Yıldız Park and Çırağan Palace

Istanbul has the largest population of calico cats I've ever seen.
Istanbul has the largest population of calico cats I’ve ever seen.

I’m enjoying the lovely fall weather and getting lots of exercise. This week I logged several miles visiting some sites. The Yıldız Park and Çırağan Palaces are lovely and right on the water. They are located in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, home of one of the most important football teams of the city.

The Çırağan Palace is now a hotel, so I couldn't go in to see it. Behind the guard, is the Bosphorus.
The Çırağan Palace is now a hotel, so I couldn’t go in to see it. Behind the guard, is the Bosphorus.
The old Çırağan Palace is located right on the water. It is the last that was built and is smaller than most. It was built between 1863 and 1867
The old Çırağan Palace is located right on the water. It is the last that was built and is smaller than most. It was built between 1863 and 1867.
In 1989, the ruined palace was bought by a Japanese corporation, which restored the palace and added a modern hotel complex next to it in its garden. Today, it serves as luxury suites for the five-star Kempinski hotel along with two restaurants that cater to guests. The Palace was renovated again during the first quarter of 2007, now resembling the authentic palace with the baroque style and soft colors.
In 1989, the ruined palace was bought by a Japanese corporation, which restored the palace and added a modern hotel complex next to it in its garden. Today, it serves as luxury suites for the five-star Kempinski hotel along with two restaurants that cater to guests.
The Palace was renovated again during the first quarter of 2007, now resembling the authentic palace with the baroque style and soft colors.
Another grand entrance gate. The palace was an unlucky place. According to Wikipedia: The construction and the interior decoration of the palace continued until 1872. Sultan Abdülâziz did not live long in his magnificent palace - he was found dead inside on May 30, 1876, shortly after he was dethroned. His successor, his nephew Sultan Murad V, moved into Çırağan Palace, but reigned for only 93 days. He was deposed by his brother Abdülhamid II due to alleged mental illness and lived there under house arrest until his death on August 29, 1904.
Another grand entrance gate. The palace was an unlucky place. According to Wikipedia: The construction and the interior decoration of the palace continued until 1872. Sultan Abdülâziz did not live long in his magnificent palace – he was found dead inside on May 30, 1876, shortly after he was dethroned. His successor, his nephew Sultan Murad V, moved into Çırağan Palace, but reigned for only 93 days. He was deposed by his brother Abdülhamid II due to alleged mental illness and lived there under house arrest until his death on August 29, 1904.
One of the old gates into the Çırağan Palace.
One of the old gates into the Çırağan Palace.
The Sultan’s Suite, billed at US$15,332 per night, is ranked number 14 on World's 15 most expensive hotel suites compiled by CNN Go in 2012.
The Sultan’s Suite, billed at US$15,332 per night, is ranked number 14 on World’s 15 most expensive hotel suites compiled by CNN Go in 2012.
A beautiful marble bridge connects the Çırağan Palace on the Bosphorus to the Yıldız Palace on the hill behind and now located in a park. A very high garden wall protects the palace from the outer world.
A beautiful marble bridge connects the Çırağan Palace on the Bosphorus to the Yıldız Palace on the hill behind and now located in a park. A very high garden wall protects the palace from the outer world.
It is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul. Yıldız Park is a steep hillside, so it is roughly terraced and the lower retaining wall is as street level, near the Bosphorus. The photos on the retaining wall depict the life of Ataturk.
It is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul. Yıldız Park is a steep hillside, so it is roughly terraced and the lower retaining wall is at street level, near the Bosphorus. The photos on the retaining wall depict the life of Ataturk.
The park is very steep, but the views are awesome.
The park is very steep, but the views are awesome.
Always construction!
Always construction!
According to Wikipedia: Yıldız Park was once part of the imperial garden of Yıldız Palace. Extending down the slopes from the palace, this walled park was reserved only for palace dwellers during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II. The area of Yıldız used to be a forest in Byzantine times. Starting during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the sultans made it their hunting grounds. In the next centuries, it remained as a grove behind the seaside palaces. The neighbourhood began to flourish in the wake of construction of the palace in the 19th century. It took its name from the first pavilion, namely Yıldız Kasrı, commissioned by Selim III in early 19th century. The 25-acre (0.10 km2) of the palace's external garden were surrounded by high walls and detached from a grove during the reign of Abdulhamid II in the 19th century. A small artificial lake, pavilions, summer houses and a porcelain factory were established in this section.
According to Wikipedia: Yıldız Park was once part of the imperial garden of Yıldız Palace. Extending down the slopes from the palace, this walled park was reserved only for palace dwellers during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II.
The area of Yıldız used to be a forest in Byzantine times. Starting during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the sultans made it their hunting grounds. In the next centuries, it remained as a grove behind the seaside palaces. The neighbourhood began to flourish in the wake of construction of the palace in the 19th century. It took its name from the first pavilion, namely Yıldız Kasrı, commissioned by Selim III in early 19th century.
The 25-acre (0.10 km2) of the palace’s external garden were surrounded by high walls and detached from a grove during the reign of Abdulhamid II in the 19th century. A small artificial lake, pavilions, summer houses and a porcelain factory were established in this section.
Currently Yıldız Park is a garden complex with many flowers, plants and trees, gathered from every part of the world dating from the Ottoman era. Park grounds offer panoramic views of the Bosphorus. The park is a popular picnic place.. Two beautiful old pavilions,  Çadır and Malta pavilions, are operated as cafes.
Currently Yıldız Park is a garden complex with many flowers, plants and trees, gathered from every part of the world dating from the Ottoman era. Park grounds offer panoramic views of the Bosphorus. The park is a popular picnic place.. Two beautiful old pavilions, Çadır and Malta pavilions, are operated as cafes.
This is a neat idea, but the execution is kinda creepy.
This is a neat idea, but the execution is kinda creepy.

