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Dec 4, 2017

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Dec 3, 2017

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Dec 3, 2017

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Perfect service
Dec 1, 2017

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Dec 1, 2017

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Nov 27, 2017

We (my 15 yr old son and I) went by taxi from Istanbul airport (SAW) to the center of Istanbul. We were pick-up at the exact time and brought safe and quick to the city. The driver was very helpful to us. We booked the taxi by internet for a fixed price I would advice safe airport transfer to everyone (better and cheaper; no sudden hidden costs...) The car was also very comfortable.
Best Limousine Service Istanbul Airport.
Nov 27, 2017

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Nov 24, 2017

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Nov 23, 2017

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Super Service
Nov 23, 2017

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Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayı)

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, Topkapi Palace was the court of the Ottoman rulers. The structure has colourful stories, dozens of them, about the libidinous sultans, beautiful concubines, ambitious courtiers and eunuchs who spent their days scheming. The pavilions and courts are particularly opulent and the Treasury was filled with rare jewels. The expansive area of the Harem offers a small peek into the lives of those who lived there.

The first portion of the Topkapi Palace was begun following the Conquest in the mid-1400s by Mehmet the Conqueror. The palace was his home until his demise in 1481. His successors lived in the elaborate surroundings until the 1800s when they built and inhabited palaces in the European style located on the Bosphorus Sea.

Just outside the Imperial Gate of the palace, be sure you spend a few minutes to enjoy the ornate Fountain of Sultan Ahmet. This sultan loved tulips and his rococo-style structure, erected in 1728, reflects his preference. The ticket office for the complex is located in First Court environs, near the gate leading to the Second Court.

 

First Court

The First Court is also popularly designated as the Parade Court (Court of the Janissaries). If you look to your left, you will see the Byzantine-style structure of Hagia Eirene church. It is known popularly as  Aya İrini.

 

Second Court

The Ortakapı is the Middle Gate, also known as  the Bab-üs Selâm. Passing through this gate leads to the Second Court of the palace. Those who had business to conduct regarding the Ottoman Empire came to the Second Court. By tradition, the sultan and his mother (valide sultan) were permitted to remain on horseback while passing via the Middle Gate. All others were required to dismount before entering.

The style of  Topkapı is unlike that of European palaces. The Second Court is one of a number of pavilions, audience chambers, barracks, kiosks, kitchens and sleeping rooms arranged in a ring surrounding a central area. European palaces, typically are constructed with one central building and outlying gardens. The Second Court is parklike and inviting in nature.

As you step into the Second Court, you can turn to your right to see the Palace Kitchens. They have been undergoing restoration for many years and not open for public access. It is hoped that when they are again open to the public, they will show some of the enormous display of Chinese caladon porcelain held by Topkapı. The beauty of the porcelain is part of its appeal to the sultans, but it was also believed to signal the presence of poisoned food by changing colour.

If you turn to the western side you will see the highly decorated Imperial Council Chamber. The sultan had the ability to eavesdrop on council discussions by listening through a gold grille placed on the upper part of the wall. On the right is a room where the collection of palace clocks is on display. The Outer Treasury is located north of the Imperial Council Chamber. Here, you will be able to view the sizable collection of armour  and arms from both the Ottomans and Europeans.

 

Harem

On the west perimeter of the Second Court, you will see the access way for the Harem. It is located below the Tower of Justice. Visitors are encouraged to take the time to visit this part of the palace, which requires a specific ticket.

Contrary to popular understanding, the Haren was the family quarters for the Sultan's family. The details of life in the Harem were restricted by ceremonies, obligations and traditions. The Haarem was not a place of debauchery, but, as the name indicates, was a “forbidden” or “private” place.

