"First Courtyard and Palace Layout" Topkapi Palace Tip by nicolaitan
Topkapi Palace, Istanbul: 277 reviews and 656 photos
This 300 yard long park like courtyard (image 1) was open in Ottoman times to all the populace, at least on certain days. And entrance remains free today. Also known as the Court of the Janissaries, it was a place for merchants, tradesmen, and the special infantry units ( janissaries ) guarding the palace. Along one break in the wall to the right after entering there are great views ( image 2) of the Bosphorus. The peripheral walls were composed of functional palace units, including an imperial mint, hospitals, stables, a bakery, and other units. The Byzantine Hagia Irene is within this courtyard, the only major Byzantine church not converted to a mosque but instead left intact as an armory and storehouse. This church is closed to visitors except for concerts. Also adjacent is the famed Archaeologic Museum, closed on Mondays as we sadly discovered. Of passing interest, we noted that nobody left the pathways to walk on the grass, no picnics, no young lovers, no frisbee, no nothing.
Along the right wall facing the sea is a fountain ( image 3 ) allegedly used by the the executioner to clean his hands and sword after decapitations performed just inside the second courtyard.
The First Courtyard is also home to a legion of well fed cats ( image 4 ), gathered by the main pathway in anticipation of treats from the line of visitors.
Just inside the Second Courtyard at the ticket booths, a detailed plan of the Topkapi Palace ( image 5 ) is displayed on tables, a opportunity for orientation and planning. The Topkapi has far too many attractions to visit even with a three plus hour stay, and some planning is suggested.
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