glass art referring to that Ottoman period.
Tekfur Palace Tile Museum Entrance Fee 2019
Tekfur Palace tile museum does not require any entrance fee as of 2019. You can see this beautiful museum that exhibits glass, pot and tile examples of Ottoman period for free.
Tekfur Palace Opening Hours
Tile Museum in Tekfur Palace is open from 09:00 in the morning until 17:00 in the evening.
Where is the Tekfur Palace and How to get there?
Tekfur Palace is located in Ayvansaray neighbourhood, in the district of Fatih in Istanbul.
If you want to go by bus, you can get off the bus at Balat Hospital Bus Station and walk to the museum.
If you want to go by Metrobus, you can get off at Ayvansaray Metrobus Station and arrive there by walking for a short distance.
Written by Serhat Engul