I wandered through the grounds of the Topkapi Palace and a Turkish gent started chatting to me; giving me advice on what to do. He said the Bosporus cruise was a must and made no effort to sell me one or recommend a place to go, so I believe him that it is a good idea.He also told me I looked like a Turk. I think there may be some truth to that, even if it’s just I don’t move like a tourist, never have, because I have been hassled very little by shop people and guides and guards have been telling me things in Turkish. Which really doesn’t help me at all, but is flattering.
Got to the top of the palace, where they sold the tickets and figured that I might as well go in, it was half three but it didn't close till 7, so seems like a good way to end the trip round the place. 10 Lira to enter, which is about 4 quid. It’s another 10 to get into the Haram, which IS supposed to be really good, but that closed at 5 and is a fair way away, so I decided not to do it. I got an audio guide, as that was 5 Lira, so for like 2 quid you get a decent guide around. It was very cool, it’s a series of smaller structures, rather than one big castle like you'd get in Europe. Actually, thinking about it, it was similar to a place I went to in Crete, but more opulent as it was a Sultan’s palace rather than a military outpost. The decorations, opulent and amazing, were very reminiscent of the Russian Tsars, doing Moscow & St Peters burg you can see the massive influence Russia had on the Ottoman. Interestingly, you can also see the influence of the Royal Kaftan on the military uniforms...
Rooms full of treasure, including the Spoonmaker's Diamond, and 86 Carat diamond that was found in a rubbish tip and sold to a trader for the princely sum of three wooden spoons. There was also a pair of gold candlesticks, each weighing about 50kilos!! so candlesticks worth more than my weight in gold.
One bit did strain my credulity, the sacred room. First thing you really see is something labeled “Sword of the Prophet David” now, I'm not a Muslim scholar nor am I a scholar of Muslim theology, but I know a few bits and bobs and David being a Hebrew name brought me up a little. The date was also 10BC, made me pause a second and realise this was supposed to be the sword of King David the Giantslayer, one of the few openly gay biblical characters (depending on your personal interpretation of the Aramaic of course) ok, so that one, not convinced. After that was the Rod of Moses. Seriously. It was a stick. I know, size doesn’t matter, but this was what parted the Red Sea, Heston had a mighty staff when he did it! My blasphemy aside, I imagine the providence on these items is less than complete. But, interesting none the less they do have some artefacts from Mohammed (p.b.u.h) which I can believe, it was only 1200 years ago and he was venerated from day one. Also, I can’t imagine many of the Jewish visitors to the area would necessarily agree with the telling of the tale of Abraham. It also skips the fact that his son Isaac was fathered on one of his daughters.
Anyway, finished up in the palace, which is worth a visit if anyone comes to Istanbul and wandered out, finding the archaeological museum and the Museum of Science & Tech. Which are both now on my list of things to do.