Tourists take over Topkapi Palace! Details here!
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 143 of 251 › view all entries
July 13th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Our first destination was Topkapi Palace. This palace was the home to sultans and their harems from about 1450 until the mid-19th century. It once housed over 5,000 residents, some of whom spent their entire lives behind the palace walls.
When we arrived, I took out my camera to get a shot of the entrance gate. But all I got was the dreaded flashing “NO CF” message. Noooooo! I’d forgotten the memory card at home! Luckily I had my small snapshot camera as a backup…I hate this camera, can’t control anything on it or get a good shot to save my life, but at least I’ll be able to record our visit. Grumble grumble.
We paid the 10TYL (seems this is what they charge for everything in Istanbul) and walked into the Second Courtyard, which had lawns, gardens and pavilions. Directional signage does not exist at the palace, so it’s somewhat difficult to find a clear path to follow -- and it’s an extremely large complex with gardens, terraces, and many buildings, large and small.
We exited this and found ourselves in the Third Courtyard. Just ahead of us was a crazed mob of people trying to squeeze into a columned, marble building. People were shoving and generally acting like animals to get into this place. Steve and I decided nothing was worth joining that group, so we walked on.
Next was the Imperial Wardrobe. Garments from various sultans were stiffly mounted and displayed in glass cases. Some were very small, some very, VERY large. The clothing looked decidedly Asian.
The most interesting rooms are to be found in the Treasury, where the opulent gems, fancy thrones, jewel-encrusted swords, and gifts from foreign dignitaries can be found.
We were both fed up with the crowds and desperate to leave, but having paid 40TYL (about $35), I was determined to cover the place! So we moved quickly through the Fourth Courtyard, where some nice breezy terraces that overlooked the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.
But first, a stop in the Armory on our way out. And we had it all nearly to ourselves! Wonderful! I am not a huge fan of guns, swords, and armor, but I enjoyed having space to view the displays without being pushed out of the way, so I spent time inspecting every single item. Steve really enjoyed this area as well. It was pretty interesting.
Then we walked back through it all to the main gate, and were amazed to see more and more people pouring up the path to the ticket booth. What a money-maker this must be! It’s too bad they don’t invest some of it in good signage and something to help traffic flow better. For us, Topkapi Palace wasn’t worth the cost, and neither of us enjoyed it much at all, despite the nice stop in the Armory.
Next, we managed to find an equally overpriced lunch. We went to a place recommended by Fodor’s called Konuk Evi. It was very near the Palace and promised to be a “break from the hustle and bustle.” Our waiter was rude and kept forgetting about us, and the food was OK but really overpriced (about $50 for two small portions and two sodas!) Feeling suitably screwed, we decided to just head home even though we had planned to go to the Archeology Museum next.
On the way home, Steve stopped at a music store he had spotted earlier. Oddly, the owner seemed annoyed to be disturbed, and wouldn’t unwrap the instruments for Steve to look at. So we left, scratching our heads. Back to our apartment to enjoy the balcony… no crowds there!
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