Sultans' palaces

The Topkapı Palace and the surrounding parks and building take a lot of space in the historic centre of Istanbul. The palace itself is formed by several buildings, like the kitchen which was used to cook for several hundreds of people every day. Now, here you can see exhibitions of gold, jewellery and ceramics owned by the sultan. There are pavilions were the sultan could have a cup of tea while looking over the Bosporus. There are other buildings were you can now see costumes (of the sultan), weapons (of the sultan) and so on. Strangely, there is also a building with religious items, like some teeth of the prophet Mohammed, some dust that laid close to his chest and so on. This is a place of worship inside the palace, and all the time some-one is reciting verses from the Q'uran.

Impressive shield

Entrance to the Harem

You can also visit the harem. You have to join a guided tour, but because the group is very big, guided means mostly you are not allowed to stay behind.

Columns inside the Harem

We did manage to hear some of the information the guide gave. Like at one time there lived about 1,000 women in the harem. They came from all over the country the sultan possessed, so at the best times from Persia to Spain. And they lived for 7 years in the harem. After that, they could either retire and leave to marry some guy who didn't mind, or go to the palace for retired harem-girls somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Entrance room

The sultan was allowed to have four 'real' wives and about a dozen of favourite concubines. The other 984 girls arranged themselves in a picking order, in which the lowest were to serve the higher ones. But it is only for 7 years ...

Just a little bit decorated


In the middle of the 19th century, sultan Abdülmecit thought the Topkapı palace was a bit out of fashion and he decided to build a new palace: Dolmabahçe palace. It is situated on the shore of the Bosporus. Strangely enough, the architect didn't make great use of that aspect. There are some places where you can look outside the window over the water. But the palace is symmetrical over the axis along the water, so at the other side there must be a window looking against a boring hill. At least, at the time the palace was built. Now it looks towards some ugly office buildings.

Dolmabahce Palace

A gate and the Bosporus

The sultans teacups

The red room

The Great Hall

The inside of the palace is really wonderful. The decorations and furniture remind of famous palaces like Versailles. The tour ends in the big ceremonial hall, a real Grand finale with a beautiful domes roof and the biggest chandelier of Turkey. And the biggest hand knotted carpet of Turkey (not of the world, these are both in Turkmenistan).
Clock Tower

Inspection !!!

After the changing of the guides, the one who has to guard the palace for the next couple of hours is inspected to the last detail. Well, it has to be done, but in front of fifty annoying children ??? We would buy our military time off, even if it has to cost 20,000 euro.