Yildiz Park, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 13 Yildiz Park, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 14 Yildiz Park, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 17

Çadır Pavilion
Çadır Pavilion

Yildiz Park, Istanbul, Nov 2015, 23

A WWII statue. The area is now frequented by skaters.
A WWII statue located near the Tramway station I took to get to the park. The area is now frequented by skaters.

Dealing with students and co-workers–it ain’t easy

5/8/2015
Ali’s mother cleans the apartment every other week (or so). We call her Mamacita and she is so sweet! She just lights up a room when she walks into it. We only share a few words, but I can count on a big smile every time I see her. Such a joy to be around.

The Level 3 class I was to teach was supposed to start last week. It didn’t, but I was told it was only postponed. It would start this coming weekend. Yesterday evening I got an email that it is postponed again. Jeeze! Feast or Famine. Just yesterday, R. was worried that I would feel overworked by taking over “all” of Albert’s Level 5 classes (weekday mornings). No going to be overworked. In fact, I’m afraid to turn down work under the circumstances. Robert’s advice is simply to take all the work you can get, then when you need a day off, get a substitute. I hate that sort of thing, but it may be the only way to be sure of enough hours. And R. didn’t need to worry so about the Level 5 class. It only has a week and a half more to go. It fact it’s just four additional classes (each 4 hours). And since Albert has left the majority of the exams and all the presentations to the end, that’s all I’ll be doing. I have to give exams in: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Plus everyone–roughly 18 people–has to give a presentation. Oh joy.

Trudy will be moving downstairs! Mags is moving out in about a month and that leaves her room open. I know that Trudy has trouble with all the cigarette smoke upstairs—I would too. And Mamacita and Ali’s sister seem to need a temporary place to live as well. Everyone wins, here. For me, it will mean all adults downstairs! And I do love Trudy—like a sister. I fear we will stay up way too late every evening talking about boys. OK, the boys she’s interested in. She seems to attract young men in their 20’s and 30’s. I only attract the stray man who wants a green card. 😉

5/12/2015
Clearly, I spoke too soon about who I attract.

The Saturday night party at Shelley’s was great fun. Wonderful food, amazing view from the balcony and good conversation. But at 10p, I was the first to leave the party because I had to teach in the morning.

Took a wrong turn walking back and after 5-6 blocks realized I was going the wrong way. I was still in a public street that was well lit, so I asked someone for directions, in Turkish. But then I couldn’t get rid of the guy. He was perhaps 30ish, very tall. He knew 4-5 English words. At first I thought he just wanted to practice English, so I let him. Then he wanted to hold hands and put his arm around me! I was polite, but kept saying “no” in Turkish, firmly ,and would shake off his advances. I’ve learned you can’t be too nice about this sort of thing. He kept asking the same question, over and over, but I don’t know what it was. I suspect he was asking for sex. I got more and more firm and loud with my “NO” but he didn’t quit. Then he grabbed my hand tried to get me to pull off into some dark corner. I don’t mean to say that he was abducting me, but he wanted me to follow him. I stopped, stood my ground and said NO (in Turkish). I gave a very clear hand jester and motioned for him to go away, NOW. He grabbed my hand again and I simply started screaming like a little girl in trouble. He ran away.

