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!

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