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Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace was built as the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans shortly after their conquest of Constantinpole in 1453.  They resided there until 1839 when they moved the residence to a more 'European-style' palace farther up the Bosphorus. The view directly out the main gate is that of the Blue Mosque in the distance.

Entry courtyard

There are four courts in the Palace, each serving a specific function and a specific population.  The third courtyard was the Sultan's private domain.


The second courtyard housed the Palace kitchens, harem, and served as the official entrance to the Palace where State dignitaries were met and received. 
We took the guided tour through the Harem, the secret backrooms where the Sultan's women plotted (and in some cases ran the empire). The glint of gold leaf was everywhere, and the fantastic artwork to be found on the walls and ceilings attested to the comfort of life in this inner sanctum.
The first courtyard housed the Sultan's Janissaries - men who had been taken as slaves from throughout the Empire and brought to Istanbul to train in the Sultan's service.  The fourth courtyard was added later in the Palace's history and served as a garden, library, pool and gathering place for the Royal family.


The Palace is full of gorgeous Iznik tiles.  Iznik is the Nicaea of old (as in the Catholic Creed). For hundreds of years, it was THE major tile-producing area in the Ottoman Empire. 
All of the fabulous mosques built during the Ottoman Empire (which included, at its height, all of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, North Africa, Asia Minor and Eastern Europe - to the gates of Vienna) contained these stunning blue tiles.


There is also a shrine to the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) located in the palace. It features a reader reciting sura from the Qur'an (which Breck was fascinated by) and relics of the Prophet including his sword and pieces of his hair.

Topkapi is a beautiful oasis of peace inside the busy city, full of art and nature to savor and enjoy...

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