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.....

Dolmabache Palace-19th c.-Sultans moved here from Topkapi

We spent the day at the Dolmabache Palace - built by the Sultans in the mid-19th century emulating European palaces, with lots of crystal chandeliers, gorgeous Turkish rugs in a more European style, etc. Right on the Bosporus, it gets cool breezes all day, and allows easy access by water.

crystal staircase (Baccaharat)

skylight and chandelier above the crystal staircase

Baccharat crystal spindles on the double staircase


Sultan's bath

diplomatic reception room

china treasures

table covered in tiles

tile stove

caterers preparing for a wedding in the evening-thought of Tina & David Dennison

A day on the Bosporus ferry, then the Grand Bazaar

The Bosporus ferry (public) takes about 6 hours total, and is a gorgeous trip. The breeze off the water is cool, and the scenery exotic and beautiful. One of my favorites is to see the Yalis, summer homes of Istanbul's wealthier folks.

breakfast in the hotel courtyard before departure

the Yali on the left was featured in Architectural Digest. It has a pool on the right side and a pool house.

typical Yali (summer house) next to the Bosporus

lunch beside the Bosporus at the end of the ferry-

lots of shipping here, and VERY strategic location between east and west

End of the ferry line on the European side, where we had lunch and climbed up near the fort. We were about 5 km from the entrance to the Black Sea.


Bigger and brighter than we expected, all under roof, with arches, and 4,000 shops

gold merchant