The First Court is the largest and most accessible of the three main courts of the Topkapi Palace which was designed to be experienced sequentially from public to private. The area inside the first courtyard was vast and open. By the end of the 16th century the court was filled with functional buildings placed at the boundary areas; the functional buildings were used for small courts, masjids, dormitories, baths and small kitchens.
The first courtyard was primarily used for large ceremonies since it could accommodate thousands which led to situations where the whole court often assembled especially on important occasions. For example, Mehmet II’s funeral in 1481 (885 AH.) Additionally, it also served as the waiting area for horses and servants of visiting dignitaries, which was the main attraction rather than the visual impact of its architecture. The “Tower of the Paper Commissioner” was the only exception to the simple architecture which was a large octagonal kiosk built of stone on a raised platform, crowned by a pointed lead roof. Inside this courtyard exotic animals were occasionally also exhibited, an ancient Near Eastern royal tradition adopted by the Byzantine and Islamic courts.
by Aliza Sovani, Harvard Graduate School of Design MLA'15/Archnet Content Contributor, 19 September 2015
Necipoglu, Gulru. “Architecture, Ceremonial and Power. The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.” New York: The Architectural History Foundation, Inc, 1991. 40 - 44
Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate. 2015. Web. Accessed August 22, 2015.http://topkapisarayi.gov.tr/en/i-avlu-alay-meydan%C4%B1