Saturday, September 21, 2013

A little more of Istanbul . . .

Harem, Topkapi Palace (Camp)
Today, we'll take a peek at the Topkapi Palace.

What fascinated me more than the three grand courtyards, each more exclusive than the next that led into the Palace complex, was our short tour of the harem, accessible only through a small gate at the very heart of the Palace.

We entered the harem through the narrowest of halls to discover a tiny, dark courtyard of flagstones and mosaic, and two-three story apartments on each side. Here the least favorite wives and concubines lived.

As we passed through successive halls and gates into the inner sanctum, the courtyards became larger, the decorations more ornate with filigree and the famous Turkish Iznik tiles (brilliant colors in a 'frame and meander' pattern), until we were favored with a stunning view of hanging gardens and the Bosphorous.

Iznik Tiles, Topkapi Palace (Camp)
Our guide confided that the competition for the throne during the Ottoman Empire was so great at one time, that different factions resorted to assassinations to remove potential rulers. So one queen arranged for her son to be put in a 'gilded cage,' a private room he could not leave, located in the very heart of the harem. His mother arranged for every delicacy to be delivered -- music, rich foods, and dancing girls. He remained secluded until he was crowned. The result was disaster.But the room remains, a fascinating blend of opulence and horror.

The prince's 'cage' at Topkapi Palace (Camp)

The prince's cage overlooking Bosphorus (Camp)
Though we spent the day wandering here, I fear I'm not doing justice to the scale of Topkapi or its history of 400 years. It's easy to believe that over 4,000 people once lived here, given this lovely shot from Wikipedia. I would happily return to Istanbul to learn more of this UNESCO World Site.

The Topkapi Palace Complex (Wikipedia)

Did I see a mermaid on our travels? For your viewing pleasure, a Turkish mermaid. I do not know her story -- yet!

Tomorrow, a small, very small corner of the marketplace!

Read a little more:
About Topkapi Palace on Wikipedia
Additional history from the Topkapi Palace Museum


Sandy Brown Jensen said...

Yes, I, too, am fascinated by the lives of the harem women --then and now. And the prince in the gilded cage? What was she thinking???

Deniz Bevan said...

Great post, Beth! I'd like to see more of Topkapi myself - only took one quick tour and I feel like I missed a lot!