Thursday, 30 July 2009

Istanbul-Memoir of the Last Islamic Empire...Part-Deux

The most famous tourist attraction in Istanbul is Topkapi Palace or Topkapi Sarayi in Turkish. It is the most extensive monuments in the Ottoman Empire which covers hundred of acres of prime land located on the foothill overlooking the 3 continents. It was constructed during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II and had been the residence of the sultans for almost 400 years (1459-1839) until Sultan AbdulMecid decided to move to Dolmabache Palace. During the Ottoman era, approximately 4000 people lived in this palace. Well, that is like a small city!! The palace included four grand courts and the Harem section. After the fall of Ottoman empire, upon the order of Ataturk, the palace started to serve as a museum on 3 April 1924.

Miniature of Topkapi Palace. The palace covered 700,000 meter square and is a building complex of court, pavillions, mosques and fountains.Entrance to Topkapi Palace through Gate of Salutation to the 2nd courtyard
The Gate of Felicity. Beyond this gate is the 3rd courtyard, which is the heart of the palace where the Sultan spent his days outside the Harem. Most of the ceremony were held in front of this gate, such as new Sultan's accessions to the throne.
Ottoman Period of Topkapi Palace. Look at those headgears, are they awesome or what. The most interesting place in the 2nd courtyard of the Palace is Harem section. It is said that the Sultan's wife and the concubines lived in Harem. I don't know what concubine means, my guess this must somehow related to porcupines la kut, with ...hehe. It was a private area of sultans and his sons, hence forbidden for all other males except for black eunuchs to guard the area. There are 400 rooms in Harem but only a few are open for public . By the way, dont ask me what a eunuch is, your guess is as good as mine, if not better :)
The Courtyard of Sultans Favourite. Women were sent to sultan as gift and among them, the ones the sultans liked were called concubines who will given the name favourite.

Next to this courtyard is Princes Chamber.

Princes Chamber from outside. This is where the crown prince and other princes were trained in the discipline of the Ottoman Harem until they reach adulthood. Their education was seen as a very important aspect of the training to Sultanhood hence they had teachers from all over the world under various discipline to impart the necessary knowledge.
The Imperial Antechamber, built by Mimar Sinan was the hall where sultans would receive their guest and spend their day. Here sultans were entertains by the Harem. For your information, the word Mimar means Architect in Turkish and the most famous Mimar in Ottoman Empire was Sinan who spent 50 years of his life serving Ottoman's sultans. My Abi also is a great mimar, he is Mimar Abdul Halim.Interior in Pavillion of Murad III. There is the Ayatul Kursi, all around the tiled covered walls. Dome in Harem The window shutter in the hall of Queen Mother is made of mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell.
Stained glass of Princes Chamber. The wall decorated by Ayatul Quran. Entrance to Sacred Relic Chamber where items such as the swords belonging to Prophet Muhammad and his foot print during his ascension are displayed. All these sacred relics were brought to Topkapi Palace from Caliphs in Egypt after Sultan Salim conquest Egypt in 1517.
Nabi Muhammad SAW swords displayed at Sacred Relics Section The Circumcision Chamber for the princes. The wall is decorated by Iznik tiles. More than 200 princes were circumsized in this chamber during Ottoman Era. Thats 200 'ouchhhh' that lasted hundred of years....
View of Marmara Sea from Topkapi Palace Pavillion Fountain in front of Sultan Ahmet Library in 3rd Courtyard Entrance to Imperial Council Hall, where the meeting between Grand Vizier, viziers and officials of Ottoman states were held. This hall was built by Mimar Aladdien during the reign of Sultan Sulaymaniye the Magnificent. This is me looking very tired after a long outing at the Topkapi Palace. Remember friends, don't miss the visit to Topkapi Palace if you ever got the chance to visit Istanbul as it is worth all the treasures in the whole wide world!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Istanbul-Memoir of the Last Islamic Empire-Part 1

Archeology Museum Archeology Museum

Our first destination in Istanbul was the Archeology Museum located near the Topkapi Palace. This museum display the ancient artifacts belonging from different cultures mostly from Roman era. At first I wonder why all these artifacts are displayed in Istanbul rather than their own country of origin. Did you know that during the Ottoman Empires reign from 14th Century, the Sultans were very powerful with successful conquest of the Balkan and Afrika, from Anatolian to Mesopotamia, Arabian Peninsular, Afghanistan and also part of the greater Europe. The break-up of this empire produced 62 different nation to this day, thats close to a third of the world's countries. I am very impressed, don't you? That is why all the collections from Greek, Rome and even from Egypt are kept in Istanbul as these things are send over from the respective ruler of each county as gifts to the Sultan. Here are some pictures at the Archeology Museum.

Trojan Horse at the children museum. The original Trojan Horse is in the city of Troy, famous for the legendary story from the times of Helen, Queen of Sparta and Paris, the Trojan Prince.
Statue of Cleopatra -Ummi striking the pose...hehe Statue of Alexander the Great Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great Pillar of a woman from the Greek temple- they are called Caryatid Porch (that's what Abi said anyway...hmmm, i wonder why)Sarcophagus of Sidonian King Thabit
What is a sarcophagus you may asked.....well, it is actually the stone or timber coffin that hold the remains of kings, queens or important people during their reign. The ancient people believed this is a way to preserve the mummia before they are brought back to life... what a scary thought that was.
We also visited The Tiled Pavillion located in the courtyard of the Archeology Museum. This place displayed different types of Turkish-Islamic and Ottoman tiles. ceramics and porcelains between 14th and 16th century that were produced from Iznik tile with its distinctive bluish feature (hence the name given to Blue Mosque)

