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Topkapi Palace
Sunday, June 23
We awoke to a picture-perfect day of weather in Istanbul. Excellent news this was, because our plan for the day involved lots of walking and seeing several of Istanbul's most famous attractions.
Istanbul Morning
Before heading off, we availed ourselves of the excellent and extensive continental breakfast offered by the Hotel Amira. This wasn't your muffins and cereal plain-jane sort of continental breakfast: lots of fresh fruit, deli meats, various yoghurts... you name it, they seemed to have it.
Amira Breakfast
Both the hotel and the attractions we planned to visit were in a specific section of the city known as "Old Istanbul". As a result, everything we had planned for the day was actually quite close to the hotel - nothing we planned to visit was more than one kilometer distant from it.
Hotel Amira foyer
Been to one
Ocean traffic-jam
The first attraction on the agenda was quite large - the Topkapi Palace - the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the time they conquered Constantinople from the Roman Empire up until the early 1920s, when the Ottoman Empire finally was dissolved.

Even the walk to the palace was extremely scenic - past the domes and minarets of the famous Blue Mosque and the even more famous Hagia Sofia. We passed through the Palace's Imperial Gate right at 9am.
Istanbul Morning
Nearby Blue Mosque
Bab-I Hüayun street
The Hagia Sofia
Demonstrating shift
Demonstrating shift
Hagia Sofia
Hanne and Daniel
We were still far away from the heart of the palace, even though we passed through the gate. It is a sprawling place, with four huge courtyards and many subsidiary buildings, apart from the main palace complex.
Fountain of Ahmed III
The Imperial Gate
First Courtyard
After traversing across the garden-like expanse of the first courtyard, we reached the strangely castle-like second gate, known as the Gate of Salutation. Here we decided to enlist the services of a genial local guide to bring us through the harem section of the palace.
Gate of Salutation
Tour tickets
Harem Entrance
We entered the hodge-podge of irregularly-shaped rooms (more than 400) and courtyards that comprised the harem section of the palace. Here were esconced the Sultan, his mother, his children, a staff of eunuchs, and, of course, his concubines and wives. The most notable aspect of the interior of the harem is the abundant use of brilliantly-colored tiles - in many different shapes and forms. Gold guilding and elaborate roof eaves were two other notable treatments I noticed.

Note: You'll notice that after the first picture in the Harem, all pictures are not by me. This is because all three of the camera batteries I had brought were dead. Something that has never happened to me before and which was quite frustrating, especially when in a once-in-a-lifetime beautiful place like this.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Fabulous Tilework
Courtyard of the Concubines
Courtyard of the Apts of Queen Mother
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Hall of the Ablution Fountain
Sultan's bedroom
Intricate Detail
Once complete with our tour of the harem section, we toured the Third Courtyard (also called the Inner Palace). Although this was also a garden-like green space, there were many interesting buildings crowded into this courtyard, including the audience chamber, the conqueror's pavilion, the imperial treasury, and the Enderun Library. The Conqueror's Pavilion contained several exhibits of precious stones and other items from the palace, and we spent some time touring through it (no pictures allowed).
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Andrew, Topkapi Palace
Enderun Library
Our guide
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Andrew and Jenn at Topkapi
Outside the Imperial Divan
After about three hours exploring Topkapi Palace, it was time to move on. We headed back out the Imperial Gate, and retraced our steps a short way past the Hagia Sofia, but did not start touring it just yet. We were in search of lunch.

We found a perfectly reasonable lunch spot with an open terrace right between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. We pretty much all ordered kebab-like plates of one sort or another. Simple but satisfying.

While everyone was seated around the table, I quickly jogged back to the Hotel, thinking in the back of my mind that I thought that I had seen an extra camera battery in my luggage. I was very relieved to find that that was actually the case - I had indeed brought one more battery, and furthermore, this one had three-quarters of a charge. I was back in business, but would have to monitor usage carefully.

Over the course of our lunch - which spanned noon hour - we heard the speakers atop the minarets of the Blue Mosque come to life with the call to the Dhuhr prayers. This was the first time I had heard an Islamic call to prayers, and although I had heard recordings, it was interesting to hear it live. It injected a shot of middle-eastern culture to our otherwise generic lunch scene.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Hagia Sofia
Lunch
Turkish Lunch
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[ Return to "European Hopscotch" Home page | Introduction | Switzerland | Oberalpstock I | Oberalpstock II | Alpenbreak | Vorderalp | Rheinwaldhorn I | Rheinwaldhorn II | Return to Germany | Daniel's Birthday | Turkey | Topkapi Palace | Hagia Sophia | Spice Bazaar | Blue Mosque | Grand Bazaar | Süleymaniye Mosque | Galata Tower | Farewell to Turkey | Turkey to Italy | Italy | "Tour" Day | Venice | Ferrata for Sophie | Ferrata for Luke | Epilogue | GPS Data ]


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