Palace of the Porphyrogenitus

Istanbul, Turkey

Palace of the Porphyrogenitus

The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (Greek: τὸ Παλάτιον τοῦ Πορφυρογεννήτου), known in Turkish as the Tekfur Sarayı ("Palace of the Sovereign"), is a late 13th-century Byzantine palace in the north-western part of the old city of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey). An annex of the greater palace complex of Blachernae, it is the best preserved of the three Byzantine palaces to survive in the city (together with the ruins of the Boukoleon Palace; and the ruins of the Great Palace of Constantinople with its surviving substructures, retrieved mosaics and standing Magnaura section), and one of the few relatively intact examples of late Byzantine secular architecture in the world.

The Palace was constructed during the late 13th or early 14th centuries as part of the Blachernae palace complex, where the Theodosian Walls join with the later walls of the suburb of Blachernae. The name of the palace is known due to the accounts of the Byzantine historian Michael Critobulus, who described and named the palace during the Ottoman siege of Constantinople in 1453. Although the palace appears at first glance to be named after the 10th-century emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, it was built long after his time, and is in fact named after Constantine Palaiologos, a son of the Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos. "Porphyrogenitus", meaning literally "born to the purple", indicated a child born to a reigning emperor. The emperor would show off the newborn heir from the balcony and have them proclaimed “Caesar Orbi”, or “ruler of the world”. The palace also seemed to have unintentionally served as a location for usurpers and emperors in waiting to live in. Andronicus III stayed in the palace until his grandfather fully abdicated the throne. Similarly, John VI Kantakouzenos stayed in the palace while negotiating his regency of John V Palaiologos with Empress Anna of Savoy. Finally, John V Palaiologos would stay in the palace while completing his removal of John VI Kantakouzenos from power. The palace served as an imperial residence during the final years of the Byzantine Empire.

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