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The Sublime Porte, also Ottoman Porte or High Porte (in Ottoman Turkish: باب عالی Bab-ı Ali, from Arabic: باب, báb (gate) and Arabic: عالي, alī (high)), is a metonym for the central government of the Ottoman Empire, by reference to the gate giving access to the block of buildings that housed the principal state departments in Istanbul. Today the buildings house the governor of Istanbul.
The particular term was used in the context of diplomacy by Western states, as their diplomats were received at the porte (meaning gate). During the constitution period (see Young Turk Revolution), the functions of the Divan were replaced by the imperial government, and "porte" came to refer to the Foreign Ministry. During this period, Grand vizier came to refer to the position of a Prime Minister and viziers became the Ottoman Senate.
Foreign Ministry 
Later the name came to refer to the Foreign Ministry. In contemporary times, it is used for the office of the governor (Vali) of Istanbul Province. This name has also been interpreted as referring to the Empire's position as gateway between Europe and Asia.
The High Porte, in contrast, referred to the private court of the sultan. Porte is French for "gate"; therefore, the term High Porte is a bilingual combination of English High and French Porte, that is equivalent to Bab-ı Ali.
See also