S: Istanbul 2010
BC: Istanbul, Turkey November 20-22, 2010
FC: Created by Cathy Booth-Smith | ISTANBUL
1: Life brings simple pleasures to us every day. It is up to us to transform them into wonderful memories. | Where is Turkey?
2: Ottoman Hotel Imperial is situated on the truly premium location in town, on an elevated position, surrounded by all the major historical and cultural sights in the heart of the old town, Sultanahmet, viewing the impressive Hagia Sophia (St.Sophia, Aya Sofya) Museum.
4: Hagia Sophia Museum (top) and Roy in the park by the fountain (bottom)
6: Hagia Sophia Hagia translates to Holy, and Sophia to Wisdom. A former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. The building was a mosque from May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was then closed for four years until it re-opened as a museum on February 1, 1935. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture." Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was constructed between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. | Hagia Sophia was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having both been destroyed by rioters. It was designed by the Greek scientists Isidore of Miletus, a physicist, and Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who subsequently ordered the building converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed and many of the mosaics were plastered over. Islamic features — such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets — were added to the site while in the possession of the Ottomans. For almost 500 years it was the principal mosque of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia served as a model for many other Ottoman mosques, including the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque (a.k.a. the Blue Mosque of Istanbul.) | The dome of Hagia Sophia has spurred particular interest for many art historians, architects and engineers because of the innovative way in which the original architects envisioned the dome. The dome is supported by pendentives which had never been used prior to the building of this structure. The pendentive enables the dome to transition gracefully into the square shape of the piers below. The pendentives not only achieve a pleasing aesthetic quality, but they also restrain the lateral forces of the dome and allow the weight of the dome to flow downward. Pendentives are pictured in the diagram below, shown in yellow. A second interesting fact about the original structure of the dome was how the architects were able to place forty windows around the base of the dome. Hagia Sophia is famous for the mystical quality of light that reflects everywhere in the interior of the nave, which gives the dome the appearance of hovering above it.
8: The Sultan Ahmed Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles in its interior. All six minarets are in view. This photograph was taken at dusk from our second floor room at the Ottoman Imperial Hotel. | Blue Mosque
9: One of the six minarets and the outer courtyard of the Blue Mosque
10: The Imperial Gate Topkapi Palace One of the inscriptions at the gate proclaims: By the Grace of God, and by His approval, the foundations of this auspicious castle were laid, and its parts were solidly joined together to strengthen peace and tranquility [...] May God make eternal his empire, and exalt his residence above the most lucid stars of the firmament. | Architectural model of the Topkapi Palace as it appeared around the 17th to 18th century. Today this model is exhibited at the palace itself. | The pictures on these two pages are from the WikiMedia Commons. The copyright holder has released them into the public domain. | Topkapi Palace | Topkapi Dagger
11: Architectural model of Topkap Palace in Istanbul, showing the inner part of the complex starting with the 2nd Courtyard and the Gate of Salutation (bottom middle). This model is exhibited at the palace itself, which is now a museum.
12: The Imperial Gate is the main entrance to the Topkapi Palace complex | Sultan Mehmed II (March 30, 1432 – May 3, 1481) ordered the initial construction in 1459. The site he chose was the former Byzantine acropolis. It received the name "Topkapi" (Cannon Gate) in the 19th century, after a (now lost) Topkapi Gate and shore pavilion. Sultan Mehmed II established the basic layout of the palace. He used the highest point of the promontory for his private quarters and innermost buildings. Various buildings and pavilions surrounded the innermost core and grew down the promontory towards the shores of the Bosphorus. The whole complex was surrounded by high walls, some of which date back to the Byzantine acropolis.
14: The first courtyard inside the Imperial Gate contains mainly functional buildings including the former Imperial Mint (Darphane-i mire,) constructed in 1727 (above) and the Byzantine Church Hagia Eirene (right.)