Honestly, I wasn’t scared. I was angry. Pissed off, actually! It was a public place and I had never left the lighted street. There were always people around. I’m pretty sure it’s the blonde hair, worn down around the shoulders. (Which makes no sense because I’ve been growing out the hair for 14+ months and there’s darn little blonde left. It’s mostly gray!) Stupid men. They think blonde hair means “prostitute.” And an American accent apparently means “free prostitute.” They think American are sex starved! Nope–this never happened to me in the US! Considering carrying a scarf to wrap my head in for times when I’m alone on a Fri/Sat night. Jeeeze. At least men who act like this are mostly cowards.

5/13/2015
Albert has gone to Iran. I am teaching all the classes in the Level 5 class we share (Mon-Fri, 10a-2p), but it’s only a week and a half. In fact, it’s only four additional classes. I’ve confirmed several times by email and in person with both R., the head teacher, and Albert, that I would teach the classes. In fact, I’ve thought it odd that I had to confirm SO many times (and I keep emails like this as evidence. CYA). But somehow R. asked Kate (another teacher who is excellent) to cover for Thursday and Friday. When I questioned R. about it first thing yesterday morning, he lost his mind. He started screaming at me. “I don’t care who teaches the class!” and then “I can’t remember what I’ve said!” I was too shocked to respond. Then he said that he couldn’t have one teacher teaching all the days of a class, I should know that, so he obviously wouldn’t have asked me to teach the class. Plus it was too much for me to do when there were other teachers who needed work. THEN he said I have complained repeatedly about working too many hours.

I composed myself as much as I could and apologized if I had given him the impression that I was overworked. That had not been my intent, particularly when there were few classes starting lately and I’d had two canceled on me. I reminded him that his advice to me was to take as many hours as were offered and that I was taking that advice. I added that if he wanted Kate to teach the class, it was obviously his call as head teacher. All that I was trying to do was to live up to what I had agreed to. I hope I didn’t sound like a petulant child. I collected my stuff and went to my classroom, but was pretty shaken up. My first hour of teaching was not one of my best.

Later that evening, R. came and asked, “Are we good?” I didn’t respond immediately, so he stammered about how earlier when he questioned me about taking the class he was only asking my availability, not if I would teach the class. We both knew that wasn’t true. But I didn’t really answer his question. We aren’t good, just yet. It’s very uncomfortable for me and it will take a couple days to get over it. But the long term affect is that now I don’t know what to believe when I’m asked to cover a class. <sigh>

That incident sucked all the joy from yesterday and it threatens to do it again today.

To be fair, I understand that R. is under a lot of pressure. Working with the branch office is difficult, almost impossible. I wouldn’t have the job for twice the money. Stress ruins short term memory, so Robert may have simply forgotten our conversation, then didn’t want to admit he was wrong. Additionally, he isn’t well paid AND this job means he doesn’t get to teach (which he loves), except for at the last minute (which is never fun). I’m trying to see his point of view. But the over-reaction still stings. Feeling very alone.

LATER: This evening, Gabe asked how I was. Another teacher had witnessed R’s outburst and she had told Gabe, so he knew the situation (Gabe will be the head teacher when R. leaves in October, so he’s up to date on personnel issues). I confided that I was feeling quite uneasy. I told him that it would take me a few days to get over it. Nothing was really wrong and that I understood that Robert was under a lot of stress and had snapped. But Gabe asked me to look him in the eyes. He said I was a great person, the best teacher of the bunch. He said he wanted me to know that he always had my back and to never forget it. I cried. It’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a long time. Bless him.

And, today, I got a glowing letter of recommendation from R. I think it’s his way of saying, “I’m sorry.” I’d asked for one a week or two ago, since I needed one more for my files.

I’m feeling much better now.

5/15/2015
I’ve been working a LOT of hours so not posting to the blog very often. With summer coming on, we have fewer classes starting, so I hate to turn down work when it is offered. This week I’ve mostly been filling in for other teachers, double shifts every day. AND I’ve had 4-one hour activities. Two folks have taken a holiday, so their classes and activities needed a teacher and I got the work. Next week I have a class ending, but will immediately start to cover the last two weeks of another class. A teacher has decided that teaching isn’t for him. He’s going home to London. So I’ve got hours for the next couple weeks, anyway.

R. has confided in me that some of the teachers that started at the same time as I did, simply won’t make it through their three month trial period–which ends soon. (And it will be his job to fire them. No wonder he’s stressed!) So he says I should not worry about hours. There will be fewer classes, but also fewer teachers, so it should even out. I guess we will see.

