Inside Topkapi Palace, Continued

Your next visit would be the Harem at Topkapi Palace, which you enter through the second courtyard. You will have to buy a ticket to enter the Harem. Limited numbers of visitors are allowed to enter at a time. You have to pass through the Divan Odasi to reach the Harem. This area served as a transition between the public and the private parts of the Topkapi Palace. The harems of the Turkish rulers were cloaked in mystery and intrigue. The Sultan's family members as well as his several concubines and consorts were housed here. Black eunuchs were employed to guard the inmates. The inhabitants of the harem were shut off from the outside world and no one from outside was allowed to enter. Today, only a part of the Harem is open to visitors. You will mainly see a labyrinth of rooms and corridors. The architecture here is based primarily on the theme of sexuality.

You next proceed to the museum. The entrance is the Orta Kopi or Babusselam that is the central gate. At one time executions were carried out inside this gate and the heads exhibited on blocks of stone. You may find it difficult to imagine this today as you pass through the gate. The museum houses some of the original kitchen equipment from the Topkapi Palace, and the largest collection of porcelain and glassware in the world.

From here, you enter the third courtyard through the Gate of Felicity. This brings you to the most private part of the palace to which, only the Sultan and his closest associates were allowed entry. The gate was fiercely guarded by white eunuchs. Royal ceremonies like coronations were held at this gate. Once you enter, you get to see the audience chamber where foreign ambassadors were received and the Grand Vizier came to present his resolutions. You must proceed to see the treasury, which exhibits priceless objects like jeweled thrones, ornate daggers and baskets of emeralds. In the building on the opposite side, you will find the finest collection of miniatures. Passing on from there you will find many fine pavilions built by various Sultans. The pavilion of Sultan Abdulmecit is now a restaurant, which may be a welcome sight to hungry tourists.
Topkapi Palace  |  History  |  Inside Topkapi Palace  |  Inside Topkapi Palace  |  Inside Topkapi Palace, Continued