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Posted by Jessica on Jul 23, 2009
Twelve Photos of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul

At some point during our time in Southeast Asia we met another traveler who mentioned he was going to Istanbul. We spent the next several minutes raving about how gorgeous Istanbul is, how friendly the people are, and the more popular sites to see when you're there.

During our discussion, we mentioned that if he was short on time or cash, that he should skip Topkapi Palace. Built in the fifteenth century and the political center of the Ottoman empire for over 400 years, we said it was overrated and expensive compared to many of the other sites in Istanbul. And we pointed that if he had ever seen places like Alhambra in Spain (which we luckily had), then it would feel like a letdown.

Throughout the rest of our trip, we continued to mention this tip to a few other folks too. Somehow after our visit to Topkapi Palace we had convinced ourselves it wasn't worth the money or the time. Somehow we had convinced ourselves that it was an average sort of place and nothing special to write home about. So we truly thought the tip was helpful, a way to let other backpackers avoid disappointment and an expensive day.

It wasn't until a few months ago, when Tim was looking through our photos, that we realized we're idiots.

Perhaps we were just tired or maybe we were comparing it too closely to Alhambra (one of the most stunning places we'd ever seen). Whatever the reason, we had misremembered how gorgeous Topkapi Palace had been.

Sure, at 20 Turkish Lira or US$13 per person Topkapi Palace is more expensive than most other sites in Istanbul. And no, that entrance fee doesn't cover everything. (For example, to see the Harem – which is one of the best parts of the palace – you have to pay an additional 15 Turkish Lira or US$10.) And yes, if you've seen Alhambra than Topkapi Palace will obviously feel very familiar. And sure, Topkapi Palace is one of the most popular tourist sites in Istanbul which means there'll be more crowds.

But on the other hand? Sometimes it's just awesome to see gorgeous examples of architecture and history and culture. So as penance for a bad (though well-meaning) tip, we want to share some of our favorite photos of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.

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Subpolka
July 23, 2009 at 2:34pm
Gorgeous! In particular, the green-and-gold made me swoon. Think the Turkish people would mind if I moved in?
Jessica the hedgehog
July 23, 2009 at 2:35pm
You could live in the Harem! (It was by far the nicest part of the palace…)
Klaus
July 23, 2009 at 4:15pm
Turkey is now on the list of places to visit :)

I can relate to your initial experience sinse we visited Versailles/France. When you are there, it all looks a bit dark and yellowed, but on pictures it looks great.

Standing in Louis XVs bedroom, with the slightly damaged bed and curtains, I mentally overlayed the picture of the servants dressing him in golden clothes, spraying perfume and serving cups of morning coffee, assorted delicious pastries and hot chocolate… while heating his bath with glowing charcoal in an intrincately decorated cast iron stove… then it all made sense.

Tim the hedgehog
July 25, 2009 at 9:14am

Turkey is now on the list of places to visit :)

Klaus, you would just adore Turkey. There's nothing quite like a stroll through a valley filled with fairy chimneys, followed up by some nice hot güveç and apple tea! :)

I can relate to your initial experience sinse we visited Versailles/France. When you are there, it all looks a bit dark and yellowed, but on pictures it looks great.

Yeah, that's a good point – it might be that part of it is the place just photographs so beautifully. There have certainly been a number of places where photos just didn't begin to do the scenery justice… maybe Topkapi is an example of the opposite phenomenon. :)

July 27, 2009 at 4:58pm
OK…now you HAVE to go back to Turkey to be our tour guides. How can you possible tease us with these gorgeous pictures and not leave us wanting to go with you?!
Jessica the hedgehog
July 27, 2009 at 5:02pm
LOL! Absolutely! My fingers are crossed we can go together sometime in 2010. :)

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