Today I had to tear up a test in front of a student–caught him cheating. I’d warned the kid (he’s probably 20 years old) more than once, so I can’t understand why he was so surprised by my actions. He sat there shocked for several minutes without speaking! We were taking 2 exams, back-to-back, and I told him he could take the second exam, but if I saw him cheating again, I’d do the same. I’m sure he will complain at the office, so I wrote up a full report, took photographs of the board instructions (which clearly label what “cheating” means) and informed my head teacher (R.) and the teacher trainer (Max). With all the work it took me, it would have been much easier to let him just cheat! I stood my ground when the kid protested after class, but it made me sick to my stomach to do. Honestly, if he has started with an apology instead of a demand, I might have given him a second chance. I guess we will never know. This is not the fun part of teaching.

Today was payday, but we’ve been paid late the last two months. I was covering a class for someone else, but no students showed up. That happens on a Friday night, especially since they just had a test yesterday and knew there would be substitute teacher (me!). You have to wait 35 minutes, inform the office of the situation, THEN email your head teacher. So it was almost 8pm before I left the school. At that point they still didn’t know if they would be paying that night. The branch manager was still out “getting the money.” No one was sure if he’s be back tonight or tomorrow. So I went home rather than wait around for what was probably nothing. But according to R., everyone who was still there at 10p got paid. Now it will probably be Monday before I see any money. <sigh>

Topkapı Palace, the harem

The Imperial Hall (Hünkâr Sofası), also known as the Imperial Sofa, Throne Room Within or Hall of Diversions, 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. Here the sultan received his confidants, guests, his mother, his first wife (Hasseki), 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.
The Imperial Hall (Hünkâr Sofası), also known as the Imperial Sofa, Throne Room Within or Hall of Diversions, 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. Here the sultan received his confidants, guests, his mother, his first wife (Hasseki), 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.

Thursday, during a day off from teaching, I visited Istanbul’s original Ottoman Palace, Topkapı. Yesterday I shared photos of the palace, but today will add photos of the Harem. The word “harem” is a Arabic word, meaning forbidden and it was the private residence of the Sultan and his “family.”

Though not on the tour, the harem also included The Cage, a set of rooms where the sultan's brothers were confined to avoid them trying to take the throne. Brothers of sultans, kings and emperors were often killed, usually strangled, to keep them from trying to take over power.
Though not on the tour, the harem also included The Cage, a set of rooms where the sultan’s brothers were confined to avoid them trying to take the throne. Brothers of sultans, kings and emperors were often killed, usually strangled, to keep them from trying to take over power.
The domed ceiling of the Imperial Hall.  The harem was the residence of the sultan's wives, concubines and children. They were guarded by black African slaves, eunuchs. The sultan and his sons were the only other men allowed in the harem.
The domed ceiling of the Imperial Hall.
The harem was the residence of the sultan’s wives, concubines and children. They were guarded by black African slaves, eunuchs. The sultan and his sons were the only other men allowed in the harem.

According to Wikipedia: “The Imperial Harem (Harem-i Hümayûn) occupied one of the sections of the private apartments of the sultan; it contained more than 400 rooms. The harem was home to the sultan’s mother, the Valide Sultan; the concubines and wives of the sultan; and the rest of his family, including children; and their servants. The harem consists of a series of buildings and structures, connected through hallways and courtyards. Every service team and hierarchical group residing in the harem had its own living space clustered around a courtyard. The number of rooms is not determined, with probably over 100,[78] of which only a few are open to the public. These apartments (Daires) were occupied respectively by the harem eunuchs, the Chief Harem Eunuch (Darüssaade Ağası), the concubines, the queen mother, the sultan’s consorts, the princes and the favorites. There was no trespassing beyond the gates of the harem, except for the sultan, the queen mother, the sultan’s consorts and favourites, the princes and the concubines as well as the eunuchs guarding the harem.

The harem wing was only added at the end of the 16th century. Many of the rooms and features in the Harem were designed by Mimar Sinan. The harem section opens into the Second Courtyard (Divan Meydanı), which the Gate of Carriages (Arabalar Kapısı) also opens to. The structures expanded over time towards the Golden Horn side and evolved into a huge complex. The buildings added to this complex from its initial date of construction in the 15th century to the early 19th century capture the stylistic development of palace design and decoration. Parts of the harem were redecorated under the sultans Mahmud I and Osman III in an Italian-inspired Ottoman Baroque style. These decorations contrast with those of the Ottoman classical age.”

