Dubai Post 35: The Palaces of Istanbul (Last Post on Turkey)

One of the main entrances to Topkapi Palace. 
Massive courtyards lead to different areas of the palace. 

Entrance to the main part of Topkapi. 
With all the power and the money in the world of course the Ottomans and Byzantines were going to build lavish palaces.  Thousands of hand painted tiles, gold painted ceilings and manicured gardens provide an extravagant touch to the multi-acre mansions. There are a number of palaces scattered throughout Istanbul.  However the two that stand out above the rest are Topkapi Palace and Dolmabache Palace.

One of the many hand painted atrium in the harem. 
The Ottoman rule was one of the greatest in world and the Topkapi Palace was the heart and crown jewel of the empire.  It was occupied for 400 years after it was completed in 1478 after three years of construction.  The entire area of the palace is enormous, you enter one gate and then one building and then you’re in a courtyard and it still keeps going on and on.  The entire palace itself is 700 meters square or twice the size of the Vatican.  During the height of the Ottoman Empire, over 5,000 people inhabited the palace!

Topkapi sits over looking the sea providing stunning views from
many areas of the palace. 

Even some of the walk ways were decorated with incredible detail. 

There are so many different rooms in the harem, it takes about an hour
to get through. 
Thousands of hand painted tiles covered the rooms. 
Due to the magnitude of the Topkapi, you could probably spend a day alone looking at everything it has to offer.  Since I was short on time, I was only able to see a few different parts but that was enough to realize how special this place was.  The armory display was obviously very interesting but it was the harem that I found to be the most beautiful.  The harem is where the Sultan and his family lives so you can imagine how well decorated it is. 

One of the Sultan bed chambers. 

Courtyard in the harem over looking city. 
I do not know how many rooms I walked into but each was uniquely decorated with thousands of hand painted tiles, beautiful atrium, stained glass windows and of course gold.  I was told that this is the must see along with the jewels, however, the line was over an hour long so I had to skip that.  Although I could not see it all, I still could understand the beauty the Ottomans put into their home.

In front of the main gates at Dolmabache. 

The main fountain when walking into the palace. 
The second palace I visited was the Dolmabache Palace which is one of the only must see sites not in the Old City.  (A suggestion would be to take the ferry by the Galata Bridge after eating a fish sandwich to the Palace.  This will save time due to traffic and also give you good views of the shoreline.  Then head to Ortakoy for a beer and Kumpir.)  Unlike the Topkapi, Dolmabache is relatively new built in the 1800’s.  Yet similar in nature, you could spend a whole day exploring.
The main building in the palace. 
Standing at the gate to the main area of the palace. 

Standing on the inside in front of the main gate at Dolmabache. 
Once again I was short on time so I only was able to venture into a few parts of the palace.  It was clear that this palace was more modern as it is based off European structures such as London’s Buckingham Palace.  Just like the Topkapi, the harem was the must see in Dolmabache.  It was just as stunning but in a simpler fashion.  Unfortunately, I could not take pictures inside the palace so you will have to go see for yourself.   These palaces are huge so budget your time wisely as you cannot leave Istanbul without seeing these two estates.

Similar to Topkapi, Dolmbache is covered many acres. 

Rose beds covered the grounds at Dolmabache. 


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