Wednesday, 25 June 2008

FuFu World Tour

7th - 22nd May 2007
Istanbul, Day 3 - Part Two

So Necla had prepared the breakfast before 9am. Main dish was Kuzu guvec, beef stew with onions, garlics, potatoes, tomatoes and eggs eaten together with bread, ham, white cheese, and olive bean.

A very healthy breakfast.

We quickly left the house right after filling our stomachs. We took train to town and exchanged some money from the money changer before started our journey of the day.

50,000 Yen (US$ 500) to 551 Turkish Lira.

We then walked to Topkapi Sarayi (Topkapi Palace), one of the most attractive palace museums in the world. Topkapi was the first Ottoman palace to be built (1466-1478) in the newly conquered capital of the Empire by Mehmet II.

Garden in front of the palace.

Topkapi Sarayi (Topkapi Palace), the main entrance.

There were between 8-10 thousand people living in the palace, mostly being the Janissaries when Topkapi was served as the residence of Ottoman sultans for about 400 years. It was then turned into a museum in 1924. The most attractive exhibition halls of the palace are treasury, Islamic holly relics, costumes of the sultans, divan, harem, kitchens, Chinese porcelains and several kiosks.

Babussaade (Gate of Felicity).

Gate of Felicity, also known as the White Gate of the Eunuchs is the entrance to the sultan`s private domains or the Third court which houses the costume gallery, the Treasury Gallery and the Islamic Holy Relics Rooms that all are must to see.

The miniature of Topkapi Palace.

The world`s fifth largest diamond, Spoonmaker`s Diamond is on displays in the Treasury Gallery and other various objects that richly decorated with precious gems and gold. The Sacred Safekeeping Rooms holds the holy relics of Prophet Mohammed. These room were richly decorated Iznik tiled rooms. Because these are holy relics of the revered Prophet Mohammed, no photographs were allowed in these rooms.

The courtyard of the Treasury Gallery.

Then we entered the second court where the palace kitchens and harems were situated. In the palace kitchen is the porcelian gallery. The glassware and silverware galleries are just next door.

Porcelian gallery in the Palace kitchen.

FuFu and Necla, posing in front of Marble Terrace.

This palace boasts one of the most beautiful views of Istanbul, incorporating the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn, Galata and Taksim, the two shores and the sea of Marmara. There are appealing eating and resting facilities for visitors on the palace grounds with a great view.

View of Galata Tower and Suleymanite Mosque from Marble Terrace.

The terrace is a nice place to linger around with wonderful views of the city. The circumcision room, which we cannot enter, is beautifully tiled on the outer walls.

Necla standing in front of the Circumcision room.

"Let`s proceed to Harem." said the tour guide. And Necla added that Harem should not be missed out. Thus we left the terrace and headed to the Harem.

Tower of the Harem.

The word meaning of Harem is private, not open to all. Be in the palace or a family of the common people, harem was the private living quarters of any Muslim family. It is roughly divided into four sections. The first section is where hundreds of eunuchs headed by the Palace eunuch lived. These were responsible for the security of the harem.

The Eunuchs courtyard.

Different view of the Harem.

The second section belonged to the concubines. Here the girls who were selected at a young age would be educated. Because they had the chance of becoming the mother sultan in the future, the most beautiful and talented among the girls would be specially educated and presented to the sultan. The third section belonged to the mother sultan who lived between the private quarters of the sultan and among the concubines. She was the most powerful woman in the harem. The fourth section consisted of kiosks belonging to the Sultan and the hamam (baths) and joined with the marble Hall.

Courtyard of the Mother Sultan. Picture taken in front of the big mirror in the corridor.

Private chamber of Murad III.

Hamam, separates the section of the harem belonging to the sultan from the section just for the women. These baths were built in nearly 500 years ago. They are the double baths for the sole use of the Sultan, the Mother Sultan and treasury keepers. They have the typical features of a Roman bath, cool room or the resting room, warm room and the enclosed cubicle. This double bath used to be heated by a single boiler room. The bath complex demonstrates the importance of hygience. Within the bath complex there is also a toilet.

