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Saturday 29 September 2007

Top Ten Sights in Istanbul – No. 7: Dolmabahçe Sarayi

The Dolmabahçe Palace (Dolmabahçe Sarayi) was built in 1856 under the commission of Sultan Abdül Mecit. This was the time when the Ottoman Empire was in decline and the construction of the palace was only possible with the financing from foreign banks.

There are two main parts of the palace. The Slamlik consists of the state rooms and the enormous Ceremonial Hall; whereas the Harem houses the private rooms of the Sultan and his entourage.

The clock tower near the Imperial Gate of the palace.

The Imperial Gate which was once used exclusively by the sultan his ministers, and it is now the main entrance to the palace compound.

A gate along the main axis of the palace layout.

The Imperial Garden in front of the palace with the Swan Fountain in the middle. This was built in the 16th century on recovered land, hence the name Dolmabahçe, which literally means "Filled-in Garden."

The main entrance to the palace building.

A private visit to the palace main building is prohibited, so I have to resort to a guided tour. I didn't have to pay extra for the guided tour as it is already included in the ticket.

An event which looks like a wedding reception being set up at the courtyard right in front of the main palace building.

The workers were busy with the event preparation.

When I was passing through the security checkpoint at the main entrance of the palace building, a small incidence happened. I was carrying quite a big camera backpack which one of my friends referred to as 'the five-kilogram bag,' consisting of a detachable haversack and a belt-pouch. The security guards insisted that I put my bag at the clog room before I can enter the palace. I however insisted that I have to carry the bag with me as I'm a photographer and I need all the equipment with me by showing them the contents in the bag.

It was a mistake revealing to them that the bag is 'transformable' into a haversack and a belt-pouch while showing them the bag contents! They then insisted again I put either part of the bag in the clog room, so I attached back the haversack to the belt-pouch and convinced them that it is one single backpack again. I got my way through my articulation of convincing them it is just a 'small' bag as compared to my body size by showing them how I'm going to carry the bag inside the palace. At the end, I have every single personal belonging with me inside the palace, haha. :D

Part of the Crystal Staircase made from Baccarat crystal.

While I as touring the Slamlik, I met with a Icelandic professor in dentistry from Sweden who was also travelling alone in Turkey. She has been to many parts of the world, including South East Asia.

One of the state rooms in the Slamlik.

While waiting for the second part of our tour through Harem, the Icelandic professor shared with me one of her travelling experience which I find very interesting. She was once on a cruise through the Panama Canal and the tour was delayed for more than four hours due to a stupid U.S. U-boat (as according to her) passing by the canal. When this was announced on board the cruise ship, the Americans clapped and cheered. She found the act stupid, childish and arrogant, and she hated that had delayed the schedule of her tour. I shared the same feeling too, haha! :D

One of the halls in the Harem. Harem was derived from the Arabic word 'haram' which literally means 'forbidden.'

The ceiling of the bathroom was built to direct natural light through the openings.

Another type of bathroom ceiling directing the sunlight for natural lighting.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Istanbul, here are the links:-

Friday 28 September 2007

Top Ten Sights in Istanbul – No. 8: Yerebatan Sarayi

The Byzantine Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi) is an underground water cistern built in 532 A.D. The roof of the cistern is supported by 336 columns of more than 8 m high. You can walk through the Cistern by the planked path circling around the cavernous interior.

Some of the 336 columns holding up the roof.

Another part of the cistern with the supporting columns.

Symmetrically arranged columns of the cistern.

While walking through the Cistern, I can feel water dripping on my head from the porous ceiling, while the dripping sound of the water drops hitting the body of water on the floor of the Cistern synchronises with the classical music playing in the background.

One of the few columns with 'eyes' all round.

One of the two Medusa head bases used to support the columns, showing the evidence of plundering by the Byzantines from earlier monuments.

The water cistern is filled with life.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Istanbul, here are the links:-

Thursday 27 September 2007

Top Ten Sights in Istanbul – No. 9: İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri

The Istanbul Archaeological Museums (İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri) is a must visit place if you are interested to see the artifacts from the ancient Roman period, the Byzantine period, the Ottoman period, and even the prehistoric period. The plural is not a misspelling but an indication of the multiple museums in the same compound. One ticket is all you need to visit all the museums, so it is quite purse-friendly and well worth the Yeni Türk Lirasi (New Turkish Lira) spent.

The main museum building has two wings with 4 floors of exhibition area.

There is an outdoor café at the courtyard exhibition area selling light snacks and drinks. I was there for the whole day exploring all the exhibits, therefore had a light lunch with cookies and coffee here.

The outdoor café where I had lunch.

Visitors can enjoy looking at the outdoor exhibits in the courtyard.

The ground floor of the main building's right wing houses the collections of marble statues from the Roman and Byzantine periods.

A Roman marble statue without the head.

A head without the body. How will it look like if it's place on the body of the previous statue?

A panel carving with colouring.

Shaking hands has been around for ages, but most people nowadays have forgotten the true meaning behind it.

Marble statue of a lady without the head.

Even the fruit basket is so elaborately carved.

The models in the ancient time had already set certain standards for modern modeling today.

The first floor of the main building houses the collections from the prehistoric era and some marble statues of the Byzantine period.

An interesting spiral staircase linking the floors.

A clay jar from the prehistoric period.

Even the prehistoric people knew about adding value to the artifact by decorating it.

Leaving the prehistoric period, I came to an area with exhibition of mosaics. These mosaics are mostly from the Byzantine period.

A marble staircase linking the floors of exhibition area.

A mosaic floor for the houses in the Byzantine period.

Bits and pieces of a mosaic floor.

At the ground floor of the left wing, a lot of huge sarcophaguses are exhibited. Among others, the prominent Alexander Sarcophagus believed to be built for King Abdalonymos of Sidon.

Carvings on the Alexander Sarcophagus depicting the war between Alexander the Great and the Persians.

A replica of the carvings with colours.

Carvings on another sarcophagus depicting the scene of vineyard workers harvesting the grapes.

Right opposite the main museum building is the Çinili Pavilion with exhibits of the Islamic arts.

The symmetrical Çinili Pavilion building.

An Iznik ceramic plate.

Hexagonal Iznik tiles.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Istanbul, here are the links:-

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Top Ten Sights in Istanbul – No. 10: Süleymaniye Camii

The Süleymaniye Camii (Süleymaniye Mosque) in Istanbul is in fact the most important mosque due to the magnificent ruler and the great architect, Süleymaniye the Magnificent and Sinan, respectively. However, this mosque is always overshadowed by the most prominent mosque in Istanbul, Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque).

Süleymaniye Camii was built from 1550 to 1557 on top of a hill as an imperial mosque in the grounds of the old palace, Eksi Saray.

The mosque framed in arches of the main courtyard.

The mosque as viewed through the main courtyard entrance, the Muvakkithane Gateway, and an arch.

The main dome and the two sky-scrapping minarets.

The main dome of Süleymaniye Camii.

The arches surrounding the main courtyard of the mosque.

The domed and arched corridor of the main courtyard.

The mosque interior with a sense of soaring space.

The height of the dome from the floor is exactly double its diameter.

The main dome is supported on four pendentives.

The interior is lit by giant chandeliers hanging from the dome and pendentives.

This is a side aisle of the mosque.

The details of a pendentive supporting the main dome.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Istanbul, here are the links:-

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