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Ağrı İshak Paşa Palace


İshak Paşa Palace is more of a complex than a mere palace. It is the most famous of the palaces built in the decades shortly after the Topkapı Palace in İstanbul.

The palace, which was built on a hill at the side of a mountain 5 km east of Doğubeyazıt District is the last large monumental structure of the Ottoman Empire in the "Lale Devri" (Tulip Period). It is one of the most distinguished and magnificent examples of the 18th century Ottoman architecture and is very valuable in terms of art history. According to the top of the door inscription at the Harem Section it was constructed in 1784 (1199 H. according to the Islamic calendar).

As the foundation rests on a valley slope, it is rocky and hard. Despite the fact that it is at the centre of the Old Beyazıt city, its three sides (north, west, south) are steep and sloped. There is a suitable flat area only to the east. The entrance of the palace is on that side. It is also its narrowest façade.
As the palace was built in the age when castles ceased to be of use and fire arms were developed and abundantly available, its defence towards the hills in the east is weak. Its main gate is the weakest point in that respect. The structure of the main gate is no different than those seen in the palaces built in Istanbul and elsewhere in Anatolia and has neat stone workmanship and carving.

Today we have very few examples of the historical Turkish palaces still surviving. One of these is the İshak Paşa Palace and its complex.

The Ishak Pasha Palace is composed of the following sections in terms of architectural style:

Exterior façades

2- First and second courts

3- The men's quarter (selamlık)

4- The mosque building

5- The Soup Kitchen (Darüzziyafe)

6- Bath

7- Rooms of the Harem Section

8- Hall for ceremonies and entertainment

9- Arch gates

10- Pantries and ammunition room

11- The mausoleum

12- The bakery

13- Dungeons

14- Some sections from interior design (doors, windows, cupboards, fireplaces, soft drink cupboard etc.)

The characteristic of the palace is its mixture of Ottoman, Persian and Seljuk architectural styles. The palace was built in 1685 by II. İshak paşa of the Çildıroğulları and Çolak Abdi Paşa and took its final form in 1784. The building occupies an area of approximately 115m x 50m. The portal on the eastern façade of the palace, which is built with cut stones, reflects the characteristics of Seljuk art with its relief and decorations.

The palace is composed of two courts and the collection of structures positioned around them. Some of the buildings of the first court are destroyed. The second court, which is surrounded on four sides with buildings, has a rectangular ground plan. To the right, with reference to the entrance, there is the men's quarter and behind it the harem section. At the end of these, there is the mosque and the mausoleum. The mausoleum is built in the style of the Seljuk "kümbet" (cupola) architecture. The palace section has two storeys. All of its 366 rooms are arranged on these two floors. Each room has a stone fireplace. The cavities within the stone walls indicate that the building as a whole possessed a central heating system. The reception hall is 30mx3m. It has stone walls and floor. Its walls are decorated with couplets and verses from the Koran in the decorative examples of the Turkish calligraphic art. Among these a couplet, which in very free translation goes: "İshak, upon will, made the whole world a place of benevolence and the date to witness this was one thousand one hundred ninety nine" and indicates that the palace was completed in 1784 A.D. The mausoleum in the second courtyard of the palace is built with cut stones. This octagonal mausoleum is in the shape of the cupolas, which is one of the most typical examples of the traditional Seljuk mausoleum architecture, and has two storeys. Its walls are decorated with geometric motifs. Çolak Abdi Paşa, İshak Paşa and their close kin rest in this mausoleum.

The interior and exterior architectural wealth of the İshak Paşa palace could be endlessly described. Whether the palace is taken as a whole or its rooms and buildings studied individually, success, order and mastery is all to be found throughout. İshak Paşa Palace stands in a desolate valley today and the fact that it was the subject of various legends and stories adds to its magnificent atmosphere some colour and mystery.