Imperial Council Hall (Divan)

Dîvan-i Hümâyûn

The Imperial Divan was the highest executive, legislative body during the Ottoman Empire as well as an advisory council to the sultan. The Council met four times a week after the morning prayer to discuss the state matters. The building of the Divan was constructed in the 16th century under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and comprised several interconnected halls: the Council hall, the chamber of the secretarial staff (where the meetings were recorded) and the archive. The issues of great importance were discussed until noon in an elegantly domed chamber decorated with beautiful Iznik tiles, then the members of the Council had supper and then they listened to petitions of the citizens.

In the main hall, behind the place of the Grand Vizier there was a golden barred window (the so-called "eye of the sultan") where the sultan sat listening to and observing his servants. No one from the members of the Divan could certainly say whether the sultan was watching them behind that wall – a symbol of the unseen and vigilant presence of the ruler. If the sultan decided to interrupt the debate he could just knock on the bars or draw the curtain. The meeting stopped right away and all the viziers moved to the Audience Hall to present their reports to the sultan.

Address: Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi, Sultanahmet, Fatih
Opening hours: closed on Tuesdays. Mon, Wed-Sun - October 26 – April 15 - 9 am – 4.45 pm; April 15 – October 26 - 9 am – 6.45 pm
How to reach: Gülhane (TR1)
Coordinates: 41.012297, 28.983427