Much of the palace is under renovation, so it’s not all open to the public. Also, many of the jewels, portraits, clothing and special exhibits do not allow photographs.

The women of the harem were slaves, gathered from the furthest corners of the Ottoman Empire and sometimes beyond. Their highest dream was to become a favorite of the sultan and bear him a son. This could possibly lead to marriage. At it's height, the harem contained over 1,000 concubines. The last of these women left in 1909.
The women of the harem were slaves, gathered from the furthest corners of the Ottoman Empire and sometimes beyond. Their highest dream was to become a favorite of the sultan and bear him a son. This could possibly lead to marriage. At it’s height, the harem contained over 1,000 concubines. The last of these women left in 1909.
This terrace is part of the Summer Palace and overlooks the Bosphorus. It has a large fountain and several pavilions (kiosks).
This terrace is part of the Summer Palace and overlooks the Bosphorus. It has a large fountain and several pavilions (kiosks).
The Baghdad Kiosk is situated on the terrace, beside the fountain. It was built to commemorate the Baghdad Campaign of Murad IV after 1638.
The Baghdad Kiosk is situated on the terrace, beside the fountain. It was built to commemorate the Baghdad Campaign of Murad IV after 1638.
At the foot of the hill you can see part of the original palace walls, now alongside a highway.
At the foot of the hill you can see part of the original palace walls, now alongside a highway.
Detail of a door, decorated with mother of pearl.
Detail of a door, decorated with mother of pearl.

Topkapı Palace

The Gate of Salutation, entrance to the inner courtyard of the Topkapı Palace. From this vast palace complex, the Ottoman Empire was ruled for about 400 years.  The other courtyards are open parks, including Gulhane Park, which was covered in tulips this spring. The tulips will soon be pulled away, reveling the roses, for which the park is names. Another outer courtyard includes the green space around Hagia Eirene and a fountain, called the Executioner's fountain. It is so named because the executioner washed his hands and sword here after a public beheading.
The Gate of Salutation, entrance to the inner courtyard of the Topkapı Palace. From this vast palace complex, the Ottoman Empire was ruled for about 400 years.
The other courtyards are open parks, including Gulhane Park, which was covered in tulips this spring. The tulips will soon be pulled away, reveling the roses, for which the park is names. Another outer courtyard includes the green space around Hagia Eirene and a fountain, called the Executioner’s fountain. It is so named because the executioner washed his hands and sword here after a public beheading.

Went to Tapkapı Palace yesterday. It’s an amazing historical sight, but the crowds about did me in! Too many people. It was a beautiful, sunny, hot day and the lines were long. But the metro was worse. Can you say sardines?

The Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayı) was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for approximately 400 years (1465–1856) of their 624-year reign. This post is about the palace. Tomorrow, I’ll focus on photos of the harem.