15: After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Mehmed II, the church was enclosed inside the walls of the Topkapi palace. The Janissaries used the church as an armoury. It was also used as a warehouse for war booty. During the reign of Sultan Ahmet III (1703–1730) it was converted into a weapons museum. It was repaired by Field Marshal Ahmed Fethi Paa in 1846 and became the first Turkish museum. It was used as the Military Museum from 1908 until 1978 when it was turned over to the Turkish Ministry of Culture.  Concert hallToday, the museum serves mainly as a concert hall for classical music performances, due to its extraordinary acoustic characteristics and impressive atmosphere. Many of the concerts of the Istanbul International Music Festival have been held here every summer since 1980.
16: The Gate of Salutation (Bb-üs Selm), entrance to the Second courtyard of Topkap Palace
17: The second courtyard with the kitchens in the background. The Second Courtyard was primarily used by the sultan to dispense justice and hold audiences. This was done here also to impress visitors. Various Austrian, Venetian and French ambassadors have left accounts of what such an audience looked like. See the next page. | Second Courtyard | Upon passing the Middle Gate, (the Gate of Salutation, pictured on the left page) the visitor enters the Second Courtyard, or Divan Square, which was once a park full of peacocks and gazelles, used as a gathering place for courtiers. Only the Sultan was allowed to ride on the black pebbled walks that lead to the Third Courtyard, through the Gate of Felicity. | The courtyard was completed probably around 1465 during the reign of Mehmed II, but received its final appearance around 1525-1529 during the reign of Suleyman I. This courtyard is surrounded by the former palace hospital, bakery, Janissary quarters, stables, the imperial harem and Divan to the north and the kitchens to the south. At the end of the courtyard, the Gate of Felicity marks the entrance to the Third Courtyard. The whole area is unified by a continuous marble colonnade, creating an ensemble.
18: The Gate of Felicity is the entrance into the Inner Court (Endern), also known as the Third Courtyard
19: Sultan Selim III depicted holding an audience in front of the Gate of Felicity. (above, left)
20: Elaborate Fountain with niches on either side. Located outside the Audience Chamber, facing the Library of Sultan Ahmed III
21: The Neo-classical Endern Library also known as "Library of Sultan Ahmed III", is located directly behind the Audience Chamberin the centre of the Third Court. It was built on the foundations of the earlier Havuzlu kiosk by the royal architect Mimar Beir Aa in 1719 on orders of Ahmed III for use by officials of the royal household. The library is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture of the 18th century. The exterior of the building is faced with marble. The library has the form of a Greek cross with a domed central hall and three rectangular bays. The fourth arm of the cross consists of the porch, which can be approached by a flight of stairs on either side. The building is set on a low basement to protect the precious books of the library against moisture.
22: One of the entrances to the Imperial Divan or Council Chambers. The entrances were decorated in the rococo style, with gilded grills to admit natural light.
23: Tower of Justice | The Spoonmaker's Diamond is a 86 carat (17 g) pear-shaped diamond which is considered the pride of the Imperial Treasury's exhibitions at the TopKapi Palace Museum and its most valuable single exhibit. Set in silver, surrounded by a double row of 49 Old-mine cut diamonds (brilliants). It hangs in a glass case on the wall of the third room in Imperial Treasury section of Topkapi's "Conqueror’s Pavilion."
