Topkapi Palace: History & Power Struggle Amongst The Sultan’s Wives

Topkapi Palace is popular tourist destination in Istanbul. This is because at one point, it served as a royal residence to as many as 4,000 people. The compound, comprised of four main courtyards, had its own mosques, hospital, bakeries and a mint from producing money.




Interestingly, the 4000 residents included the sultan’s wives, concubines, children and their servants. Stories say there were power struggles amongst the wives because the highest ranking wife and the mother of the future sultan would be the one in charge of the whole harem, a powerful position. This is tricky. Nothing much is really written about it because the wives were bound by secrecy but words were passed on or some wives made secret diaries and were found by historians. Some writings were also found on walls.




Nowadays, Topkapi Palace serves as a museum and contains extremely important holy relics from the Muslim world to include items belonging to Prophet Mohammed, including his cloak and sword; Abraham’s saucepan; the sword of Prophet David; the turban of Prophet Joseph; and they also claim to have the staff of Moses!




The museum also boasts of precious priceless jewelries on display – big stones you have never seen before! They also have clothes worn by sultans, which are abnormally huge. This is because they needed to show off the fabric and look grand. You can spend a whole day here and not finish it.



A Brief History

Originally, Topkapi Palace was simply called “The New Palace” and this was to distinguish it from the previous residence. Over the centuries, the complex has expanded to include renovations after the earthquake which occurred in 1509. Further renovations were necessary after the fire which broke out in 1665. Then in the 17th century, Topkapi Palace gradually lost its charm as the sultans who were living there during this time, now preferred to spend more time in their newly built palaces along the Bosporus.




In 1923, after the end of the Ottomon Empire, Topkapi Palace was designated and decided by government decree to be turned into a museum to highlight and celebrate the former Imperial city. At present, Topkapi Palace Museum is run by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The Palace itself is a complex mosaic containing hundreds of rooms and chambers, many of which are accessible to the public.




Topkapi Palace is a wonderful place to visit and an opportunity to revisit history and step back in time. This popular tourist attraction will appeal to all ages. While there, you will have an opportunity to see large collections of armour, weapons, beautiful robes porcelain and Ottoman miniatures along with manuscripts in Islamic calligraphy, along with murals. In addition, you will also see an enormous display of Ottoman treasures and jewelry. There is something for everyone at Topkapi Palace and of course there are plenty of things to do while in Istanbul, and visiting Topkapi Palace should be one of them. Enjoy!



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  • Chemmelbee

    Good stuff! Wasn’t this also where the staff of Moses was??

    • SquirmyFeet

      Yes! I mentioned it on the article. Honestly, I doubt that is the real staff of Moses. I would think they would have better protection than a thin glass case if they have one of the most powerful symbol of many religion 🙂

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