The tulips are past their prime, but still beautiful.
The tulips are past their prime, but still beautiful.
The Tower of Justice, between trees of the courtyard. The tower symbolizes the eternal vigilance of the sultan against injustice. Everyone from afar was supposed to be able to see the tower to feel assured about the sultan's presence. The tower was also used by the sultan for viewing pleasures. The old tower used to have grilled windows, enabling him to see without being seen, adding to the aura of seclusion. The golden window in the Imperial Council is accessible through the Tower of Justice, thus adding to the importance of the symbolism of justice.
The Tower of Justice, between trees of the courtyard. The tower symbolizes the eternal vigilance of the sultan against injustice. Everyone from afar was supposed to be able to see the tower to feel assured about the sultan’s presence. The tower was also used by the sultan for viewing pleasures. The old tower used to have grilled windows, enabling him to see without being seen, adding to the aura of seclusion. The golden window in the Imperial Council is accessible through the Tower of Justice, thus adding to the importance of the symbolism of justice.
Entrance to the Imperial Council chambers. The Imperial Council (Dîvân-ı Hümâyûn) building is the chamber in which the ministers of state met.
Entrance to the Imperial Council chambers. The Imperial Council (Dîvân-ı Hümâyûn) building is the chamber in which the ministers of state met.
 The ceiling of the Imperial Council chambers. My photo of the golden window did not come out, but from the window, covered by a golden grill, the Sultan or the Valide Sultan (his mother) was able to follow deliberations of the council without being noticed. The window could be reached from the imperial quarters in the adjacent Tower of Justice. This grill was removed by Ataturk.
The ceiling of the Imperial Council chambers. My photo of the golden window did not come out, but from the window, covered by a golden grill, the Sultan or the Valide Sultan (his mother) was able to follow deliberations of the council without being noticed. The window could be reached from the imperial quarters in the adjacent Tower of Justice. This grill was removed by Ataturk.
The Tower of Justice. The tower is the tallest structure in the palace, making it clearly visible from the Bosphorus. The tower was probably originally constructed under Mehmed II and then renovated and enlarged by Suleiman I between 1527-1529.
The Tower of Justice. The tower is the tallest structure in the palace, making it clearly visible from the Bosphorus. The tower was probably originally constructed under Mehmed II and then renovated and enlarged by Suleiman I between 1527-1529.
The Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde or Bab-üs Saadet) is the entrance into the Inner Court (Enderûn). the private and residential areas of the palace. The gate has a dome supported by lean marble pillars. No one could pass this gate without the authority of the Sultan. Even the Grand Vizier was only granted authorization on specified days and under specified conditions. The small, indented stone on the ground in front of the gate marks the place where the banner of Muhammad was unfurled. The Grand Vizier or the commander going to war was entrusted with this banner in a solemn ceremony.
The Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde or Bab-üs Saadet) is the entrance into the Inner Court (Enderûn). the private and residential areas of the palace. The gate has a dome supported by lean marble pillars. No one could pass this gate without the authority of the Sultan. Even the Grand Vizier was only granted authorization on specified days and under specified conditions. The small, indented stone on the ground in front of the gate marks the place where the banner of Muhammad was unfurled. The Grand Vizier or the commander going to war was entrusted with this banner in a solemn ceremony.
The throne room and chamber. Memet II (known as The Conquer) breached the walls of Constantinople in 1453. He chose this spot for his palace and construction began almost immediately. During Greek and Byzantine times, the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Byzantion stood here.
The throne room and chamber. Memet II (known as The Conquer) breached the walls of Constantinople in 1453. He chose this spot for his palace and construction began almost immediately. During Greek and Byzantine times, the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Byzantion stood here.
Inside the throne room and audience chamber, where Sultans ruled from 1465–1856. before moving to the Dolmabahçe Palace.
Inside the throne room and audience chamber, where Sultans ruled from 1465–1856. before moving to the Dolmabahçe Palace.
The trees in the Topkapı Palace complex are remarkable, as many have fallen victim to a fungus that has completely hollowed out their trunks, over the course of centuries. The trees nonetheless survive and remain standing.
The trees in the Topkapı Palace complex are remarkable, as many have fallen victim to a fungus that has completely hollowed out their trunks, over the course of centuries. The trees nonetheless survive and remain standing.
The palace complex is located on the Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu), a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, with a good view of the Bosphorus from many points of the palace. The site is hilly and one of the highest points close to the sea. The tower in the center is the Galata Tower.
The palace complex is located on the Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu), a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, with a good view of the Bosphorus from many points of the palace. The site is hilly and one of the highest points close to the sea. The tower in the center is the Galata Tower.
The Isnik tiles are a wonder--most of the interior walls have lavishly decorated tiles like this, in shades of blue. "Turquoise" literally means the color of the Turks. Isnik is a city in Turkey which produced these tiles, originally copies of Chinese porcelain.
The Isnik tiles are a wonder–most of the interior walls have lavishly decorated tiles like this, in shades of blue. “Turquoise” literally means the color of the Turks. Isnik is a city in Turkey which produced these tiles, originally copies of Chinese porcelain.
This reminded me of the window scene from Romeo and Juliet.
This reminded me of the window scene from Romeo and Juliet.
There was a special exhibit, hidden away and difficult to find. While I enjoyed the artifiacts and information about coffee at "A Drop of Pleasure," I liked the solitude most of all. I had a cool drink in the shade of this courtyard and collected myself. It's not even high season and the museum was bursting with people.
There was a special exhibit, hidden away and difficult to find. While I enjoyed the artifiacts and information about coffee at “A Drop of Pleasure,” I liked the solitude most of all. I had a cool drink in the shade of this courtyard and collected myself. It’s not even high season and the museum was bursting with people.
It was a hot summer day and museum goers seek the shade of one of the trees.
It was a hot summer day and museum goers seek the shade of one of the trees.

