Topkapi Palace

Holy Banners, courtyards and chambers of Topkapi Palace

The Gate of Felicity
The Gate of Felicity

Istanbul is filled with so many beautiful and amazing buildings and one of these fabulous buildings is the Topkapi royal palace. I entered the Inner Court of Topkapi Palace through the Gate of Felicity, but it looked more like a grand entrance than a gate. This Inner Courtyard holds the private and residential areas of the palace. In the past no one could have passed through this gate without the authority of the Sultan. Even the Grand Vizier was only granted authorisation on specified days and under specified conditions. So without authorisation I stepped through the gate to where a small, indented stone on the ground marks the place where the banner of Muhammad was unfurled. The Grand Vizier or the commander going to war was entrusted with this banner in a solemn ceremony.

Stone marker for the Holy Banner
Stone marker for the Holy Banner
Main entrance to the Audience Chamber, with the small fountain of Suleiman I to the right, and the large gifts window to the left
Main entrance to the Audience Chamber, with the small fountain of Suleiman I to the right, and the large gifts window to the left

The Audience Chamber is right behind the Gate of Felicity. 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 which was unfortunately closed. And even though I tried I couldn’t really see anything through the grated windows.

Arz Odası, the Audience Chamber
Arz Odası, the Audience Chamber

Main entrance to the Audience Chamber, with the small fountain of Suleiman I to the right, and the large gifts window to the left

There is a small fountain at the entrance of the main palace which was used not only for refreshment, but also to prevent others from overhearing secret conversations in these rooms. It must have been quite noisy but today it is only used as a refreshment fountain.

The Conqueror's Pavillon (Fatih Köşkü) houses the Imperial Treasury
The Conqueror’s Pavillon (Fatih Köşkü) houses the Imperial Treasury
Hallway of the Conqueror's Pavillon
Hallway of the Conqueror’s Pavillon

Topkapi Palace  was the heart of the vast Ottoman Empire for nearly 400 years. The ruler lived in Topkapı’s hundreds of rooms with hundreds of concubines, children, and servants. The Sultan and his entourage had a huge courtyard with extensive gardens just for their private use.

The Inner Court holding these beautifully kept gardens has a couple of benches where you can sit down and rest your tired feet after a day of exploring. The only thing lacking was a lovely ice-coffee as I sat down for a rest before exploring the rest of the palace.

Conqueror’s Pavilion
Conqueror’s Pavilion

The last building left to explore was the Conqueror’s Pavilion, and the arcade of the pavilion which is one of the oldest buildings inside the palace. It was built in 1460, when the palace was first constructed, and was also used to store works of art and treasure. Today it houses the Imperial Treasury which is quite a sight to behold.

 

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