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Topkapi Palace Istanbul Reviews
Topkapı Sarayı Apr 04, 2015
Have you heard for the historical Turkish TV soap opera " Muhteşem Yüzyıl"? Well, it was one of the reasons why I wanted to enter and explore this palace by myself.
Topkapı Palace was the residence of the Ottoman sultans for 400 years. It was the center of imperial administration as well as the residence of the sultan and therefor the palace was the witness almost all of the most important events in the history of the Ottoman Empire.
Topkapi is a complex of individual buildings built on the prime site of the historical peninsula of Istanbul with the views of the Istanbul Strait and the Sea of Marmara. The walls surrounding the gardens of the palace were commissioned by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. The initial building was comleted in 1478 during the reign of Sultan Bayezid II and since then enlarged several times.
The total area of Topkapı Palace was much larger than what it is today. From one side it is surrounded by Gülhane Parkı. Walking through the Sultan Ahmet Meydani- square, besides the Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III, you'll have to pass first the Imperial Gate( Bâb-ı Hümâyûn), the main entrance into the First Courtyard, a beautiful wooded garden. This monumental portal was built during the reign of Sultan Mehmet the Conqeror.
During the Ottoman Period it was forbidden to ordinary people to enter into the most parts of the palace. On certain days the first courtyard was open to the public when people pursued their busines and put forward complains to officials. Today everybody can enter this park without a fee.
At the Gate of Salutation( Bâb-üs Selâm), entrance to the Second Courtyard, you'll see long lines of visitors, waiting to pass the security control and to show the tickets. The second couttyard was named Courtyard of the Imperial Council as the audiences of the embassies were held here. To the right is the first building Palace Kitchens with high chimneys, opened to visitors. Here were prepared daily meals for the household. Today it is a museum with exhibition of the kitchenware of the Ottoman palaces. On the left of the courtyard is Chamber of the Imperial Council- Divan for meetings chaired by sultans and later their grand viziers.
Harem Dairesi was the most secret area of the palace only available to the sultan, his family members and servants.
At last there is The Imperial Mint (Darphane-i Âmire) after you get into the Third courtyard with several pavilions: the Audience Hall of the sultan, the Library of Sultan AhmetIII, an exhibition of robes worn by the sultans and their families, an exhibition of miniatures. In front of the pavilion with the Imperial jewels is the longest queque, something like at the very entrance to the palace. You may spend an hour standing to get inside, but once you enter, you forget all troubles with a sight of the magnificent pieces of precious stones and metals. Here are kept all the riches of the Ottoman Empire, which was one of the most important and richest empires of the world for 600 years.
In the center of the third courtyard is the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle where are held the Sacred Relics( Kutsal Emanetler Dairesi) of Peygamber: a bow, one tooth, a hair of his beard, his battle sabres, an autographed letter, and many other things.
From the upper terrace with a fountain and the Baghdad kiosk is a marvelous view of the Galata quarter on the opposite side of the Golden Horn( Haliç). On the other side of the palace there are stairs that leads to the spacious modern restaurant with the excellent view of the Bosphorus. There you can have the same meals that were prepared for the sultan centuries ago. Prices follow the quality. If you want to see all of the parts of this enorme palace, you'll really need a break in this restaurant or somewhere in the gardens.
In the Third Courtyard opposite of a nicely decorated drinking fountain, there is a very old hollow tree, that also attracts attention of the visitors.
In the Fourth Courtyard or Imperial Sofa is important to visit two pavilions that commemorate Sultan Murat IV's conquest of Yerevan and Baghdad in the 17th century.
The palace can be visited between 9 a.m. - 5p.m. every day except Tuesdays. Ticket for the palace per person costs 30 TL. If you want to visit Harem section you'll have to pay additional 15 TL. You can buy it online or in the First Courtyard. On the exit from the palace, there is a little gift shop, like in all this type museums, that you can enter only after you pass the security control at the main entrance, in other words with already payed visit.
Part of the From Turkey with Love travel blog
Part of the list Istanbul
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