It is not entirely clear when the Tekfur Palace was built, but it is believed that it was constructed by the Byzantine Emperor Porphyrogenitus, and it’s also called as the Porphyrogenitus Palace. Some sources suggest that it was built as an extension to the Blakhernai Palace during the 13th and 14th centuries. The palace is located between Edirnekapi and Egrikapi, next to the city walls.
At first glance, the Tekfur Palace appears as a three-story building with five large windows overlooking the courtyard on the first floor. Inside, the ground floor consists of an arcade with four arches. The top floor is surrounded by windows on all sides, with a balcony located on the east face of the building. Over time, much of the building, including the roof and floors, have disappeared, but the remaining walls have been renovated with red bricks and white marbles based on the original Byzantine architecture.
After the Ottomans conquered Istanbul, the palace remained abandoned. At the end of the 17th century, it was converted into a zoo. According to the traveller John Sanderson, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, who visited the palace 40 years ago, wanted to see a giraffe living in the zoo, but unfortunately, it had died a few days before. He even excavated the tomb of the giraffe to satisfy his curiosity for an animal that he had never seen in Europe. Another notable event associated with the Tekfur Palace is the discovery of the “Kasikci Diamond”, a well-known diamond found in the palace’s dump.
In addition to these interesting events, the Tekfur Palace has been used for a variety of purposes throughout history. During the 18th century, it served as a ceramic workshop, and in the 19th century, it was converted into a glass and glass production factory. Today, archaeological excavations continue in order to further study the palace.
At Tour Maker Turkey, we offer tours to the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus and other iconic destinations in Istanbul, Turkey. Contact us today to learn more about our guided tours in Istanbul, Turkey.