Beyazıt Square

sights / Squares & plazas

Beyazıt Square information

Location
Istanbul , Turkey
Getting there
Tram: Beyazıt-Kapalı Çarşı
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In Byzantine times this public square was called the Forum of Theodosius. Today it's home to street vendors, students from the adjoining İstanbul University and plenty of pigeons. The main building here is the Beyazıt Mosque , and there are also various buildings that originally formed part of its külliye . These include a medrese that now houses a Museum of Calligraphy (currently closed for restoration), an imaret (soup kitchen) and kervansaray (caravanserai) complex now functioning as the magnificent Beyazıt State Library and a disused double hamam.

After the Conquest, Mehmet the Conqueror built his first palace here, a wooden structure called the Eski Sarayı (Old Seraglio). After Topkapı was built, the Eski Sarayı became home to women when they were pensioned out of the main palace – this was where valide sultans (mothers of the reigning sultans) came when their sultan sons died and they lost their powerful position as head of the harem. The original building was demolished in the 19th century to make way for a grandiose Ministry of War complex designed by Auguste Bourgeois; this now houses the university. The 85m-tall Beyazıt Tower in its grounds sits on top of one of the seven hills on which Constantine the Great built the city, following the model of Rome. Commissioned by Mahmud II, the stone tower was designed by Senekerim Balyan and built in 1828 in the same location as a previous wooden tower. The tower was used by the İstanbul Fire Department to spot fires until 1993. The coloured lights on it indicate weather conditions – blue for clear and sunny, green for rain, yellow for fog and red for snow.

Both the university and tower are off limits to travellers.