Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Touring Turkey - The Ottomans are Ballers: Topkapi Palace

I don't remember much about my world history classes from middle and high school. Even after this trip to Turkey, I am still confused by who was sultan when and how long they reigned. What I can remember from this trip is that the Ottomans were no joke. At its height, their kingdom stretched from as far as Budapest to the north, Azerbijan to the east, Algiers in the southwest/North Africa and parts of the Sudan at its southern tip. Yep, they ran things, so I don't think I should have been all that surprised by the the fact that Topkapi Palace, the primary residence of the sultan and his court, was still in such amazing shape and that it still held so many treasures.

Even the front gate shows us that this place is grand.

The Gate of Salutation

Closeup of the Gate of Salutation

There are many beautiful rooms to see that give you a glimpse of what life was like in the royal Ottoman court.

With its series of separate courtyards in Topkapi Palace, there is enough that I could probably write a book about this place. However, the one thing that I could not shake was the fact that the Ottomans really liked them some jewels. Folks, the Ottoman were ballers. Maybe there is an Ottoman Turkish word for "bling"? All I can say is that they really liked shiny things: armor with diamonds (was the shininess to distract the enemy?), swords with rubies, gold everywhere... I can't be mad at them. I like my shiny stuff, too.

There's gold on the ceilings.

Their blankets even had gold. Here's one of the Sultan's blankets.

Close-up of the blanket
Do you see the gold flowers woven into the fabric?

The water fountains are gold.
In front of the Sultan's Library

There's so much more than this though. Unfortunately I couldn't take pics of many of the notable things that I would love to show you all, so I had to go to other sources.

Topkapi Dagger

This was supposed to be a gift from Sultan Mahmud I to the Nadir, the Shah of Iran at that time. Unfortunately, the shah got killed while the Ottomans were making their way there to drop off his present. Oops! :( I think the Ottoman are great gift givers. What do you think? ;) This is also the prize to be stolen in a 1960's heist movie appropriately titled Topkapi.

Husband J and I went into yet another room in the former Treasury area, and I got a little excited when I saw something else I wouldn't mind admiring all day.

The Kasicki Diamond aka the Spoonmaker Diamond

Husband J, are you reading? It's only 86 carats. You can start saving up for our 50th Anniversary. Just kidding everyone (that includes you, Husband J)! :) This is the fourth largest diamond in the world. They have one person who just stands right in front of it all day. The origins of the diamond range from stories that a fisherman thought it was a beautiful, shiny rock and traded it to a spoonmaker in exchange for three wooden spoons (hence the Spoonmaker moniker) to the possibility that it was Napoleon's mother's diamond; and she sent it to the Ottoman's as a bribe to free her captured lover. Who knows?! This diamond is purrrty. I feel like there are many engagement rings that look like this now. The Ottomans were trendsetters. :)

If you come to Topkapi Palace make sure to see the Room of the Relics of Prophet, which have a footprint and tooth of the Prophet Muhammed and one of his handwritten letters. There are no pictures allowed there unfortunately. We also didn't get a chance to see the Harem area (where the sultan kept his "lady friends") because we went over there too late. It closes at 4pm, a few hours before the rest of the palace. If you come in the afternoon, go there first, and don't make our mistake.

Is there anything here that you'd want for your home? I'm in need of some new bedding, so maybe some gold ones will be in my future. :)


Hannah {Culture Connoisseur} said...

The Ottomans WERE ballers! Ottomans and Persians. They just meant business and owned the world. I love history! Thanks for sharing.

e.louise said...

I have loved following your Turkey recaps. The architecture is so beautiful!!

BigAppleNosh said...

Whoa that diamond is ginormous!!

Diana said...

You should really write a travel guide to Turkey. You have amazing stories and photos. Love that blanket and that diamond...wow! And I was just looking back at your other ones I missed, Fresh Pom and nuts...and more! Looks like it was a wonderful experience. PS I was laughing on the inside on how many times nuts was said in that post! :) Thanks for the lovely words on our anniversary

Hannah {Culture Connoisseur} said...

Hey lady! I awarded you the Stylish Blogger award. Check out my post today to claim it. :)


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