The Harem held up to three hundred concubines, although the population was not typically as large. The girls entering the quarters would be given lessons in religion (Islam), and the language and  culture of Turkey. They also learned reading, writing, make-up, embroidery, clothing, dancing, comportment and music. The girls then became part of a meritocracy. They served as ladies-in-waiting to the children and concubines of the sultan. They then might be 'promoted' to serve the valide sultan.  Especially beautiful and talented young women might serve in the presence of the sultan.

According to Islamic law, a sultan could mary four wives. The women were given the title of “kadın”. Wives who gave the sultan a son received the title of haseki sultan. Mothers of daughters to the sultan were known as haseki kadı.

The Harem's undisputed ruler was the mother of the sultan. She often owned land and estates which she controlled through the black eunuchs who served her. She was permitted to issue orders to the Grand Vizier directly. Her influence on various factors and people related to the sultan, even extending to the choice of his spouses and concubines, as well as on state matters was highly significant.

There are around three hundred rooms in the Harem. Construction on the earliest of these began in 1574 through 1595 during the rule of Murat III. Harems of sultans who ruled prior to Murat III were located at the Old Palace (Eski Saray) which is now demolished. The site for the Old Palace is near Beyazıt Meydanı.

Only one of the six floors which make up the Harem complex is avasilable for public viewing. Approach the Harem by way of the Carriage Gate, which leads to the Dome with Cupboards. The space where eunuch guard members were stationed lies beyond this dome. The room features Kütahya tiles dating back to the 17th century.

The Courtyard of the Black Eunuchs which lies behind the guard room also features Kütahya tiles. You will see marble colonnades to your left where the Black Eunuchs' Dormitories. Originally, white eunuchs served the sultans. The black eunuchs were gifted to the sultans by Egypt's Ottoman governor. Up to two hundred eunuchs lived in the dormitories, acting as guards for the entrances, and servants to the Harem women.

Once you cross the courtyard, you come to the Main Gate leading to the Harem and a guard room. There are two enormous gilded mirrors placed here. The left-hand corridor brings you to the Courtyard of the Concubines and Sultan's Consorts. The entire area is ringed by bathing facilities, a laundry and laundry fountain, as well as dormitories and some private apartments.

As you proceed further on this route, you will arrive at the Sultan Ahmet's Kiosk which has a tiled chimney. The highest concentration of power in the Harem is found in the quarters of the Valide Sultan. The valide sultan managed the people and activities going on in the entire Harem, from her highly ornate quarters. Be sure to plan on spending time in the Salon of the Valide which displays lovely murals from the 1800s with bucolic depictions of Istanbul.

The Courtyard of the Valide Sultan lies next to an ornate reception room and a sizable fireplace. This room in turn opens to a vestibule featuring both  İznik and  Kütahya tiles from the 1600s. The reception area was where the valide sultan, senior concubines, and princes waited their turn in the Imperial Hall and a consultation with the sultan. This distinguished Hall was constructed during the rule of Murat III. Osman III (1754 – 1757) ordered a redecoration of the space in Baroque style.

The Privy Chamber of Murat III contains almost all original decorations, believed to be attributed to the designer Sinan. It has a three-level marble fountain intended to prevent eavesdropping on the conversations of the sultan. The fountain was recently restored and visitors can appreciate the sound of the fountain waters. The seating areas with gilded canopies were added during the 1700s.

You can continue on to see the Privy Chamber of Ahmed III with a dining room constructed in 1705. Wooden panels line the room and feature lacquered imagtes of fruits and flowers. As you continue through the northeast (right) door, you will enter two attractive rooms, the Crown Prince's Twin Kiosks. These rooms were added from around 1600. In the first room, look up to see the canvas dome with painted decorations above. In the second room, above the fireplace are fine İznik tile panels. Note also the panes of stained glass.

Continuing on east from the Kiosks of the Crown Prince is the Courtyard of the Favourites, which is actually a terrace, and a sizable pool. On the floor above this courtyard, but just beyond it are many cramped and dark kafes where male relatives of sultans were confined.

The Golden Road is a passage which continues on to the east and eventually into the Third Court of the palace. The visitors' path through the Harem can vary as certain rooms are under stabilisation or restoration purposes.

