Tuesday, December 07, 2010

day II part 2: cannon palace and shopping

Topkapı Palace or Topkapi Sarayı was our next destination after having lunch. It is also within the compound of Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. According to Eric, Topkapı means "Cannon Palace".


Walking along the path to the palace
After getting our entrance tickets, we walked along a path to the main palace gate. Along the way, there are many beautiful buildings too, like Church of Hagia Eirene, that is now used as a music hall.

Me likes the fairytale-like front part castle
This is called Gate of Salutation. In the middle, you can see narrow slits on the walls. These were meant for archers to place their bows and arrows, as defence.

Miniature scale model of the palace
The land on which the palace stands is enormous. It is divided into different sections, or courtyards. You have the kitchen in one courtyard, and then Tower of Justice, Imperial Treasury (the one with 2 domes), etc. I like the part they called Harem, which was where all the ladies of the palace were kept, so they will be away from other men. I later found out Harem also means, "Forbidden".

Enderûn Library, or Library of Sultan Ahmed III....I love the marble walls
We got lost a little within the courtyards because the place is too large. Plus, it was actually raining halfway so we did not get to view all the buildings. I realized now we missed out many different parts of the palace.

Tiles decor along corridors
The palace also serves as a museum and there were many many exhibitions. They showed many jewelries, costumes and belongings of Ottoman Emperors. I was never much into museums but I like paintings very much. That was the only exhibition section I enjoyed.

Porch outside Audience Hall or Arz Odasi
Marble is very predominant in the architecture. There is the Sea of Marmara that borders Turkey. It is called Marmara for a reason. Yes, that was where Turkish got their marble from. 

Autumn leaves on the ground
If you are interested in history, this is a must-go. They tell you a lot about lives of the Ottoman Empire. It was a very strong and powerful kingdom. Back then Ottoman conquered not only Asia, but Europe and also North Africa for centuries.

Hagia Sophia as we left the palace
The sky was so gloomy because it stopped raining. Outside the courtyards, you will be able to see Sultan Ahmet fountain, also reallly beautiful.

Belly-dancing costumes on sale outside in the shops
Someone asked me to buy belly-dancing costumes for her but sorry lar, I got not enough money. Keke. I guess I have to make one out of curtains;)


For our last night in Istanbul, we were brought to the Grand Bazaar or KapalıÇarşı (which means Covered Market). It is the largest indoor market in Turkey.

Entrance to humongous indoor bazaar 
Honestly, the place is like a labyrinth. Even Eric said he lost his mother several times there as a child. It has so many twists and turns. We were advised to stick to the main path, but of course the side roads are where things are cheaper.

Colourful ceramics everywhere
I think basically, every shop in the bazaar sells the same things. Most popular are ceramics, pashminas, silver jewelries and accessories, Turkish cup sets, antiques, lamps, and a few shops selling clothes (mainly winter coats). I also saw one cafe there, but kinda expensive.

Yours Truly trying not to get lost
You are expected to negotiate here. Try to cut off 40 - 60% of the starting prices. But the sellers will really try to persuade but when you leave, they straight away cut down the price. I really wonder if the sellers can survive here because they were all selling the same things. And as you go far deeper into the roads (albeit more confusing and risky), the prices get lower.

Beautiful reasonably priced pashminas
My advice? Don't buy anything here. Istanbul is a very expensive city to live in so everything is so much more overpriced here. I later learned as we traveled from Istanbul to Ankara, the things get cheaper and cheaper. You can get the same things in Grand Bazaar much cheaper in Canakkale, Cappadocia or Izmir.

Having pomegranate juice for refreshment
A must-try is the fresh orange or pomegranate juice. The man uses fresh oranges or pomegranates, slices them into halves and uses this antique vintage juice squeezer to produce fresh juice. For our pomegranate juice, I think he used like 3 big pomegranate fruits. They don't add water or sugar, just genuine pomegranate juice. But it costs like 4 TL (Turkish Lira) which is equivalent to like RM8.

Outside the indoor bazaar are more shops
Nevertheless, I did buy some souvenirs here. Some Turkish design small purses, and a snow globe because the boy trying to persuade me to buy talks really well. Keke. What can I say? Turkish men are too charming.

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