Dolmabahçe Palace

This is the four story clock tower and the Dolmabahce Mosque in the background. The clock tower was added to Dolmabahçe Palace, It stands in front of the Treasury Gate along the European waterfront of Bosphorus. Designed in Ottoman neo-baroque style, thetower stands on a floor area of 8.5 × 8.5 m (28 × 28 ft) at a height of 27 m (89 ft).
This is the four story clock tower and the Dolmabahce Mosque in the background. The clock tower stands in front of the Treasury Gate along the European waterfront of Bosphorus. Designed in Ottoman neo-baroque style, the tower stands on a floor area of 8.5 × 8.5 m (28 × 28 ft) at a height of 27 m (89 ft).
My day started with a traditional Turkish breakfast (kahvalti): cheese (paynir), salad vegetables, bread(ekmek), egg (yumerta), honey (muz), olives (zeytin) and tea (cay). Yes, I learn all the food words easily.
My day started with a traditional Turkish breakfast (kahvalti): cheese (paynir), salad vegetables, bread(ekmek), egg (yumerta), honey (muz), olives (zeytin) and tea (cay). Yes, I learn all the food words easily.

Today I had a rare day off and decided to visit the Dolmabahçe (DOL MA BA CHAY) Palace, the last Ottoman Palace constructed. It is a mix of styles and frankly too opulent for it’s own good. It reminded me of a “small” man buying a fancy Lamborghini to impress the ladies, and doing so on credit. This isn’t far off the mark, either, since the Ottoman Empire was in decline when this palace was built and much of the money was borrowed.

I've missed clover! It was simply too hot to grow in south Vietnam. But I looked down and saw this 5 leaf clover just inside the Treasury Gate.
I’ve missed clover! It was simply too hot to grow in south Vietnam. But I looked down and saw this 5 leaf clover just inside the Treasury Gate.

I couldn’t take photos inside, so these are all taken outside the buildings. The palace has belonged to the state since 1924 and is now a museum. The cost to tour both the palace and the harem is 40 Turkish Lira (about $18US). The English tour guide for the palace spoke so poorly and with such a thick accent, I have no idea what he said–and I’m typically very good with accents. The guide for the haram was quite good and easy to understand.

If you say the words out loud, they often make sense.
If you say the words out loud, they often make sense.

The most amazing thing for me was the crystal staircase. It stunned visitors from the first. It is made of Baccarat Crystal and brass, with a polished mahogany rail. I was in awe of the numerous crystal chandeliers–every room seemed to have one or more. Just keeping them clean would have taken a small army! The Ceremonial Hall with its domed ceiling has (reportedly) the world’s heaviest chandelier, an estimated 4 tons. All the window treatments were rich and varied. The parquet floors were covered by lavish silk carpets. Even the doorknobs and keyhole covers were ornate, hand painted porcelain. But the mish-mash of styles and over-abundance of gold leaf was too much for me–like someone trying too hard. Lavish, but unlivable.

The Treasury Gate. Dolmabahçe is the largest palace in Turkey. It has an area of 45,000 square meters (11.2 acres), and contains 285 rooms (150 in the haram), 46 halls, 6 baths (hamam) and 68 toilets (most are ornate, marble holes in the floor). The huge expense of building this palace--roughly 35 tons of gold--placed an enormous burden on the state and contributed to the  financial decline of the Ottoman Empire. Eventually, it slid into bankruptcy and was known as the "sick man of Europe" by European powers.
The Treasury Gate. Dolmabahçe is the largest palace in Turkey. It has an area of 45,000 square meters (11.2 acres), and contains 285 rooms (150 in the haram), 46 halls, 6 baths (hamam) and 68 toilets (most are ornate, marble holes in the floor).
The huge expense of building this palace–roughly 35 tons of gold–placed an enormous burden on the state and contributed to the financial decline of the Ottoman Empire. Eventually, it slid into bankruptcy and was known as the “sick man of Europe.”
View of the palace from the waterfront. The site of Dolmabahçe was originally a bay on the Bosphorus strait, used for the Ottoman fleet. The area was reclaimed gradually during the 18th century to become an imperial garden, much appreciated by the Ottoman sultans. This is where the name comes from. Dolmabahçe (Filled-in Garden) comes from the Turkish dolma meaning "filled" and bahçe meaning "garden." Various small summer palaces and wooden pavilions were built here during the 18th and 19th centuries ultimately forming a palace complex.
View of the palace from the waterfront. The site of Dolmabahçe was originally a bay on the Bosphorus strait, used for the Ottoman fleet. The area was reclaimed gradually during the 18th century to become an imperial garden, much adored by the Ottoman sultans. This is where the name comes from: Dolmabahçe (Filled-in Garden) comes from the Turkish dolma meaning “filled” and bahçe meaning “garden.” Various small summer palaces and wooden pavilions were built here during the 18th and 19th centuries ultimately forming a palace complex.
The Dolmabahçe Mosque was commissioned by queen mother Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan. After she died, Sultan Abdülmecid, her son, continued to support the construction of the mosque, which was completed in 1855
The Dolmabahçe Mosque was commissioned by queen mother Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan. After she died, Sultan Abdülmecid, her son, continued to support the construction of the mosque, which was completed in 1855.
Dolmabahçe Palace was ordered by the Empire's 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I, and built between the years 1843 and 1856. Previously, the Sultan and family had lived at the Topkapı Palace (which I will see later since it is also a museum), but  the medieval Topkapı lacked contemporary style, luxury, and comfort. The sultan wanted something to compare with the palaces of the European monarchs, Abdülmecid built a new modern palace, using mostly borrowed funds from foreign interests and a devaluing the currency by issuing lots of paper money.
Dolmabahçe Palace was built by the Empire’s 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I, between 1843 and 1856. Previously, the Sultan and family had lived at the Topkapı Palace (which I will see later). The medieval Topkapı lacked contemporary style, luxury and comfort. The sultan wanted something to compare with the palaces of European monarchs. Abdülmecid built a modern palace, using mostly borrowed funds from foreign interests and by a devaluing the currency by issuing lots of paper money.

