Connect with us on:         Active members : 9618
PLACES TO VISIT IN AFGHANISTAN   CMT fair – Stuttgart 2017 to showcase tourist Albania   WELCOME TO ALGERIA   American Samoa — Attractions   ANDORRA SHOPING   Welcome to Angola   Bariloche   Ancient Cave Dwellings of Armenia   20 free things to do in Melbourne   INNSBRUCK ALTRADT   TOP 4 SHOPPING MALLS IN BAKU   Bahrain — Attractions   St. Martin’s Island   Visa-free entry for foreigners to Grodno   SEMOIS VALLEY   Fewer tourists avail homestay services in Phobjikha   Top 10 Places to Party In La Paz   Albanian Airways Holiday   Bumba Meu Boi: a guide to the festival of the ox in Brazil   Ten interesting facts about Brunei   The Ministry of Tourism held a national meeting with representatives of the EDEN network in Bulgaria   SCUBA DIVING IN SIHANOUKVILLE   Trekking   Explore the beutiful landscape and learn the culture of Santigo Island   Patagonia, land of Magellan   8 Most Popular Chinese Dishes You Should Eat   A PHOTOGRAPHERS GUIDE TO VISITING CHRISTMAS ISLAND   Cocos (Keeling) Islands traveller information   From Panama to Colombia...by boat   ZADAR   KYRENIA   Konopiště Chateau and the Archduke's Trophies   Nyhavn, Copenhagen   WHAT TO DO IN DJIBOUTI?   Brno's Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul   Hiking Mt Ramelau: a guide to scaling Timor-Leste's highest peak   Galapagos Island   SAFARI   Neeme Lall Gallery   Tour to ethiopia   10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Falkland Islands   FAROESE FESTIVAL AND MUSIC LIFE   Island paradise: the best resorts in Fiji   A REFRESHING DIP IN ICY WATER?   The French Alps   Best Time to Visit French Guiana   Приглашаем встретить Новый Год 2017 в Грузии!   Neuschwanstein   Gorham’s provides ‘dramatic backdrop’ for BBC Horizon film   многодневная паломническая поездка "Вслед за апостолом Павлом"   GUATEMALA ADVANCES 17 POSITIONS IN COMPETITIVENESS INDEX OF TRAVEL   Bike touring in Guyana: practical information   Top 8 Things to Do with Kids in Hong Kong   Highlights of Budapest   Mysterious Iceland   Best Asian Tours offer Holi celebration at hidden places related to lord Krishna at Nandgaon and Barsana   BOROBUDUR TEMPLE   Reinhold messner climbing experience   Iraq History, Language and Culture   Shows & Entertainment in Ireland   The Holy City: Everything you need to know when traveling to Jerusalem   Венеция карнавал 2017   Tokyo City Guide   Petra   Southern Kazakhstan Tourism Destinations   TRAVEL TO MAASAI MARA KENYA   North Korea Country Profile   Essential Jeju-do: activities on Korea’s tropical island   Kuwait Mosques   To Kazakhstan with Kyrgyz visa and vice versa   Bolaven Plateau Trekking   Kuldiga   Lebanon History, Language and Culture   The Citytrain Winetasting Tour   WHAT TO BRING FROM LITHUANIA   Hiking in Luxembourg   10 must-try Macau foods   WINTER IN MACEDONIA   MADAGASCAR DESTINATION   Choose your own Malaysian island adventure   Water Sports   Learning English in Malta   Hancu Monastery   Cathedral   Hidden Gems of Mongolia: 8 Experiences for the 60+ Traveler   Jbel Toubkal 4167m, Morocco   8 things you can only experience in Myanmar   Looking for Trekking in Nepal? Know well about Nepal   Amsterdam’s Most Underrated Attractions   New Zealand's most wondrous night-time experiences   Nicaragua under radar destinations for 2016.   SKI THE ICONIC NORWEGIAN FJORD REGION   Why Oman is the perfect winter sun destination for golfers   EDWARD RETAINS DIAMOND LEAGUE TITLE   Papua New Guinea: cruising   Travel in Paraguay   Sacred Valley tour guide.   Crucifixion Re-Enactment: a guide to Good Friday in the Philippines   Pier in Sopot   The Cave of Escoural   Visions of Heaven; Romania's famous painted monasteries are the beautiful legacy of a bygone era and vibrant centres of faith for today   "POBEDA" will be flying Baden-Baden   About the Volcanoes National park   Visit to the "Castelli"   Top 5 day trips in Singapore   The National Park of Slovenský raj   Adele in Slovenia   South Georgia / South Sandwich Islands - Antarctic Travel   LANGUAGE/IDIOMATIC TOURISM   Traditional Sinhala & Hindu new year celebrations in April   7 Best Places to Visit in Suriname Before You Die   SKIING THE NORTHERNMOST MOUNTAINS IN THE WORLD: SVALBARD   Sigtuna   Salt Mines   The 10 Most Beautiful Places In Taiwan   Pamir Mountains among first 100 green tourist destinations in the world   VAMOS TANZANIA   Bangkok's best views: top vantage points to admire the Thai capital   The Last Monastery Which Virgin Mary Lived in secret Before Coming To EPHESUS   experience experiatial tourism in uganda   Пять пляжей Ялты получили синий флаг   Affordable luxury: Abu Dhabi’s top 10 best hotels   Cruise Excursions from Liverpool Cruise Terminal   STRATFORD-UPON-AVON   What Kind of Food Do Uruguayans Eat?   Uzbekistan cancel visas   Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square)   Venezuela — Attractions   A thrillseeker’s guide to Vietnam   Get a flavour of the real Jersey with Four Farm Stalls   Top 10 attractions in St. Peter Port   Visa Information for Montenegro   Maglič   Always near sun and bath   Easy Travel System   
FOLLOW US
Hotels Hotels catalog Guides Yachts Companies Transport Coordinator
JOIN US
Search modules Log in
LOG IN
Add email
SUBSCRIBE

