Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power: The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (Architectural History Foundation Book)

Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power: The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (Architectural History Foundation Book) Buildings product by

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Today the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul seems a haphazard aggregate of modest buildings no longer capable of conveying imperial power. Yet it is at once the most celebrated of all Islamic palaces and the least understood. Gülru Necipoglu brings together largely unpublished sources, both written and visual, along with information derived from the architectural remains to uncover the processes through which the meaning of the palace was once produced, before it came to represent a stereotyped microcosm of oriental despotism imbued with the exotic otherness of the East. She relocates the Topkapi in its historical context, a context that included not only the circumstances of its patronage, but the complex interaction of cultural practices, ideologies, and social codes of recognition.

Necipoglu focuses on the imperial iconograpy of palatial forms that lack monumentality, axiality, and rational-geometric planning principles to decipher codes of grandeur that are no longer obvious to the modern observer. She reconstructs the architectural and ceremonial impact of the palace through a step-by-step tour of its buildings, demonstrating how the palace was experienced as a processional sequence of separate courts and seemingly disjointed architectural elements that were nevertheless integrated into a coherent whole by passage through time and space.

Far more than an analysis of the architectural program of the palace, Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power raises questions and provides answers to fundamental concerns about the ideology of absolute sovereignty, the interplay between architecture and ritual, and the changing perceptions of a building through the centuries, a building that drew upon a wide range of Palatine traditions, mythical, Islamic, Turco-Mongol, Romano-Byzantine, and Italian Renaissance.

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