Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, was the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The Bosphorus straits divides the city into a part that sits on the European continent, and a larger part on the continent of Asia. The militarily and economically strategic position of the city, on the western portion of the Silk Road, and on the shipping route between the Aegean and Black Seas, has kept it cosmopolitan and prosperous since its foundation 660 BCE, when it was called Byzantium. In 330 it became Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire, named for Emperor Constantine the Great. The Ottomans conquered the city in 1453/857 AH and renamed the city Istanbul. It served as their capital until Ankara became the capital of the modern nation of Turkey.
Entrance to the Second Court is through the Middle Gate, or the Gate of Salutation or Bab-ül-Salaam that was built by Mehmed II. The gate was refurbished by Murad III in the late 16th century and no longer has its original gilded doors or portico. The court, enclosed on all four sides by halls with porticoes, has had little altered since the 16th century. To the left, the Stable Court (Has Ahir Meydani) and the Barracks of the Halberdiers with Tresses (Zülüflü Baltacilar Kogusu) - who, among other things, supplied burning wood for the Harem - are located next to the Carriage Gate (Araba Kapisi) of the Harem flanked by the Divan Hall and the Outer Treasury (Dis Hazine). The Imperial Kitchens (Mutfaklar) occupy the right side of the courtyard. The courtyard was once arranged as a miniature wood where gazelles, peacocks and ostriches were allowed to roam free.
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Goodwin, Godfrey. Topkapi Palace : an illustrated guide to its life & personalities. London: Saqi Books. 1999.
Necipoglu, Gülru. Architecture, ceremonial, and power : the Topkapi Palace in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. New York, N.Y. : Architectural History Foundation ; Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press. 1991.