The other day, in late afternoon, we visited Topkapi. It was a surprise in terms of interest and magnificence, and so large as to be somewhat bewildering. I am hoping there will be a chance to go back before I have to leave Istanbul, in order to take more in. I do have pictures though, so you all will see what I saw.
The palace was the main residence of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years, from the mid to late 1460s to 1856. It also evolved into the administrative center of government. For more information, visit the Wikipedia entry and the extensive and illuminating pages of Topkapi Web Page.
This web photo (source) shows the the entire palace complex, which including grounds occupies 700,000 square meters:
We'd been running around in the heat that day, so by the time we got to the palace grounds we were just sitting and deciding whether or not to go in. Finally hauling ourselves up, we bought tickets, disappointed to find out they wouldn't sell us tickets to see the harem as there were already too many people set to see it before closing time.
Leaving our cool trees to tromp past the guard cat and the broken stonework to the first objective ~
And quite suddenly we were there at an open gallery, and then allowed into the two linked rooms of the Imperial Chambers ~
Back out onto the gallery. Everywhere you look there is beauty and fabulous workmanship. The Turkish tiles are justifiably famous ~
The next place to visit was the armory where, horrifyingly, no photos were allowed. That of course meant that I simply had to sneak a couple. Only one came out, though, as the items are displayed in a dark room under glass with spot lighting. There are a few images here
Moving on over to another section ~
Ah -- there is the throng waiting to get into the harem ~
You're in Istanbul now?! I'm so jealous. That's near the top of my list of places I want to see.
Wow, the colors and patterns of the palace are exquisitely beautiful and the amount of detail is dizzying. I am surprised that you were able to find an empty building that looks as lovely as everything else. I hope you were able to visit the harem eventually, though.
Good for you for making these on-the-spot reports! Looking forward to more.
Thank you all so much. You know, I look at these pictures so much in process of getting them posted that I'm always afraid I'm clubbing people over the head with them.
Yes, NYCGirl -- those few serene minutes in that beautiful place were a big treat.
I am enjoying Istanbul so much, but boy is it huge & crowded. Still, the people are lovely and there is something about parts of the transit system consisting of ferries across beautiful blue and historical bodies of water that is just magical.
As far as on-the-spot ~ Ha ha ha. I have already been rebuked gently nudged by someone for being so lackadaisical with my threads. Poor Palermo just got tossed aside well before it was finished, not to mention other parts of Sicily. But thank you!
I love all of these photos since I was deprived of the Topkapi both times that I went to Istanbul (well, one of those times was for work, so I didn't get to do much of anything touristy that time except drink raki in the bazaar with my Turkish colleagues). One thing that strikes me of course is the importance of decorative tiles, the same as in Questa's report about Iran. Even though I do know that it is partially because strict Islam frowns upon representing humans in art (or any other way), I'm sure there is more to it than that. The region just clearly decided that tiles would be their speciality and boy they sure went to town on that.
The place across from the harem looks like it would have been just fine as a harem as well, but I'm sure that the real place has the iconic pool around which to lounge in various states of undress.
Oh, did you find that fancy patisserie at the top of Taksim which has the best lukums this side of Mars? It's on a major boulevard just past the left side of the square. I brought a box of them to a Swiss baker who invited me for Christmas in Lenzburg and he decreed that they were more exquisite than Swiss chocolate. 1. He might have been lying. 2. It might have been true, because it is easy to get tired of chocolate in Switzerland at Christmas. But he was a fat old man and seemed honest. (I was actually a friend of a friend of his son, but the Swiss are very generous with their invitations at Christmas.)
Hmm. I might know the one you mean. My hotel is close to Taksim Square, although down in the crummy streets. I'll go by & take a picture of the patisserie & you can see if it's the same one. I must reveal that I am not delighted by Turkish Delight -- too reminiscent of Gummi bears or Haribo. My big weaknesses are halvah & that thing that looks like pistachios rolled up in Wheat Chex.
Continuously wonderful tiles (but you know that already). It is kind of strange to think that modern Turks, unless they are devout and erudite Muslims, cannot even read any of the inscriptions in Arabic script even though the language was not romanized until 1929. It is also interesing to note that the reason behind this was to anchor Turkey to the Western world instead of the Eastern world, even if the Turkish language was expunged of most of the borrowed French words at the same time.
Post by cheerypeabrain on Aug 9, 2015 19:13:25 GMT
What splendidly atmospheric images.... The colours and patterns are glorious Bixa and the structures awe inspiring (and I rarely use that word in a sentence!. I suppose that was the intention...can you imagine walking through the palace dressed in whispering silks and floating diaphanous veils.....
Thanks & sorry I missed your previous comment on the tiles. Really, even the dinky reproductions sold as fridge magnets have charm.
Thanks also on the background on the Turkish writing, about which I was only aware very recently. Yesterday, though, we found a street with all the signs, including that of Turkish Airlines, in Arabic script. As I write this it occurs to me that it may be for the many Syrian people here -- mostly young men, for the obvious reason.
