Friday Photo: The Tower of Justice

Tower of Justice TopkapiToday’s Friday Photo depicts the Tower of Justice, one of the most prominent features of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Begun during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II ‘The Conquerer’, the palace reflects many aspects of Ottoman political philosophy. Composed of four spaces–courtyards–separated by walls, the palace progresses from the most public spaces towards the intimate residence of the Sultan himself. Located in the second courtyard, the Tower of Justice is the highest feature in the palace, and symbolises the omnipresence of the Sultan throughout his realm. Below the tower, the divan (council-chamber) provided a venue for top-ranking officials to meet with petitioners and make decisions. From within the tower, the Sultan could watch these meetings in hiding, thereby providing an incentive for just decisions. Together, these symbolic messages–to the Sultan’s officials and to the world at large–reflect a broader ideology called the Circle of Justice. If government was fair, so the philosophy states, then the peasants will be prosperous. Prosperous peasants create strong tax revenues, a strong state, and a secure ruler. The Sultan, though aloof, therefore, had a duty to ensure fair governance across all his lands; a commitment expressed architecturally in the Topkapi Palace tower. 

3 thoughts on “Friday Photo: The Tower of Justice

  1. Pingback: Topkapı: Military Encampment or Imperial Palace? | mediaevalmusings

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