May 9, 2011

Topkapı Sarayı

Home of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years, Topkapı Sarayı ("Palace of the Cannon Gate") was the seraglio, the heart of the vast Ottoman Empire, ruled by the monarch who lived in Topkapı's hundreds of rooms with hundreds of concubines, children, white and black servants.
The Imperial Gate of the Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum, Istanbul                                                   The sultan would enter the palace through the Imperial Gate (Turkish: Bâb-ı Hümâyûn or Latin: Porta Augusta), also known as "Gate of the Sultan" (Turkish: Saltanat Kapısı) located to the south of the palace. This massive gate, originally dating from 1478, is now covered in 19th-century marble. The massiveness of this stone gate accentuates its defensive character. Its central arch leads to a high-domed passage. Gilded Ottoman calligraphy adorns the structure at the top, with verses from the Qur'an and tughras of the sultans.

before entering into the palace...

just to make an idea how big it is...

Scale model of the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul - (Turkish: Topkapı Sarayı) or in Ottoman Turkish:        طوپقپو سرايى, was the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign.

...just some turkish girls who fell in love with my hair...and gave me flowers...and took a photo with me...
that was sweet! :)
Beyond the Gate of Felicity is the Third Courtyard (III. Avlu), also called the Inner Palace (Enderûn Avlusu), which is the heart of the palace, where the sultan spent his days outside the harem. It is a lush garden surrounded by the Hall of the Privy Chamber (Has Oda) occupied by the palace officials, the treasury (which contains some of the most important treasures of the Ottoman age, including the Ottoman miniatures, the Sacred Trusts), the Harem and some pavilions, with the library of Ahmed III in the center. Entry to the Third Courtyard was strictly regulated and off-limits to outsiders.

The Imperial Treasury, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
It is a vast collection of works of art, jewelry, heirlooms of sentimental value and money belonging to the Ottoman dynasty. Since the palace became a museum, the same rooms have been used to exhibit these treasures. Most of the objects in the Imperial Treasury consisted of gifts, spoils of war, or pieces produced by palace craftsmen.
Panoramic view of the Marmara Sea from the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul.
Overlooking the beautiful Bosphorus from Topkapi Palace.
Overlooking the beautiful Bosphorus from Topkapi Palace.

One of the many gardens of the palace...loved the peonies! ♥♥♥
The Imperial Harem, Topkapi Palace, IstanbulNormally people think of a harem as a place of nude women lying around in Turkish baths with one another, whose purpose in life was to please their aging padishah. This was not true, as these women lived normal lives, although they were confided from the world. However, sexuality in the harem is questionable. It is said that acemis, who were housed in groups of ten in large rooms of divans gracing the walls, were kept under watch by a woman at night and candles were left lit to expose lesbian practices, which cooled the girls' wanton and unchaste behavior.
amazing mosaic details...

The Imperial Harem
- (Harem-i Hümayûn) occupied one of the sections of the private apartments of the sultan; it contained more than 400 rooms. The harem was home to the sultan's mother, the Valide Sultan; the concubines and wives of the sultan; and the rest of his family, including children; and their servants. The harem consists of a series of buildings and structures, connected through hallways and courtyards.
↕ These apartments (Daires) were occupied respectively by the harem eunuchs, the Chief Harem Eunuch (Darüssaade Ağası), the concubines, the queen mother, the sultan's consorts, the princes and the favourites. There was no trespassing beyond the gates of the harem, except for the sultan, the queen mother, the sultan's consorts and favourites, the princes and the concubines as well as the eunuchs guarding the harem. The harem wing was only added at the end of the 16th century.

 ▼The Terrace Mosque, also called Sofa Mosque (Sofa Camii), was constructed under Mahmud II in the Empire style for the use of the corps called Sofa Ocaği in the 19th century. The Kiosk of the Swordbearer (Silahdar Köşkü) used to stand in its place. The inscription at the gate of the mosque indicated that it was restored under Sultan Abdülmecid I in 1858. 
▼The gilded İftar Pavilion, also known as İftar Kiosk or İftar bower (İftariye Köşkü or İftariye Kameriyesi) offers a view on the Golden Horn. Its ridged cradle vault with the gilded roof was a first in Ottoman architecture with echoes of China and India.
Overlook of the new modern part of Istanbul from the palace :)

▼ The Galata Bridge The Galata Bridge (Galata Köprüsü)
 is a bridge that spans the  Golden Horn in Istanbul. It links the European continent to the Asiatic one. From the end of the 19th century in particular, the bridge has featured in Turkish literature, theater, poetry and novels.
Leaving the Topkapi Palace through the Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde or Bab-üs Saadet) 
It's the entrance into the Inner Court (Enderûn), also known as the Third Courtyard, marking the border to the Outer Court or Birûn. The Third Courtyard comprises the private and residential areas of the palace. The gate has a dome supported by lean marble pillars. It represents the presence of the Sultan in the palace. No one could pass this gate without the authority of the Sultan. Even the Grand Vizier was only granted authorisation on specified days and under specified conditions.
leaving the palace..back to the Imperial Gate
...fresh watermelon was the perfect way to quench our thirst as soon as we left the palace...
Another Must See when it comes to Istanbul. The palace is overwhelming, beautiful and it's so much history going on, that only one day wouldn't be enough to en joy this masterpiece.

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