“Iconic Building Series” – Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

For nearly 400 years, the Ottoman sultans ruled their empire from Topkapi Palace at Istanbul, Turkey. In 1459, Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople and began building the palace in the renamed city. The palace housed up to 4,000 people and included a hospital, bakery and mint.

Several architects designed the various parts of the palace, which was added to over the years. One of them was Mimar Sinan, said to have lived from 1489 to 1588. He travelled throughout Southeastern Europe and the Middle East. As a result, both Christian and Muslim styles influenced his work.

The palace is a bulwark topped with domes and featuring arched doorways, gilded eaves, fountains and pavilions. Complexes of rooms, including 400 that formed the harem that also housed the mother, children and servants of the sultan, cluster around four major courtyards, the open air centres of daily life. Ornate floral designs and colourful tiles cover many of the walls; others are whitewashed. Passages link the complexes and provided escape routes for the sultan. The Throne Room’s opulence is complemented with gifts from foreign rulers, such as clocks given by Queen Victoria.

Topkapi Palace is now a museum and tourist destination, providing a glimpse into another way of life.