24: The Imperial Treasury The Imperial Treasury is a vast collection of works of art, jewelry, heirlooms of sentimental value and money belonging to the Ottoman dynasty. Since the palace became a museum, the same rooms have been used to exhibit these treasures. Most of the objects in the Imperial Treasury consisted of gifts, spoils of war, or pieces produced by palace craftsmen. The Chief Treasurer was responsible for the Imperial Treasury. The objects exhibited in the Imperial Treasury today are a representative selection of its contents, which mainly consist of jeweled objects made of gold and other precious materials. Among the many treasuries that are on exhibition in four adjoining rooms, the first room houses one the armours of Sultan Mustafa III, consisting of an iron coat of mail decorated with gold and encrusted with jewels, his gilded sword and shield and gilded stirrups. The next display shows several Qur'an covers belonging to the sultans, decorated with pearls. The ebony throne of Murad IV is inlaid with nacre and ivory. The golden Indian music box, with a gilded elephant on top, dates from the 17th century. In other cabinets are looking glasses decorated with rare gems, precious stones, emeralds and cut diamonds. The second room houses the Topkapi Dagger. The golden hilt is ornamented with three large emeralds, topped by a golden watch with an emerald lid. The golden sheath is covered with diamonds and enamel. In 1747, the Sultan Mahmud I had this dagger made for Nadir Shah of Persia, but the Shah was assassinated in connection with a revolt before the emissary had left the Ottoman Empire's boundaries, so the Sultan retained it. This dagger gained more fame as the object of the heist depicted in the film Topkapi, although The New York Times has written that the palace's greatest artistic treasures are the Ottoman miniatures of the Treasury. Only 100 of the 10,000 miniatures are on display at any one time. In the middle of the second room stands the walnut throne of Ahmed I, inlaid with nacre and tortoise shell, built by Sedefhar Mehmet Aa. Below the baldachin hangs a golden pendant with a large emerald. The next displays show the ostentatious aigrettes of the sultans and their horses, studded with diamonds, emeralds and rubies. A jade bowl, shaped like a vessel, was a present of Czar Nicholas II of Russia. The most eye-catching jewel in the third room is the Spoonmaker's Diamond, set in silver and surrounded in two ranks with 49 cut diamonds. Legend has it that this diamond was bought by a vizier in a bazaar, the owner thinking it was a worthless piece of crystal. Another, perhaps more likely history for the gem places it among the possessions of Tepedeleni Ali Pasha, confiscated by the Sultan after his execution. Among the exhibits are two large golden candleholders, each weighing 48 kg and mounted with 6,666 cut diamonds, a present of Sultan Abdülmecid I to the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca. They were brought back to Istanbul shortly before the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the loss of control over Mecca. The golden ceremonial Bayram throne, mounted with tourmalines, was made in 1585 by order of the vizier Ibrahim Pasha and presented to Sultan Murad III. This throne would be set up in front of the Gate of Felicity on special audiences. The throne of Sultan Mahmud I is the centerpiece of the fourth room. This golden throne in Indian style, decorated with pearls and emeralds, was a gift of the Persian ruler Nader Shah in the 18th century. Another exhibit shows the forearm and the hand of St. John the Baptist, set in a golden covering. Several displays show an assembly of flintlock guns, swords, spoons, all decorated with gold and jewels. Of special interest is the golden shrine that used to contain the cloak of the Prophet Mohammed.
26: View of the open-air terrace at the Konyali Lokantasi Restaurant with the Bosphorus strait in the background.
27: The Ottomans Sultans certainly seemed to have loved colour and pattern. Decoration and embellishments are found in every corner, on the walls, doors, window panes and ceilings. The furniture too is ornate and colourful. Everyday items were decorated in glass, jewels, and inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
28: Roy in the Courtyard of the Eunuchs | The Queen Mother and her attendants in her apartments | Cathy in the apartments of the Queen Mother
29: After the main entrance and before turning to the Passage of Concubines is the Courtyard of the Queen Mother who is also known as the Valide Sultan Dairesi.
30: Courtyard of the Sultan's Chief Consorts and Concubines
31: Courtyard of the Sultan's Chief Consorts and Concubines
32: Decoration and embellishments are found in every corner, on the walls, doors, window panes and ceilings. The Ottomans Sultans certainly seemed to have loved colour and pattern. The furniture too is ornate and colourful.