Entrance gate of The Tiled Pavilion. This was one of the first pavillions erected by Sultan Mehmed II after his conquest of Istanbul.Inside the Pavillion Window Pediment
Ummi, I am tired already, let's go back On our way back, we stopped by at the park outside the museum. It is such a nice place to relax and enjoy the summer breeze. The trees are tall and shady with the fountain in the middle creating a cool feeling to all the visitors. Lucky I am one of them :)

Monday, 27 July 2009

Luqman and his New Friends in Istanbul

Turk Hava Yollari!!!
Hi everyone. This is what the Turkish people called their National Airlines. I just got back from Istanbul for our summer holiday between 17 July to 21 July and what fun we had. Turkish Airlines are really cheap but it was not as good as Etihad Airways. Why you ask? Well, for starters they did not provide basinet for baby like me..(no wonder their fare is cheaper compared to Etihad, so all mommies out there please take note). The stewardess were not friendly as well. In Istanbul, we stayed at Aladdin Hotel in Sultanahmet which is part of the old town. This is a very good hotel and don't forget check out Ummi's review for this hotel at TripAdvisor.
My Ummi and Abi spend most of the time walking to all the tourist attractions as they are really close to the hotel, with me in tow in my ever peberet buggy/stroller.
In this entry I only want to post my pictures with all my new friends I've met in Istanbul.. I really enjoy meeting people from all walks of life...just like you!

This is Nesrin, she really likes me. She kissed me a lot..:) I met her at Topkapi Palace and she is a guard in one of the rooms in Harem.

We were heading towards a park in Topkapi Palace and suddenly this beautiful girl looked at me and she asked permission from Abi to take a picture with me.. I am very tired that's why I did not smile. Look at her nose.. so mancung one...

Here Nesrin and her friend again

I met my new friend in Archeology Museum. He gave me a fruit because I was so cranky when Umi and Abi were enjoying their time checking out all the Roman Statue..This is a cat, I met him at the Sulamaniye Camii. I was so excited.. the cat? buat donno jer
This boy came to me and want to play with me. I met him at the Blue Mosque
Hah.. this is the girl that kissed me in the Blue Mosque. And me? What can a boy do, except Smile :)
This is Alaaddin Hotel Manager
This is Ibrahim and a nice lady from our hotel
This is Mr Mohamad from Alaadin Hotel. He is a nice guy and he can also speak Malay fluently as he worked in Madinah before and have met a lot of Malaysian Jemaah Haji.
This is the video of the lil' gurl trying to kiss me....make me so shy only..

That's all folks.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Land of the Pharoah - Finale

Grapes, as far as the eye can see.....

Fayoum Orchard
Looks yummy..and cheap tooo (5 Genih or egyptian pound per kilo, equivalent to RM 3.50/kg)

Can I have one Ummi, they look delicious....

Qarun Lake, Ummi managed to capture the sunset with such panache :) Our last destination in Egypt is Fayoum, the largest oasis in Egypt. There are a lot of agriculture activities here. In the story of Prophet Yusuf, he interpreted the king's dream (seven weak cows devouring seven fat ones, seven green ears of corn being replaced by seven dry ones). This was believed to be the place where the farmers grew their crops in the seven years of prosperity before the seven years of severe and dreadful famine.

Ever heard the story of Qarun? We were lucky to have visited the temple of Qarun which is located near Fayoum. From the outside it is a very simple form with complete rectangular box shape and slightly tilted walls. Its interior is easily distinguished by a maze of rooms and staircases, all leading to the roof. This is the main part of the attraction, since only few of Egyptian temples have roofs and only few are accessible to the top. There is not much to see inside the temple, since all the interior are gone, except for a few remaining scriptures above the doors. On the way to this temple, we met with TV3 crews and the famous Jejak Rasul host, Ahmad Noor Sulaiman. Everybody were so excited, because it was not easy to meet them face to face. They were shooting for Jejak Rasul and they interviewed Abi and Tok. Don't forget to watch Jejak Rasul this Ramadhan ok.

The most popular story is that the lake and the temple take their name from an individual who's supposed to have lived in the area and duly mentioned in the Quran (al-Qasas 76). In the Quran, Qarun was appears as a man “too absorbed with his own richness”. He was being ungrateful to Allah. Qarun said the all the richness and wealth he accumulated was because of the knowledge he possessed. Qarun finally meets the wrath of Allah, again by being swallowed up by the earth. It is a well known story in Egypt. Some believe that his treasure is still hidden somewhere under the water of the lake. So, anybody game for bouts of treasure hunt just gimme a holler....hehe

Qarun Lake also situated in Fayoum area where you can see different kinds of birds...(no Lochness monster or the likes...sigh). Qarun lake is considered the oldest natural lake in the world, the third largest lake in Egypt. It is considered an interior lake that is not related to any sea or and rivers and an area of around 53 thousands acres in Fayoum Down. We had our seafood dinner at one of the restaurants nearby the lake and really enjoyed the sunset view.

The temple of Qarun

With Ahmad Noor, Jejak Rasul host

With Abi at the rooftop of Qarun Temple
Gateway within the temple Inside Qarun temple Back in Cairo, we also visited the Asfour Gallery. As all Mommies and my lady friends would already know, Asfour is a very famous brand for crystal throughout the world. There were a lot of chandeliers and I must say it was very interesting gallery. I did not bought anything because it was too expensive....although Ummi managed to coerce Abi into parting with stacks of Egyptian pound notes to take home some small souvenier...just brooch and the likes.

Asfour Gallery