Saturday, April 27, 2013
Istanbul's famous Topkapi palace
After a two-kilometre walk through the teeming streets of Istanbul, we finally arrived at Seraglio Point, home of the Topkapi Palace. Being a big fan of Jason Goodwin's books about the detective Yashim, the eunuch, I was very excited to be here where all the action in the books takes place. There are large grounds surrounding the palace with beautiful tulip gardens of every colour.
To recover from the crush in the Treasury we had a much needed coffee overlooking the busy Bosphorus. Next we visited the display of arms with many ornately embellished swords as well as the crude iron swords used by the European crusaders. The Ottoman chain mail must have been very heavy to wear.
We moved on to the huge collection of European clocks either given as gifts to the sultans or bought by them. Some of the clocks were quite simple while one contained a German organ that played tunes on the hour. The only male European eyewitness accounts of life in the Harem were written by mechanics who serviced the clocks.
The Circumcision Pavilion was where the 10-year-old boys were taken to be circumcised. Nearby were the Baghdad Pavilion and the Ifariye Pavilion, both built to commemorate battles but later turned into libraries. The Baghdad pavilion has exquisite blue and white tile work.
It was time for a well deserved salad for lunch, which we enjoyed sitting outside near the palace but in a tranquil park setting.