The secrets of Topkapi Palace

Opulent Topkapı Palace is the subject of more colourful stories than most of the world’s royal residences put together. It was home to Selim the Sot, who drowned after drinking too much champagne; İbrahim the Mad, who lost his reason after being imprisoned for 22 years by his brother Murat IV; and the malevolent Roxelana, a former concubine who became the powerful consort of Süleyman the Magnificent.

Related article: A guide to Istanbul’s bath houses

These three are only a few of the mad, sad and downright bad Ottomans who lived here between 1465 and 1830. Extravagant relics of their centuries of folly, intrigue, excess and war are everywhere you look. You will see extensive manicured gardens that were once lit by candles riding on tortoises' backs, exquisite tile-encrusted pavilions where royal circumcisions were performed, and golden viewing platforms where the sultans looked upon the Golden Horn (Haliç) and perhaps regretted their sequestered lifestyles. Here great victories in battle were celebrated with lavish banquets presided over by the sultan.

Contemporary accounts written by overawed foreign dignitaries marvelled at the palace's legendary staff of black eunuchs, its famed musicians and its elegant purpose-built pavilions. The palace collections are no less impressive. Started by Mehmet the Conqueror, they were expanded by a succession of sultans who were as interested in philosophy and the arts as they were in conquest and concubines.

Sparkling jewels from every corner of the empire are kept in the Treasury, which is home to the jewel-encrusted dagger that is the object of desire in the 1964 film Topkapi. Lavish costumes are on display in the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force, important Islamic relics are housed in the Sacred Safekeeping Rooms and fine examples of Ottoman calligraphy and portraiture are exhibited in the Quarters of Pages in Charge of the Sacred Safekeeping Rooms.

However, if time is of the essence, head straight to the architecturally magnificent Imperial Harem. Walking through, it is easy to forget that women spent their entire lives here under lock and key. That is if they lived for long at all - according to legend, İbrahim the Mad had his entire harem of 280 women tied in sacks and thrown into the Bosphorus when he tired of them.

As popular belief would have it, the Harem was a place where the sultan could engage in debauchery at will (and Murat III did, after all, have 112 children!). In reality, these were the imperial family quarters, and every detail of Harem life was governed by tradition, obligation and ceremony. The word "harem" literally means "private".

The women of Topkapı's Harem had to be foreigners, as Islam forbade enslaving Muslims. Girls were bought as slaves (often having been sold by their parents at a good price) or were received as gifts from nobles and potentates.

On entering the Harem, the girls would be schooled in Islam and Turkish culture and language, as well as the arts of make-up, dress, comportment, music, reading and writing, embroidery and dancing. They then entered a meritocracy, first as ladies-in-waiting to the sultan's concubines and children, then to the sultan's mother and finally - if they showed sufficient aptitude and were beautiful enough - to the sultan himself.

Ruling the Harem was the valide sultan. She often owned large landed estates in her own name and controlled them through black eunuch servants. Able to give orders directly to the grand vizier, her influence on the sultan, on the selection of his wives and concubines and on matters of state was often profound.

The sultan was allowed by Islamic law to have four legitimate wives, who received the title of kadın (wife). He could have as many concubines as he could support - some had up to 300, although they were not all in the Harem at the same time. If a sultan's wife bore him a son she was called haseki sultan; haseki kadın if it was a daughter. The Ottoman dynasty did not observe primogeniture (the right of the first-born son to the throne), so in princip