We continue our stay in the Orient. In part two I will show you the Topkapi Palace, which is a large palace in Istanbul that was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign.
This is a multi part series. Other parts include:
click on the images for a bigger view
A view from the Topkapi palace on the rest of Istanbul. The palace is located up hill and offers up a great view of the city and the Bosporus.
The Gate of Felicity is the entrance into the Inner Court, also known as the Third Courtyard, marking the border to the Outer Court or Birûn. The Third Courtyard comprises the private and residential areas of the palace. The gate has a dome supported by lean marble pillars. It represents the presence of the Sultan in the palace.
It also houses dogs, who are sleeping carelessly in the royal gardens :)
The main street leading to the palace is the Byzantine processional Mese avenue, today Divan Yolu (Street of the Council). The Mese was used for imperial processions during the Byzantine and Ottoman era. It leads directly to the Hagia Sophia and takes a turn northwest towards the palace square where the landmark Fountain of Ahmed III stands.
The palace complex is located on the Seraglio Point, a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, with a good view of the Bosporus from many points of the palace. The site is hilly and one of the highest points close to the sea.
The Topkapi Palace was the main residence of the sultan and his court. It was initially the seat of government as well as the imperial residence. Even though access was strictly regulated, inhabitants of the palace rarely had to venture out since the palace functioned almost as an autonomous entity, a city within a city.
A strict, ceremonial, codified daily life ensured imperial seclusion from the rest of world. One of the central tenets was the observation of silence in the inner courtyards.
The Audience Chamber, also known as Audience Hall or Chamber of Petitions (Arz Odası), is right behind the Gate of Felicity to hide the view towards the Third Courtyard. This square building is an Ottoman kiosk, surrounded by a colonnade of 22 columns, supporting the large roof with hanging eaves. Inside is the main throne room with a dome and two smaller adjacent rooms.
The viziers came here to present their individual reports to the sultan. Depending on their performance and reports, the sultan showed his pleasure by showering them with gifts and high offices, or in the worst case having them strangled by deaf-mute eunuchs. The chamber was thus a place that officials reporting to the sultan entered without knowing if they would leave it again alive.
Surrounding the whole complex of the First to the Fourth Courtyard are the outer palace gardens. A part of this area that is facing the sea is also known as the Fifth Place.
End of Part Two
To be continued...
In the final part which will be uploaded tomorrow we will take a cruise along the Bosporus, and see the maritime side of Istanbul, as well as various locations hidden along the coastline.