Embark on a journey following the legacy of Istanbul's famous ruler and conqueror, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and visit ancient treasures of Istanbul as you learn more about the its history.
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Following the 1453 conquest of Istanbul, the Ottomans under Sultan Mehmet II built Topkapi Palace to be the sultan’s official home. The structure was built around four central courtyards. With each succeeding sultan, the complex became larger and more lavish. The Tiled Pavilion, oldest and built by Mehmet II himself, is decorated with turquoise tiles in the Seljuk style. The best Iznik tiles decorate the interior of the 400 plus-room Harem; the Harem exudes sexuality despite the austere lines of Islamic architecture (or maybe this itself was by design)… Certainly, visiting this part of the palace is a must.
The appeal of the fourth courtyard is strong as well; it features breathtaking vistas of the Marmara and Bosphorus from terraced gardens, flowing sinuously in and out and around pavilions and fountains.
Though much of the complex has been destroyed by war or demolished over the centuries, taking a tour of all three courtyards will give you an exquisite sense of palace life during the Empire’s height.
Other highlights include the Baghdad Pavilion, Revan Pavilion, Sofa Pavilion and Audience Chamber. At the Relics Chamber, you will be face to face with the stuff legends are made of: a dagger inlaid with rubies and diamonds, a throne covered with jewels, a Spoonmaker’s Diamond, and tributes to Mecca, made of pure gold.
Gülhane Park, popular with picnickers, occupies the slopes just below the palace towards the seashore. Of particular interest is the Byzantine obelisk, a Gothic Column (courtesy of Claudius II), still standing there.