There is, at the end of a secret gallery, a small square window which serves as a listening post. It is a wicker-work grille, with a curtain of crape or black taffeta, and is called the “dangerous window, ” because the prince may, whenever he wishes, listen to and see all that takes place, without being seen.1
Before embarking for Venice, Kubad had to appear before the Imperial Divan to receive his documentation and verbal instructions.2On a gloomyand drizzly morning in earlySeptember 1567, then, he rode from his home in Fatih, the quarter erected around the rather squat mosque of Mehmed II the Conqueror,3 nudging his mount along the slipperyand uneven cobbled roads that twisted up and down the hillycityand across the grounds of the ancient Byzantine hippodrome. He circled to the right of the Hagia Sofia mosque and through the Imperial Gate into the first and most public of the three courtyards of Topkapι, the imperial palace. Here he dismounted and left his steed to be dried and fed at the imperial stables. As Kubad hurried along, he unconsciously noted his surroundings: to his left laythe ancient Byzantine church, Hagia Irene, as well as the mint, the hospital, and the imperial stables; and to his right towered the high wall that marked out the entire palace grounds.4The imperial official, however, walked straight ahead, toward a second portal, the Gate of Salutation.
No guard had challenged his entryinto the first courtyard, for all were allowed here. The area bustled with everytype of person, both subject and foreigner. Some waited to present petitions to scribes who forwarded them to appropriate imperial____________________