Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Turkey Travelogue: Topkapı Palace

In France, it was Versailles. Italy has the Vatican. If I sat here and thought about it long enough, I'm sure I could come up with plenty of other examples... But the point is that these are the places that have become so overrun with tourists that it's hard to see the scenery past all the people.

The Vatican was the worst -- after standing in a long, hot, sticky line, and tramping through all kinds of crowded halls and passages, there I was -- finally! -- standing in the Sistine Chapel, under that beautiful work of art, and all I could think was "ohmygod, get me out of this sardine can!"

Versailles comes in a close second -- or perhaps it isn't quite that bad, but only suffers from the contrast provided by my memory of visiting that beautiful palace with my parents when I was in high school, when, for a few moments, we were actually all alone in the Hall of Mirrors. Back in the day. But times have changed -- the last time I was there, it was wall-to-wall people every step of the way.

Anyway, Topkapı, quite the gorgeous palace, was the same way when we visited. I doubt it's always that crowded, the day we were there was a national holiday in Turkey and admission to all the big attractions was free to everyone. So it was really crowded. Which is a long way around to saying that I didn't get very many photos of the palace. I got a lot of photos of people, which I hope to share at some point, but the pickings are slim when it comes to the scenery.

Topkapı was built by Mehmet II between 1459 and 1465, and was the official residence of sultans until 1853. It's been a museum since 1924. This first picture is the Imperial Hall.

This is a bathroom inside the Harem.

The palace area is huge and includes many buildings and pavilions. At one point I walked out onto a courtyard and found this fresco on the wall.

The palace is located on the Golden Horn and has spectacular views of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus.

1 comment:

Keera said...

Damn those affluent tourists! ;-) I like the pictures you did get. The harem toilet is especially fascinating. :-)