EUNUCHS, QUEEN VICTORIA, DIAMOND EGG CUPS – TOPKAPI PALACE, ISTANBUL 1976

MONDAY 18TH OCTOBER, 1976

Part One:
“Decided not enough people to go for fish super, so cancelled it.  Bus dropped us at Blue Mosque again.  Jan, me and Heidi, Bill and Shirley made for the Topkapi PalaceBegan to pour again.  Palace had lovely courtyards and gardens of trees which must be lovely in the sunshine.  All buildings fairly low lying, in pavilions.

First went to the kitchens – large chimneys.  Inside was all the Chinese pottery, some very early stuff, masses of it.  Really beautiful blue patterns, large bowls and coffee pots, mugs, urns etc.  Latter stuff green, pink and mixed colours; some very beautiful.  (Imagine using big china urn to pour the cordial in the bus!  Might have even more spills!)

Next thing we peered into was the Sultan’s library, can’t see inside, but saw low couches and book stand.  Then saw the magnificent jewellery.  Incredible jewel studded weapons – quivers, daggers, pistols etc.  Lavish pendants, bags.  Section with utensils such as diamond studded egg cups, jade carved bowls.  The next section was mainly emeralds, including the biggest emerald in the world.  Various jewel studded thrones – looked rather uncomfortable!  Then there were some fantastic diamonds, including the spoon mason’s diamond – really massive.  Gold candlesticks with 6666 diamonds in them – prayers of the Koran.

There was also a house ful of sacred emblems, such as coffers for Mohammed’s mantle and little casks with his tooth and hairs from beard etc.  Sacred weapons and padlocks from some gate.  We then went off and bought some biscuits before the harem guided tour was due.  Met up with Chris and Nikki.

The harem was fascinating.  Very secluded, over 400 rooms.  Dark corridor of cells for eunuchs.  The bigger rooms had lovely decorated doors of fruit and pink patterned walls, blue tiles, and incredibly intricate ceilings – the Crown Prince’s room had a material covered dome ceiling.  Turkish baths and the Sultan’s room had running water in so that people couldn’t hear what he was discussing with his mother about politics etc.

Fresh fish sandwiches off boats at Galata Bridge

Lovely large entertainment room, low lying bolsters, carpet covered floor, chair with eagle from Willhelm III, and 2 clocks from Queen Victoria.  About 300-500 women in all.

Then we headed straight for the quayside for fish and bread off the little boats –really good.”

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