Dolmabahche Palace, Istanbul, March 2015, 13

One of the entrance gates. Dolmabahçe Palace was home to six Sultans from 1856  until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924, The last royal to live here was Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi, who was banish from Turkey along with his family in 1924.  Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, used the palace as a presidential residence during the summers. He enacted some of his most important legislation here. Atatürk spent the last days here as well, dying in one of the bedrooms  on November 10, 1938 at 9:05. all of the clocks in the palace are stopped at this time in his honor.
The Sultan’s entrance gate. Dolmabahçe Palace was home to six Sultans from 1856 until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924, The last royal to live here was Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi, who was banish from Turkey along with his family.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, used the palace as a presidential residence during the summer. He enacted some of his most important legislation here. Atatürk spent his last days here as well, dying in one of the bedrooms on November 10, 1938 at 9:05a. All of the clocks in the palace are stopped at this time in his honor.
Tomb of Hoca Ahmet Turani. I could find nothing about him on the web and I can't read Turkish. Yet. But this grave is in the garden area of the palace.
Tomb of Hoca Ahmet Turani. I could find nothing about him on the web and I can’t read Turkish. Yet. But this grave is in the garden area of the palace.

The following are NOT my photos. All are licensed by Wikimedia Commons. I use them since I could not take photos and I want you to see some the inside palace.

Façade of the Selamlik--the entrance of the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul. by OscarKosy
Façade of the Selamlik–the entrance of the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.  The gardens will be beautiful in about a month. You could already see tulips and other bulbs pushing their way out of the ground. This photo must have been taken in Spring or early summer. Photo by OscarKosy.
The chandelier gifted by Queen Victoria, and may be the heaviest in the world. The domed ceiling alone with worth the visit.  Ceremonial hall,  Dolmabahce March 2008 pano4" by Gryffindor
The chandelier, gifted by Queen Victoria, may be the heaviest in the world. The domed ceiling alone with worth the visit.
Ceremonial hall, Dolmabahce March 2008 pano4″ by Gryffindor
Baccarat crystal balusters of the Crystal Staircase "Dolmabahce Baccarat bannister" by Peace01234
Baccarat crystal balusters of the Crystal Staircase
“Dolmabahce Baccarat bannister” by Peace01234
Ambassador's Hall (Süfera Salonu) with two bearskin rugs--the bears looked like they needed dusting. The standing chandeliers were beautiful.  "Ambassador Hall Dolmabahce March 2008panoc" by Gryffindor
Ambassador’s Hall (Süfera Salonu) with two bearskin rugs–the bears looked like they needed dusting. The standing chandeliers were beautiful.
“Ambassador Hall Dolmabahce March 2008panoc” by Gryffindor
Blue Hall "Dolmabahce Palace ced" by Mircea Ostoia - originally posted to Flickr
Blue Hall
“Dolmabahce Palace ced” by Mircea Ostoia – originally posted to Flickr
The Pink Hall "Dolmabahce Palacasdfe" by Mircea Ostoia - originally posted to Flickr
The Pink Hall
“Dolmabahce Palacasdfe” by Mircea Ostoia – originally posted to Flickr
The bed Ataturk died in.  "Ataturk deathbed Dolmabahce March 2008" by Gryffindor
The bed Ataturk died in.
“Ataturk deathbed Dolmabahce March 2008” by Gryffindor