The Landmark of Istanbul: Topkapı Palace

The imperial enclave of the Ottoman emperors for four centuries. Lavishly decorated, with four courts of increasing grandeur. In the second court of the entrance to the Harem and the State Treasury, housing a weaponry display. The third court has the Imperial Treasury. Both Islamic and Christian relics, rugs, porcelain. The views from the Fourth Court over the Bosphorus are spectacular. You can also see Prophet Mohammed’s belongings. The Palace exhibits the imperial collections of the Ottoman Empire and maintains an extensive collection of books and manuscripts in its library.

About 30 sultans ruled from the Topkapı Palace for nearly four centuries during the Ottoman Empire’s 600-year reign, beginning with Mehmed II. He ordered the construction of the palace in the late 1450s, several years after conquering Constantinople (Istanbul), the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 1453. Mehmed took up residence in 1478, and after his death three years later, successive sultans renovated and expanded the palace frequently, resulting in the palace’s medley of changing Islamic, Ottoman, and European architecture styles and decoration.

The immense Topkapı Palace housed 1.000-4.000 inhabitants, including up to 300 in the harem. One of the palace’s most famous collections is that of the imperial jewels, housed in the Pavilion of the Conqueror, also in the third courtyard. The holdings include the so-called Spoonmaker’s Diamond, one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, and the emerald Topkapı Dagger, the subject of intrigue in the 1964 caper film Topkapi.Like the other parts of the museum’s collection, the jewel collection attests to the great wealth of the Ottoman Empire.

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Historical Peninsula: Lands of Sultans and Emperors: the Old Town

The Old City of Istanbul is the oldest part of Istanbul, and the location of most of its historical sights. Encircled by the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Marmara Sea; this was the land of ancient city Constaninople. Istanbul, or Byzantium as it was called then, was first settled by Greek colonists in 667 BC which is now occupied by Topkapı Palace. The peninsula was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.

Sultanahmet, walking distance to the all historical sights of Istanbul is named “Old City”.

Istanbul, being the only city in the world who have served as a capital to three empires. The old city is surrounded by historic and cultural treasures, a legacy of its time as the capital for the Eastern Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Many of Istanbul’s historical gems, mostly consisting of Byzantine and Ottoman-built are in the Old City so there is never a dull moment.

You can have a glimpse of history while enjoying comforts of modern life. Most of the sights are located at a short walking distance from Sultanahmet Square.

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Cruising on the Bosphorus: Where Europe meets Asia

Exploring two continents at once; Bosphorus sightseeing cruises will let you stand in the middle of Europe and Asia. Continue Reading

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