Constructed through the end of eighteenth century, Ishak Pasa Palace stands on a plateau that descends to the northwest. It overlooks Sariova, where the modern city of Dogubayazit is located. The remains of old Dogubayazit lie to the northwest and to the south of the palace. A small mosque (mescit) and a cemetery lie to the southeast of the palace. The northern façade of the palace faces the Dogubayazit Castle, on a nearby hill. The palace was commissioned by local Ottoman governor Ishak Pasa and took ninety-nine years to complete in 1784. Ishak Pasa is also thought to be the architect of the palace.
Due to its proximity to the Russian and Persian borders of the empire, Ishak Pasa Palace suffered serious damage during several wars, beginning with the Russian seige in 1828. Stones were removed from the abandoned palace during the re-location of the city in 1934. The upper wooden structure also vanished during this period. In 1963, the Directorate of Monuments and Museums (Anitlar ve Müzeler Genel Müdürlügü) announced a campaign of preservation for the site and several restoration projects were undertaken since, including a general cleanup and excavation of the site and the maintenance of the east and south façades in 1966.
The complex is situated on an artificial platform aligned east-west. The site was made even with the construction of a partial basement that is fifteen meters at its tallest. Surrounded by steep slopes, the building is entered only from the east. The palace consists of three successive sections; an outer courtyard and inner courtyard, followed by the harem section with its gardens. It is similar to the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul in its layout.
The outer courtyard (birun), which is located at the eastern part of the complex, is enveloped by guardrooms to the north and east, storage rooms to the north, and prison rooms in the basement. The southern wall of the courtyard, which measures thirty by thirty-six meters is left blank and the western side is bound with structures of the inner courtyard. There are privy chambers and a fountain to the east. Entered from a muqarnas gate facing east, this section of the palace measures fifty by thirty-one meters in plan. A gate on the western wall leads into the inner courtyard.
The inner courtyard (enderun) is about twenty by thirty-five meters. It has the administrative section, a mosque, madrasa (medrese) to the north, servant rooms and stables to the south, a double-story structure housing the guards to the east. The northern side of the courtyard is raised about two and a half meters on a rock outcropping at this corner, although it may also have been raised to highlight the mosque. Although the mosque and the madrasa were preserved in their original form, the walls and roofs of some sections projecting to the south, such as the servant rooms, were heavily damaged. The mosque, which is adjoined by muezzin's rooms and a single minaret, has a single tall prayer hall covered with a dome supported by squinches. Entered from a hallway within the administrative section, the mosque has its qibla wall facing the courtyard. It is flanked by a hypostyle hall to its north that is covered with nine vaults and domes set on slender columns. A small ornate mausoleum (türbe) stands in front of the qibla wall of the mosque.
Entered from a gate from the inner courtyard, the harem section covers an area of thirty-six meters by forty-three meters and is slightly higher in elevation than the inner courtyard. It is surrounded by pleasure gardens (hasbahçe) on three sides. It has a ceremonial hall (muayede salonu), kitchen (mutfak), cellar (kiler), baths (hamam) and many rooms. There is an inscriptive plaque with Quranic inscriptions and praise to Ishak Pasa above the portal.
The palace was built using six different types of local stone. Wood was used for the roof structure and columns. Most of the wooden roofing structure has disappeared. Iron was used to reinforce the masonry. A wide variety of architectural elements were can be seen in the palace complex, including octagonal columns with muqarnas capitals, pointed arches and blind arches decorating the walls and crowning the rectangular frames of the windows.
The decorative scheme consists mostly of stone carving, featuring floral motifs such as entwining vine branches and grapes, geometric shapes and elaborate arabesques. There are traces of painted decoration inside the mosque dome. Carved inscriptions with Quranic verses and poetic praises of Ishak Pasa decorate the interior of the ceremonial hall and the mosque.
Bayrak, M. Orhan. Türkiye Tarihi Yerler Kilavuzu, 30-31. Istanbul: Inkilap Kitabevi, 1994.
Bingöl, Yüksel. Ishak Pasa Sarayi. Istanbul: Türkiye Is Bankasi Kültür Yayinlari, 1998.
Stierlin, Henri, and Anne Stierlin. Turkey, from the Selçuks to the Ottomans, 205-208. Köln, Germany: Taschen, 1998.