I am not 100% sure that the reason for changing written Turkish to the roman alphabet was so much about linking it to the western world as it was in service of universal literacy. As far as borrowed words -- I try to sound out Turkish words. Today when doing that on a menu board, I realized the "Turkish" word would be pronounced "schnitzel".
Kerouac, there has been a real rise in Muslim clothing since Erdogan arrived. My Turkish friends there are very pissed off about it. (I've never been to Turkey; these are people I met in Amsterdam and Paris).
Thank you, Cheery. I rather think that those tiles must have been inspired by your garden.
Htmb -- good heavens, no! However I have gotten some mileage out of my black skirt -- that droopy number I wear for traveling. It's long enough that if I'm wearing a top with sleeves (very short sleeves), I can drape on a scarf & walk into a mosque without getting a second glance.
Kerouac and LaGatta, I was just as surprised as you all are. And not just by the headscarves -- there are many women covered right to the eyeballs. One thing that makes it hard to judge just how prevalent that clothing is for local women is the number of tourists, immigrants, & refugees here right now. The young women in the sixth to the last picture are quite upscale -- designer scarves and bags. You see other women who've turned that scarf-sackdress combo into quite a fashion statement. Go figure! We were eating in a cafe in a university area & keenly observed the young women walking by. There was a good bit of modern dress, but more of the Muslim clothing in various forms. There is no way for me to know how many of those university women are from Istanbul and how many from other parts of Turkey. I believe that some of the scarf-wearing is a backlash against its banning, and a backlash by young, university women. news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/10/131011-hijab-ban-turkey-islamic-headscarf-ataturk/
The question that kept going through my mind on seeing women in the full dress with head & face covered was whether or not they were going to impose that on their daughters. From what my friend here has been able to glean, some older mothers have been quite okay with their daughters rejecting any form of Muslim dress. I did not see too many pre-pubescent girls dressed in anything but modern dress and saw one completely covered woman with a young teen daughter wearing cute regular teen clothes. AS you can tell, I am fascinated by this subject but as a short-term tourist I cannot come to any definitive conclusions.
Yes, I could tell that the last set were very posh indeed. And some of those sackdresses were very well-tailored. They didn't make the slim young women look shapeless. I always have a longish (midi) dark skirt when travelling - I can curl up on a plane if there is an empty seat and be comfy. Which reminds me that one of my favourite ones is too large now; I'll have to think to have the Colombian lady around the corner take it in.
Much like the capella in Palermo, this is a place where descriptive words fail me. You can see influences from all around the Mediterranean as well as from Persia and India, it's terribly cosmopolitan. The first thing that stands out to me is the insane level of the workmanship down to the tiniest details. The tilework and furnishings like the cabinet in tortoise shell and mother of pearl are done to the highest standard humanly possible. Where this surpasses European design for me is first, the embellishment is added to very clean design, there is not a lot of carving and bas relief and added on ornamentation, the surfaces remain clean and serene even with highly ornamented surfaces applied. The second thing is that the lack of figurative depiction and its replacement by geometric design affords a clean elegance that European ornament of the period with its figurative biblical scenes painted on every available surface. Both are mightily impressive, but the Ottoman aesthetic I find overall more pleasing.
I knew nothing of this place, just as I knew nothing of the awe inspiring capella. Thank you bixa for bringing these architectural masterworks to my and our attention.
... Where this [attention to detail] surpasses European design for me is first, the embellishment is added to very clean design, there is not a lot of carving and bas relief and added on ornamentation, the surfaces remain clean and serene even with highly ornamented surfaces applied. The second thing is that the lack of figurative depiction and its replacement by geometric design affords a clean elegance ...
Beautifully put, Fumobici. You truly sum up how even with this level of ornamentation the overall effect is elegant and serene. Thank you so much. I always look forward to reading your sensitive, incisive comments.
Great pics. When we were there, there were a lot less tourists but a lot more snow... was in ealry march and cold as hell (not really). The tiles are superb and you caught a lot of pics that moved me back in time (4 years ago only, still fresh). Mvg.
Thank you very much, Pariswat! I was horrified to learn that Istanbul has a lengthy and cold winter. I'm trying to imagine people all bundled up moving through that architectural rendering of endless early summer. If it's any consolation for enduring the cold, it really has been hot as hell during my time here.
Oh yes, it can get very cold in Istanbul in the winter. My second trip was for business in December and we were freezing.
I suppose that Turkish eyes manager to filter out the excess of the designs in the tiles, but looking over this thread again, as beautiful as the tiles are, they are just TOO MUCH. They now remind me of the old dark wallpaper in country hotels where all of the designs would start freaking you out in the dark when you were trying to go to sleep.
Speaking of which, I can't even imagine how somebody on drugs would react, and yet the Turkish have never been the last in line for obtaining chemical enhancements to their lives.