 

Third Court

The Gate of Felicity leads into the Third Court. This area was the private domain of the sultan.. White eunuchs served as guards and staff for the sultan. The sultan's quarters include the Audience Chamber, built in the 1500s and renovated in the two centuries later. When foreign ambassadors and high officials arrived, they were ushered into this small chamber where state business was conducted. The sultan was enthroned on a sizable couch, from where he looked over the various gifts and presents brought by the officials.

Behind the Audience Kiosk is the attractive Library of Ahmet III, which was constructed in 1719.

The Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force lies along the east side of the Third Court. Today, the extensive collections of uniforms, kaftans and imperial robes with embroidery in thread made of gold and silver. The displays also include talismanic shirts. These garments were purported to protect against various types of enemies and misfortunes.

Opposite the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force are the rooms for Sacred Safekeeping. The rooms are embellished with  İznik tiles and display many relics attributed to the Prophet. During the time when the palace housed the sultans, the rooms were entered only on the 15th day of Ramazan in order that the imperial families could reflect on the Prophet's memory.

The Dormitory of the Privy Chamber is located adjacent to the Safekeeping Rooms. Here you should take time to look over the collection of portraits of three dozen sultans. There is a painting by Konstantin Kapidagli of particular note. It portrays the Enthronement Ceremony of Sultan Selim III from 1789.

 

Treasury

Visit  Topkapı's Treasury, which forms the eastern limit of the Third Court. The building originally was intended as reception rooms under the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror in 1460. The Treasury houses incredibly beautiful objects made of precious metals and decorated with gems such as diamonds, jade, rubies, emeralds and pearls.

Some of the highlights in the first room include the Arife Throne of Ahmed I and Süleyman the Magnificent's sword encrusted with jewels. The throne was created by the designer of the Blue Mosque, Sedefhar Mehmet  Ağa. It is inlaid with mother-of-pearl. There are three additional imperial thrones displayed in the Treasury.  The most famous exhibit in the Treasury is displayed in room four. The Topkapı Dagger was the object of Jules Dassin's film from 1963. The dagger, with a watch set in the pommel and three huge emeralds on the hilt was heisted by the criminal elements. In the same room is the  Kasıkçı Diamond, a 86 carat gem ringed by dozens of smaller diamonds. Mehmet IV wore the fifth largest diamond in the world at his coronation in 1648.

 

Fourth Court

The Fourth Court consists of numerous pleasure pavilions. Mecidiye Köşkü was commissioned by Abdül Mecit who reigned from 1839-61. He based the design on 19th century European models.  Below this structure is the Konyah restaurant, which is known more for the views which can be seen from its terrace,  than for its cuisine. The Head Physician's Pavilion, always a Jewish subject, lies west of  Mecidiye Köşkü. The Kiosk of Mustafa Pasha, also known as the Sofa  Köşkü lies nearby. While Ahmet III who fancied tulips, reigned, the Tulip Garden which surrounded the kiosk always contained the latest varieties of tulips.

If you climb the stairs beyond the Tulip Garden, you arrive at the Marble Terrace. This platform contains a decorative pool and a small building commissioned in the reign of  İbrahim I in 1640. It was intended as a place to break the Ramazan fast. There are also pavilions on the terrace.

The Revan Kiosk was commissioned by Murat IV in 1636 as a celebration for recapturing the city of Yerevan from Persia. Murat constructed the Baghdad Kiosk in 1639, to celebrate his vistory over Baghdad. The Kiosk is one of the remaining classical palace design examples. Be sure to take note of the fine  İznik tiles, as well as the tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl inlay. Look up to admire the painted ceiling. In the ceremonies that admits Muslim boys to manhood, the Circumcision Room ( Sünnet Odası) was used.  İbrahim I built the chamber in 1640. The exterior of the chamber displays especially attractive tile panels.

 

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