The construction of the imperial shipyards on the northern coast of the Golden Horn began at Kasimpasa during the rule of Mehmed II (1451-1481) following the conquest of Constantinople. A coastal garden surrounded by forests, thought to be inherited from Byzantine rulers, was organized as an imperial retreat to the west of the shipyards known as Tersane Bahçesi (shipyard garden) or Hasbahçe (royal garden). While little is known of structures that may have been erected in this garden prior to the seventeenth century, it is certain that Ahmed I (1603-1617) erected a kiosk with a flower garden and built private quarters for his harem, including service buildings. Expanded by his son Ibrahim I (1639-1648), the palace burnt in 1677 and was rebuilt by his grandson Mehmed IV (1648-1687). By the eighteenth century, this palace thrived at this location comprised of the sultan’s quarters (daire-i hümayun), private quarters (harem), quarters of the chief eunuch (kizlaragasi dairesi), treasury room (hazine dairesi), quarters of the treasurer (hazinedarbasi dairesi), prayer hall (namazgah köskü), quarters of the palace school instructors (enderun agalari dairesi), quarters of the weapons bearer (silahdar aga dairesi), a prayer hall (namazgah köskü), barracks of the palace troops (acemioglani koguslari) and rooms for servants. There were many garden kiosks, baths, pools and mosques and an aquarium (balikhane), all guarded by a seawall with the exception of the Hasoda kiosk that projected out on a terrace guarded by metal grilles; this is w ere the sultan and his companions sat during naval ceremonies.

The buildings of the Tersane Palace are featured in “Surname-i Vehbi”, a poem by court poet Vehbi that narrates the fifteen-day royal circumcision ceremony held for the sons of Ahmed III at the Tersane palace. Illustrated with 137 miniatures by court painter Levni, the book includes the first known reference to the name Aynalikavak or Mirrored Poplar, which thought to have been coined to the palace after the installation of ‘mirrors as tall as poplars’ that arrived as gifts from the Venetians following the 1718 Treaty of Passarowitz. Renovations were ordered by Ahmed III (1703-1730) and Abdülhamid I (1774-1789). The palace was used primarily for the administration of foreign affairs by the late eighteenth century: the 1779 Aynalikavak and 1792 Yas Accords were signed with Russia at this location. Selim III (1789-1807) was the last sultan to spend time at this location. Although he tore down large sections of the palace to make room for the expansion and modernization of the imperial shipyards, Selim III-a renowned composer of Ottoman classical music-is said to have passed many days composing at the Aynalikavak kiosk. It is not certain whether Selim III rebuilt or renovated the kiosk built originally by Ahmed III; any clues pointing to its origin have been erased during its complete redecoration by court architect Garabet Balyan during the rule of Abdülhamid II (1876-1909).

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