Friday, 18 May 2012

Topkapı Sarayı (Palace), Istanbul, Turkey

The Topkapı Palace in Istanbul was home to the various Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years of the 624 years that they ruled over the Ottoman Empire.  Construction of the Palace began in 1459 under the rule of Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople.  What can be seen today is only a fraction of what was once there.  Following the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, a Government Decree in 1924 transformed the Palace into an Imperial Museum.

Unfortunately due to enormous queues for this popular attraction and a short time in Istanbul on this trip, we did not get beyond the front gates, but even still the photos give you a feel for what lies beyond.

The Bab-üs-Selam or Orta Kapı (The Gate of Salutation) is the entrance to the second courtyard of the Palace, entry past this point is by ticket only.  It is not know when this was constructed as the architecture of the towers has Byzantine influences rather than Ottoman.  Looking at the design of the gate and towers I was half expecting to see Knights on horseback.

This first courtyard that we are walking around was the outer park area and was also known as the Court of the Janissaries or Parade Court.  Court Officials and Janissaries would line the path leading up to The Gate of Salutation to greet guests.

All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

Here you can see the Byzantine Church of Hagia Eirene the oldest Byzantine church in Istanbul.  The original structure dedicated in 360 was the Constantinople's cathedral until the Aya Sofya was built and dedicated in 536.  This is one of the few churches in Istanbul which was never converted to a mosque and is now only used as a venue for concerts and arts events.

Again here you get a glimpse of the Sea of Marmara and the 'New Istanbul' as it is referred to, with its busy port.

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