The Ottoman Empire, spanning 623 years, is one of the longest reigning empires in history. The Sultans, or kings, lived at the Topkapi Palace for about 400 of the 623 years. The Ottoman Empire ended in 1921, and in 1924 the Palace was turned into a museum. Thank goodness it is now a museum for I would have missed one of THE most amazing sensory experiences of my life! It wasn’t the Palace itself, though, that blew me away. It was what I saw in the Imperial Treasury which housed works of art, jewelry, and heirlooms that made me gasp for air. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed to be taken, which made me completely sad as I would have liked to see proof from time to time that what I saw was, in fact, real. It is rare to use the words “superfluous beauty,” but here it applies greatly. Can you imagine the largest, greenest, most near perfect quality of emeralds (3 of them, in fact) embedded on the Topkapi Dagger, for example? What about two candle holders mounted with 6,666 diamonds? An 82 carat diamond, for example, was found on the streets which the owner sold for 3 spoons thinking that it was worthless since he found it uncut and rough. Seeing all this, without proof of pictures, seems unreal even to myself as I look back.
The Imperial Harem was a large section at the Palace with more than 400 rooms. The word Harem means “forbidden” in Arabic, as entrance to the Harem was strictly forbidden to all except for the sultan and a few other key members. Details of Harem life and what really went on are sketchy as a result of its secluded nature. But when you hear of concubines, mistresses, and young girls rising to ranks based on skilled sexual practices, you get the idea!
Some pictures to share now. Sorry, boys. No naked pictures of the Harem girls here!
The Gate of Salutation
hand painted Iznik tiles, marble…
the life of the Harem girl wasn’t too shabby!