Türkan UZUN
(Maltepe Univ., Architectural Dept. Istanbul, Turkey)

Transforming the old Sultanahmet Prison into the Four Seasons Hotel

Excavation finds during the transformation period

Abstract: In this article the remains of the fourth century Great Byzantine Palace will be discussed. It will take up what was discovered during excavations carried out during the process of transforming the prison near St. Sophia in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square into the “Four Seasons Hotel.”

In the excavation of the old Byzantine Palace that began in 1997 in the garden of the Four Seasons Hotel, quite a few discoveries were made that illuminate history. One third of the excavation was completed and yielded hundreds of thousands of  items that belonged to the Hellenistic  and Ottoman periods as well as to the Byzantine.

In the Byzantine Palace excavation which is shown in American archaeological literature as among the most important 100 scientific events of the century.

The building that was used as a church in Byzantine times and became the artistic atelier in the Ottoman period appeared in the aftermath of the excavation. All of the sections which were thought to belong to the Byzantine and 16th century Ottoman units such as the Senate door and the Chapel of Jesus that were called the lion’s house and the artist’s atelier were found in one place.

What has been uncovered until now?

Many coins from the fifth to the 12th century, tunnels that change between 25 and 70 meters in length, water channels that reach 93 meters, a lamp that belongs to the fifth century BC, a ceramic piece, marble decoration, some pieces that belong to the water channels, skeletons that belong to the Byzantine.

Keywords: Byzantine Palace, Four Season’s Hotel, Istanbul