Union between the
Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire (1475)
The Devlet Saray palace in Salaçıq was used as the main residence by Meñli I Giray and then by his intermediate successors: his elder son Mehmed I Giray (1515-23), grandson Ğazı I Giray (1523-24) and, finally, for a younger son, Saadet I Giray (1524-32).
Many things had changed in the Crimean state during these years. The plans of Meñli I Giray to became the sovereign of what was
formerly known as the Golden Horde had reached just a partial success. The rulers of several new independent khanates which appeared in the lands of the crushed Empire werent much inclined to recognize the suzerainty of Crimea over them. In 1521 a Crimean prince Sahib Giray successfully ascended the throne of the Qazan Khanate, but an attempt to submit the Hacı Tarhan Khanate in 1523 met the strongest
résistance and cost life to Mehmed I Giray.
While the Crimean Khanate was arguing in the plains of the Volga region for the rich heritage of the Golden Horde, its powerful southern neighbour, the Ottoman Empire, increased its influences over the Crimea itself.
Turkish sultan Mehmed II Fatih - the
conqueror of Constantinople and South Crimea; the first
suzerain of the Crimean khans
The history of union between the Crimean Khanate and Turkey began in 1475 when an Ottoman military expedition of the sultan Mehmed II Fatih conquered two Christian states of the Crimean peninsula (the Princedom of Gothia and the Genoese Gazaria). The Turks captured and imprisoned also Meñli I Giray for his efforts to make resistance to the invasion. The khan spent three years in Istanbul and was returned to the Crimea after he had agreed to recognize Turkish suzerainty over Crimea (it did not mean, however, loss of the sovereignty for the Crimean state).
Meñli I Giray and his successor Mehmed I Giray managed to keep almost equal relations with the sultans. But after the death of Mehmed I Giray in 1523, during the crisis, which outburst in Crimea in these years, Turkish sultans considerably rose their influence on Crimean affairs. If the inthronizations of Meñli I Giray in 1478 and of Mehmed I Giray in 1515 were just
confirmed by the Istanbul, then in 1524 Saadet Giray became the first Crimean khan
appointed by the Turkish sultan.
The time of the reformers (1524-1551)
Giray as the founder of Bakhchisaray
Saadet I Giray, who had been previously living at the sultans court, arrived to Crimea with a strong intention to introduce that useful experience which he had got in Turkey into the state life of his native country. His program of reforms was not accomplished because of a severe political conflict between the khan, clan aristocracy and Islam Giray (a khan's nephew who
pretended on the throne). However some of innovations introduced by Saadet I Giray went forever into the political traditions of the Crimean Khanate.
A blue nisan (personal seal) of Sahib
I Giray, 1549-1550
Around the tamga (the
emblem of the Giray dynasty) an inscription carved: "In
the name of God, the merciful, the gracious. I bear witness that there none worthy of worship except God. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
Say: "Oh, God! You own the kingdom and grant the power
to whom You will. The great lord Sahib Giray khan, a son of Meñli I Giray,
a son of Hacı Giray"
In 1532 the throne was succeeded by Sahib I Giray, a brother of Saadet I Giray. This person went down to the history of Crimea as one of the most outstanding rulers and great reformers. Historical sources refer this khan as the founder of Bakhchisaray who moved khans residence from the gorge of Salaçıq to that place where the Bakhchisaray Palace is situated
The reasons to leave the old palace (i.e. Devlet Saray) and to build a new one could be explained by the policy of state reforms carried out by Sahib I Giray. These reforms were aimed to strengthen the authority of the monarch in the eyes of noble clans seniors (beys). The leaders of Crimean noble clans enjoyed greatest privileges and the highest level of autonomity. The power of the khan over the clan seniors was much limited by an archaic tradition inherited from the state system of the Golden Horde. Knowing well the advantages of a strong central power in the Ottoman Empire, Sahib I Giray tried to reach the real power over his country. Building of a new residence corresponded well with the wish of Sahib I Giray to emphasize the high status of the Crimean monarch. Perhaps, he decided to create a sort of that magnificent residence which he was living in during his stay in Istanbul.
Though even if the idea of building a new palace emerged under influence of Turkish impressions of the khan, this palace was created in a much different way than the palace of the Ottoman rulers in Istanbul. The Palace of the Crimean khans is a completely original and unique monument of the Crimean Tatar architecture.
Mausoleum of Dere bey (Eski Durbe) - the
oldest building in the vicinities of the Khan Palace
The capital town behind the fences of the Palace didn't grew on an empty place. At the very beginning of the history of the independent Crimean Khanate the locality of the later Bakhchisaray Palace was the place where a noble person called Dere bey lived, as a local legend stated. Probably, he had a small fortification there. He was buried in a mausoleum, which still remains among the buildings of Bakhchisaray.
Despite the fact that some buildings or gardens existed there earlier,
Sahib I Giray remains the founder of Bakhchisaray because it was
exactly him who made this settlement a capital town.
Bakhchisaray grew into a prosperous capital city. In the second half of the 18th century thousands of merchants came to local markets, five hundreds handicraft workshops produced various kinds of articles, about 120 street fountains shed spring water, thirty three mosques and some churches (Greek, Armenian and a Roman) were full of people on
holidays. The total population of the capital reached about 7000.