Hamam (Baths).

The Imperial Hall.

This is the centre of the Selamik (reserved for men only), the Imperial Hall. A location within the whole of the palace where women of the dynasty and concubines abound. In the harem, the enthroning ceremonies, festivities and banquets used to take place here. I could call this place the private stage for the dynasty. Again, the ceiling and wall were gorgeously tiled. Look up or you will miss it.

The tiles on the hall.

The ceiling.

Both of us didnt notice that we had spent nearly four hours in the palace. Because there were too many to see. Thus, we really took our time to see and enjoy each little thing. I enjoyed so much. It real deserves to be one of the most attractive palace-museums in the world, completely agree with no complain.

It was time for our late lunch. So we just walked to Eminonu. There are so many stalls selling balik ekmek (fish sandwich), a grilled fish fillet inserted in the half loaf of bread along with a scoop of salata (lettuce, onions and tomatoes), served with lemon juice and salt.

Fish. Salata.

Sitting on the low chairs, enjoying our balik ekmek.

Eminonu Yeni Camii (Eminonu New Mosque).

Later, we crossed the road and visited Eminonu New Mosque. Its interior is incredibly impressive. This was like another excellent mosque for me after the Blue Mosque. This mosque is filled with pigeons outside and you can buy plate of wheats to feed them.

Room for the female prayer. Mimbar.

Great view of the mosque.

At the entrance of the mosque.

FuFu and Necla were feeding the pigeons.

An old man hard sell Turkey`s flag to me.

After that, we took taxi to Taksim.

Taksim Square.

Taksim is a main transportation hub and a popular destination for both tourists and the native population of Istanbul. Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), a long pedestrian shopping street, ends at this square, and a nostalgic tram runs from the square along the avenue, which is the world`s second-oldest subway line after London`s Underground.

Beginning of the street.

Surrounding Taksim Square are numerous travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, pubs, and international fast food chains such as Pizza Hut, McDonald`s and Burger King. It is also home to some of Istanbul`s grandest hotels including the InterContinental, the Ritz-Carlton and The Marmara Hotel.

The nostalgic tram car runs from the square along the avenue.

The long pedestrian shopping street.

The old tramcars re-entered into service, which shuttle up and down this fascinating street, and otherwise the street is entirely pedestrianised. There are old embassy buildings, Galatasaray High School, the colourful ambience of Balik Pazari (Fish Bazaar) as well as souvenir shops and restaurants in Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage).

Cicek Pasaji where you can get nice made in Turkey stuff.

Turkish souvenir.

Also on this street is the oldest church in the area, St Mary`s Draperis dating back to 1789, and the Franciscan Church of St Antoine, demolished and then rebuilt in 1913.

St. Mary`s Draperis. The interior.

Beautifully made glass stained window of the church.

Franciscan Church of St Antoine. The interior.

One of the most famous chocolate in Taksim, Beyoglu cikolatacisi.

Lokum, Turkish delights.

Various flavour of Lokums.

Dried fruits. Lokum.

We then turned back from the end of the street. I told Necla i would like to try dondurma, turkish ice cream. It is hard to melt and with a consistency like taffy, it is unique to me. We both had one the beaten ice cream of Sohret Kahramanmaras. The guy was fooling me at first and only gave me after couple of minutes. Nonetheless, it was fun. And Necla took number of pictures how he teasing me. Okay, I will let the pictures do the talking.

Come come come, turkish ice cream.

At last, i got my ice cream.

We went back home very late. Lucky, dinner was cooked and on the table once we reached home! What a nice service provided by Necla`s mother.

Dolma and Tavuk Corbasi.

Dinner time. With yogurt and the watermelon left yesterday.

Turkish cuisine is famous for its stuffed vegetables, Dolma, which come in two main varieties. The one we had is the minced meat stuffing with rice, cheese, onions, and tomatoes. The other one is Tavuk Corbasi, cooked with tomatoes, beans and chicken. They are eaten hot or cold, often with yogurt. After shower, both of Necla and me went to bed and rest for the next day.