Topkapi Palace boasts a view fit for a Sultan – situated on a point of land that juts between the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn, at the top of a hill overlooking the city of Istanbul, the Bosphorous, and two continents. but the most entrancing part about our tour through this palace-turned-museum [for me, anyway] were the intricate inlays, carved doorways and windows, geometric metalwork, and delicately painted tiles.
I’m a sucker for the details, and I’ve got the photos to prove it.
Topkapi Palace was built after the Ottomans conquered the Byzantines [on the ruins of their acropolis, actually] and it was home to the Sultans for nearly 400 years. throughout that time it was constantly being expanded and renovated. while this resulted in a rather haphazard arrangement of courtyards and buildings, it also decorated the palace compound with varying examples of the finest decorative styles throughout the centuries.
appropriately enough, we wore our patterned harem pants for the visit – though we did clash with most of the decor. every room and passage was swathed in colors, carvings, and detailed designs. according to Husband, I took a photo of every tile and doorway in the entire palace that day. given that a large portion was under restoration, this was clearly not true. but I would have.
one of my favorite spaces in the palace was this kiosk. I could just imagine lounging here with a book, windows open to a breeze from the garden… I mean, really. what’s the fun of visiting a palace if you don’t envision yourself living there as a princess?
but I’m pretty sure this kiosk was not constructed for bookish princesses. in fact, the royal ladies [and the children] had a separate but impressive section of the palace that was their domain: the harem.
when it comes to pattern mixing, the Ottomans were pro. somehow the wild blend of colors and textures everywhere just adds to the opulence of the palace. it’s a lot to take in – plan to spend several hours exploring – but Topkapi should be on your list of sights to see when in Istanbul.
touring the harem costs an additional admission fee, but it contains some of the most beautiful rooms. I would suggest buying a Museum Pass, as the admission for the palace and harem and the nearby Hagia Irene [or any other museum in Istanbul such as the Hagia Sofia] will add up to the same cost or more. since the pass lasts for 5 days you’ll have plenty of time to make use of it!
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