Pavilion of the Holy Mantle and Holy Relics

The Privy Room (Has Oda) was constructed in the Inner Courtyard in the time of Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1451–81) to serve as the private apartments of the sultan, for which purpose it was used until the middle of the 16th century. Prior to their accession to the throne, the sultans would come to this room to pray and receive homage from the Privy Room officials before leaving for the ceremony.

The Chamber of the Holy Relics, located within the Privy Room, contains religious objects sent to the Ottoman sultans at various times between Sultan Selim the Grim’s assumption of the caliphate in the 16th century to the end of the 19th century. The caliphate passed from the Abbasids to the Ottomans with Selim’s conquest of Mamluk Egypt in 1517, upon which event the Holy Mantle of the Prophet (Hırka-i Sa`âdet) was given to Selim by al-Mutawakkil III, the last Abbasid caliph. The dispatching of holy relics to Istanbul would continue thereafter, particularly during the period of increasing Wahhabi assaults on holy places and objects in the late 18th and the 19th century, when such objects were gradually removed to the Chamber of the Holy Relics for greater protection. Similarly, the holy objects found in Medina were sent toTopkapı Palace for the same reason during the First World War.

Among the most important holy relics to be collected in this way between the 16th century and the first half of the 20th century were the Holy Mantle of the Prophet; the hair from the Prophet’s beard; the reliquary in which was kept the Prophet’s tooth, broken during the Battle of Uhud on 19 March 625; and the footprints, letters, bow, and sword of the Prophet. There are also holy relics attributed to other prophets and to the companions of the Prophet Muhammad: the tray used by Abraham; the staff of Moses; the sword of David; the robe of Joseph; the swords of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions; and the shirt, mantle, praying mat, and chest of Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah.