Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Friday - Last Day in Istanbul

Friday was our last day in Istanbul. For this day we had the Topkapi Palace planned for the morning (after our Starbucks coffee (best of a bad lot) of course) and the Aya Sophia in the afternoon. Then dinner (rather disappointing for both of us unfortunately) and a ferry crossing from European to Asian side of Istanbul and back again to get some sunset photos.

It took us about three hours (or maybe more) to around the Topkapi Palace though we did spend over an hour in the Harem... totally worth buying a separate ticket to go in here though you did need a guide book that at least explains the politics of the time and the roles of the women.

Entrance Gate to Topkapi Palace

The wonderful entrance gate to the Palace.

Courtyard of the Wives & Concubines

The less than spacious or pleasant courtyard for the concubines and 2nd, 3rd and 4th wives. While it may not be surprising that the Mother Sultan was one of the most powerful women in the empire did you know that she effectively controlled his access to the concubines and his wives? He would have had to walk through her apartments (literally) to get to this courtyard and their apartments?

Imperial Hall Throne

This is the Imperial Throne room where the Sultan received important guests. The upper balcony is for the mother sultan, 1st wife and favourites.

Courtyard of the Favourites

This is the courtyard for the 1st wife and favourites (having a son automatically made you a favourite I believe but also involved you in a serious game of policitcal manoueverings as in the Ottoman empire the eldest son didn't necessarily become sultan... it was the women who were responsible for getting their son in to this position)

While the rest of the palace was lovely I have to admit that it was nowhere near as interesting as the harem. Having said that I wouldn't mind having this room as my own personal library :)

Library of Ahmet III

After lunch it was off to the Hagia Sophia with us. This amazing structure is amazing when you look at the size of it, consider it's history and then think about when it was built! 360AD!!! Apparently the central dome as collapsed a number of times but seems to be doing okay now. Originally a basilica it became a mosque the day that the Ottomans captured Istanbul and then a museum in 1935. Getting over the engineering feat that is this building the mixture of Christian and Islamic art/writing in this place is amazing.
Nave Domes

The Sultan's Loge


I love the big leather discs (12 feet diameter) with Islamic scripture on them and then fresco of the Mary and Jesus on the dome!

Sleeping Cat

And it seems that cats really do crop up everywhere here! This little guy was snoozing away in the heat of the floor lamp! Brilliant stuff :)

In the evening we had some dinner and then headed off on the ferry... a lovely way to spend our last evening!
Istanbul Sunset

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