Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fabulous Ottoman Palaces

The Gate of Salutation (Bâb-üs Selâm), entranc...Image via Wikipedia
Topkapi Palace Entrance

Istanbul has palaces of many styles, so you will probably find one to suit your taste, but maybe not your budget. There are two important ones to visit, the others are optional if you have the time.
Topkapi Palace "Cannon Gate Palace", is the original Istanbul home of the Ottoman Sultans. Like many of Europe's great palaces, it was built in stages, beginning in 1459 and added to by successive sultans. Its located on the site of the former acropolis of Byzantium, at the highest point on the shoreline. The area is known as Sarayburnu or Seraglio Point.

Topkapi was built with a Harem in the old-school castle/fortress style. The late Ottomans decided they wanted a more modern place to entertain. So in 1843 Sultan Abdulmecid began the construction of Dolmabahçe Palace. Topkapi became a museum in 1924.

Topkapi Palace Interior

East often meets west in Istanbul architecture. While Topkapi is covered with tiles and traditional Ottoman motifs, the Dolmabahçe Palace embraces a completely different design idea, European Orientalism. Crystal and gold-leaf are everywhere. The palace is home to the world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier and the grand staircase features Baccarat banisters. Traditional Ottoman designs are created using opulent materials. Floors are laid in intricate geometric patterns, for example. There's still a Harem, but the whole effect evokes more French Versailles than Ottoman Istanbul.

Dolmabahçe Palace

Smaller Palaces exist all over the city and are worth visiting if you have the chance. Beylerbeyi is my favorite. Its done in a more intimate scale, for a Rockefeller budget perhaps.
Nothing here really inspired my writing for Sybil. Except maybe the harem, but that isn't a completely Ottoman idea. 12th century Byzantines liked to separate the men from the women too and they certainly kept mistresses. It wasn't so fun being a princess back then.
However, if you want to pretend it is fun and live like one for a while, try staying at the Ciragan Palace Hotel.
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Missed Periods said...

The interior is so stunning.

Cruella Collett said...

It's beautiful, but from the outside it looks really different from what I imagined an Istabullian palace (it looks much more European than I'd have imagined). The inside looks more like I expected. Both sides are stunning, of course :)

LTM said...

Gorgeous! I love the first one, but even the third is beautiful. More W. European... very inspirational~ :o)

Carolyn Abiad said...

The first two are pictures are of Topkapi Palace. The third is of Dolmabahçe Palace. I suppose I should have labeled that. Edit!


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