Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Topkapi Palace, Part One: Would This Environment Keep You Conquering?

A passing ship on the Bosporus.
The road down to the shore is off limits to visitors.
I wonder what's down there
besides a boring parking lot
wasting prime real estate!
Locals enjoying a beautiful spot
in the First Courtyard
A gorgeous promenade in the First Courtyard.
It's easy to see everyone and everything happening
in the First Courtyard of Topkapi Palace,
which had to make it the place to
"see and be seen"
back in the days of the Ottomans.
No need to restrain your inner five-year-old.
Hop away from stone-to-stone.
Looking across the Courtyard.
Notice the majestic trees.
During the Kurban Bayram holiday last year, I decided to stay in Istanbul and play tourist for a day at Topkapi Palace. A friend had walked me through it one afternoon, but it was such a cursory walk, I realized then to do Topkapi properly, I would have to devote an entire day.

When I really want to explore something, I like to go by myself, because I don't want to have to worry about keeping another person happy while I read every sign and listen to every last audio guide explanation about a sight.

I went the day before to buy my ticket so that I would not have to wait in the discouraging long line that forms to purchase a ticket. Yea! I was first in line the next morning to enter the palace. My strategy was to immediately go get the audio guide and then enter the Haram because I wanted to see it before it swarmed with people.

An alternative strategy might be to go immediately to see the Treasury exhibits because I noticed they form maddeningly long lines during the day and more people go to those because it doesn't require an extra expense to see (the Haram does).
A water fountain in
Ottoman Baroque style.
Topkapi is situated at the corner of the Golden Horn, the Bosporus, with the Marmara Sea within viewing distance. There could not be a finer location in all of Istanbul. Even if one doesn't go into the Palace to view it, it is possible to enjoy the first courtyard outside of the Palace at no cost. It's the perfect place for a leisurely stroll where one can enjoy some of the best people-watching and nature-watching in the city.
Let's pause in awe.

An ongoing, constant conversation among everyone in Istanbul is what contributed to the decline of the Ottoman Empire.  But I ask you, could you keep up the will to go out and conquer other lands if you lived in this place? Frankly, I'd be too relaxed.  It's that contemplative and beautiful.
You might enjoy my other two posts on Topkapi Palace:
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