Compass Blog

Reasons not to miss Topkapi Palace in Instanbul, Turkey

Locations: Europe, Mediterranean, Turkey

Istanbul is the most famous city to visit on Turkey tours. While the city is home to a plethora of cultural, artistic and historic sights, those who overlook a chance to see Topkapi Palace will be kicking themselves once they leave. Intriguing Palace History: Topkapi's history has expertly been preserved by making much of the palace into a museum. The castle, in addition to being a large visual point for the city, was also the setting for many of Istanbul's most intriguing historic events. The castle, which was called a castle of "irregular, asymmetric, non-axial, and un-monumental proportions," was built by Sultan Mehmed, a 23-year-old Ottoman who conquered the city in 1459. At the time, Istanbul was a small, poor city, from which it grew to become a legendary power of yore. Stories of Romance, Humility & Honour: As the residence of the Ottoman Sultans for more than 400 years, the castle has seen its share of romance, humility and humor. It was the deathbed of Selim the Sot, who drowned in one of the castle's bath tubs after indulging in too much champagne. It was also the home of Roxelana, the legendary queen who rose from being the king's love-slave to his free wife. A Jeweled Interior: While learning the many fine details of the palace's past inhabitants, you must also be sure to lend time to simply look at Topkapi's interior. The iznik tiles that cover much of the palace are famous for their intricate and vivid designs, and only further exude the castle's unique flare and multicultural influences. The embellishments continue in many arches, doorways and windows, which often feature gleaming gold accents. With so many rooms to visit,  be sure to see the Helvahane, the confectionery room that was used to make all of the sweets for the royal family and palace residents. Many of the pots, pans and cooking tools that were used during the sultan's 400 years of residence are still there. To examine the plethora of regal bling, you can visit the Imperial Treasury, where rubies, emeralds, diamonds, pearls and gold shine from every corner.

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