33: Hall of the Fountain
34: Baths of the Sultan and the Queen Mother This double bath dates from the late 16th century and consists of multiple rooms. It was redecorated in the rococo style in the middle of the 18th century. Both baths present the same design, consisting of a caldarium, a tepidarium and a frigidarium (hot, warm and cold baths.) Each room either has a dome, or the ceilings are at some point glassed in a honeycomb structure to let in the natural light. (right)
35: The marble tub with an ornamental fountain in the caldarium, and the gilded iron grill are characteristic features. The golden lattice work was to protect the bathing sultan or his mother from murder attempts while bathing.
36: The Imperial Hall, also known as the Imperial Sofa, is a domed hall in the Harem, believed to have been built in the late 16th century. It has the largest dome in the palace. The hall served as the official reception hall of the sultan as well as for the entertainment of the Harem.
37: In the hall stands the sultan's throne. Here the sultan received his confidants, guests, his mother, his first wife consorts, and his children. Entertainments, paying of homage during religious festivals, and wedding ceremonies took place here in the presence of the members of the dynasty. After the Great Harem Fire of 1666, the hall was renovated in the rococo style during the reign of Sultan Osman III.
38: Stained-glass windows and painted ceilings of the Harem section of the palace. | Ornate wooden doors with tiled walls with niches.
39: Much of the Harem is decorated in the rococo style. also referred to as "Late Baroque" is an 18th century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful. Rococo rooms were designed as total works of art with elegant and ornate furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, and tapestry complementing architecture, reliefs, and wall paintings. Rococo style took pleasure in asymmetry, a taste that was new to European style. This practice of leaving elements unbalanced for effect is called contraste. Here is a great example, where the two doors have different colour schemes and designs.
40: The Courtyard of the Favourites forms the last section of the Harem and overlooks a large pool and the Boxwood Garden. The wooden apartment is decorated in the rococo style. The courtyard was expanded in the 18th century by the addition of the Interval and Favourites apartments. The apartment of the Sultan's Favourite Consort along with the Golden Road and the Mabeyn section at the ground floor also included the Hall with the Mirrors. This was the space where Abül Hamid I lived with his harem. The favourites of the sultan were conceived as the instruments of the perpetuation of the dynasty in the harem organisation. When the favourites became pregnant they assumed the title and powers of the official consort of the sultan.
41: Outside view of the Twin Kiosk or Apartments of the Crown Prince. It consists of two privy chambers built in the 17th century, at different times. | The decorative tiles, reflecting the high quality craftsmanship of the Iznik tile industry of the 17th century,
42: Stained-glass windows decorate the Harem section of the Palace.
45: This is the small but very colourful Privy Chamber of Ahmed III with walls painted with panels of floral designs and bowls of fruit. It also features a fireplace decorated with intricate tiles. This room is also known as the Fruit Room and was probably used for dining purposes.
47: Twin Kiosk / Apartments of the Crown Prince Ceiling Mosaic
48: The Golden Road (Altnyol) is a narrow passage that forms the axis of the Harem, dating from the 15th century. It extends between the Courtyard of the Harem Eunuch and the Privy Chamber. The sultan used this passage to pass to the Harem, the Privy Chamber and the Sofa-i Hümyn, the Imperial terrace.
49: The Courtyard of the Queen Mother, the Courtyard of the Chief Consort of the Sultan, the apartments of the Princes, and the apartments of the Sultan open to this passage. The walls are painted a plain white colour. It is believed that the attribute "golden" is due to the sultan's throwing of golden coins to be picked up by the concubines at festive days, although this is disputed by some scholars.
50: To the left is an example mother-of-pearl or tortoise-shell used to decorate cupboards, doors, and window panels | One of the large mirrors in the Harem main entrance. These mirrors date from the 18th century. On the next page is a closeup of the ornate top of the mirror that is shown below:
52: Topkapi Sarayi or Palace Roy and Cathy in the Imperial Hall, also known as the Imperial Sofa, in the Throne Room within the Hall of Diversions