Well, I feel a bit better today, as my flu symptoms seem to have improved or gone away. After breakfast this morning, I picked up my laundry at the cleaners. Afterwards, I decided to visit the Mosaic Museum, which I will tell you about tomorrow. Quite an amazing place. However, today’s post is going to be about Topkapi Palace. I visited the palace almost a week ago and I already am having a difficult time placing details to some of the photographs I took there. Consequently, some of these photos will not have a caption. I can only guarantee that they were taken at the palace. Grin.
Topkapi Palace was designed in part by Sultan Mehmed II, along with 4 other architects. The Sultan ordered the construction of the palace in the 1460s. The palace was home to Ottoman Sultans for 400 years of their 624 year reign. The palace complex consists of 4 main courtyards, with many smaller buildings. At its height, the palace was home to over 4000 people. It had a mint, hospital, bakeries, kitchens, harem, and mosques. Apparently, it was initially referred to as the New Palace, but later was renamed Topkapi (Cannon Gate).
Although the palace is quite beautiful, the design is such that I wasn’t overwhelmed with a sense of “awe” as I was with the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. With the 4 courtyards, numerous low slung buildings, including the harem, and a wall surrounding the entire complex – it seems a bit disjointed as if the original design by Sultan Mehmed II wasn’t satisfactory to future Sultans, which resulted in numerous add-ons (to please each new ruler). Consequently, this asymetrical layout wasn’t appealing to me. However, I did like the views of the Bosphorus strait from numerous spots inside the palace, as well as a beautiful park that is adjacent to the palace (Gulhane Park, which was the former Imperial Flower Park).
I have one other criticism of the Palace or rather the Topkapi Palace museum administration – IT’S TOO DAMN CROWDED! Unless, you have already purchased a ticket or a 72 hour museum pass (as I did), you will initially face two lines. That’s just the beginning. Then you get hosed for another ticket, if you want to enter the Harem. Oh yeah, another long line there too. There are also lines for the kitchen and weapons buildings. That’s five lines total. Guess what? There are even more lines for other palace attractions, such as the tomb building. Yikes! Seriously folks, it’s almost as if a bunch of cattle are being herded into the various buildings. I find it hard to believe that someone can’t figure out a system or process to ensure all parts of the museum are being used equally by tourists. During my visit, I heard NUMEROUS people complaining about the crowds and the security personnel, who seem to have no specific role (besides ensuring that you don’t use your camera flash and taking smoke breaks). If at all possible, try to to avoid visiting the palace on weekends and Monday (due to the Hagia Sophia being closed on Monday, that crowd usually shifts over to the Topkapi Palace because of its close proximity).
Personally, I went with the flow and although I didn’t see every single square foot of the palace, I did see quite a bit. I actually enjoyed walking around the palace grounds much more than I did going inside the buildings, if only because I wasn’t breathing down someone’s neck and someone wasn’t breathing down mine. Ha. Also, if you get a chance, do visit the adjacent Gulhane park, which goes all the way to the shoreline road. You can take that road to the Spice Market which is located near the Bosphorus ferries. It’s a very nice walk, with views of the Bosphorus, Golden Horn and Sea of Marmara. The rest of the photos that follow may not have captions because – as I alluded to above – the details are a bit hazy to me. Take care, Steve. 🙂