"Mehter Band Performance" Topkapi Palace Tip by nicolaitan

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul: 277 reviews and 656 photos

A highlight of a visit to Topkapi is a performance by the traditional Turkish military band in the Second Courtyard. Mehter bands are the oldest military marching bands, traditionally first with the Selcuk dynasty in the 12th Century but possibly extending back several hundred years earlier. The music, the instruments, and the uniforms bring remote Turkey to the modern day visitor. The music was written to inspire the Turkish soldiers and emphasize the independence of the Ottoman empire as well as to disorient the opposing army, based on shrill pipes, horns, and booming bass-drum type kos drums and cymbals. Uniforms vary among bands but usually including tall flaring hats and long silk brightly colored robes. The military music was adopted by several famous European composers including Beethoven and Mozart. With the end of the palace guard in the 19th C when the sultans moved to the riverside palaces, the military bands came to an end. With the birth of the Turkish state in the 1920's interest in traditional music led to a revival of these bands which appear at state functions, museums, and in overseas venues.

At Topkapi, the band enters single file to the sounds of heavy drumming and form a semi-circle in front of the Gate of Felicity. Their music is loud, high-pitched and shrill, and the stylized performances particularly by the multiple drummers are memorable.

Address: Sultanahmet
Phone: +90 212 512 0480
Website: http://topkapisarayi.gov.tr/en

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 1, 2009
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