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".
#4 TOPKAPI PALACE
|Walking along the path to the palace|
|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;)
#5 GRAND BAZAAR
For our last night in Istanbul, we were brought to the Grand Bazaar or
|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|
|Outside the indoor bazaar are more shops|