Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Topkapi Palace-home and administration for Sultans from 15th-19th centuries, Ottoman Empire

The Topkapi Palace dates to the 15th-16th centuries and commands the strategic spot on the hill overlooking the confluence of the Sea of Marmara (NE end of the Mediterranean), the Bosporus strait connecting the Marmara and the Black Seas, and the Golden Horn (a formerly swampy area emptying the interior of western Turkey, etc.). The Harem was huge and ruled by the Sultan's mother and black eunuchs trained in Egypt after capture as children, mostly in Ethiopia. With hundreds of concubines, all of whom hoped to ascend to wife status with the birth of a son, it was a big operation. Chief wives had their own quarters, where they lived with their children and servants. Young girls were brought to the palace to train as concubines. I'm sure there's lots more to learn about this system, which I'll try to do soon. The day was hot, but there are plenty of cool, shaded areas to rest, and lots of fountains and water sounds to add to the cooling effect.

Topkapi entrance

Harem entrance

Sultan's toilet in the Harem

Ahmet's library niches

in the Sultan's suite

view to the Golden Horn

typical summer pavilion overlooking the gardens and the Bosporus

cooling pool with water spouts where everyone refreshed themselves

throne pavilion

kitchen wing-they sometimes prepared food for 10,000 to 15,000 people at once, note the smokestacks at the top.

earlier porcelain vase

Japanese porcelain 19th c. brought along the silk road

Women in full covering-some including only the eyes showing - in this heat, it makes me marvel that they put up with it, the long coats are heavy (denim, khaki) and the black ones absorb the sun completely. sigh.....

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