Monday – 30/12/2019 | Topkapı Palace & Madame Tussauds

Our day started at 9am, we caught the tram to Sultan Ahmet and sat for a bit outside Hagia Sofia. The majesty of the Hagia Sofia blew me away every time I saw it.

We then took a short walk to Topkapı Palace where we waited for our guide in front of the III. Ahmet Fountain.

Topkapı comes from the words “top” meaning cannon and “kapı” meaning gate.

First courtyard
It is covered with vaults from even before the Ottomans. It was the Center of the whole city. Istanbul used to be Constantinople, the capital. We entered through the Imperial Gate, Bab-ı Humayun. The entire palace is seven thousand square meters. The gate has the signature of Mahmood II. When you see a signature, it is a sign that you’re entering an official place. The gate also has verses from the Qur’aan on it.

The first courtyard holds the royal mint, which was the central bank of the Ottoman Empire. As our tour guide put it, it’s the world’s largest ATM.

We then passed the Executioner Fountain. It was said that if you received sherbet, it meant that you were going to get killed but if they gave you water, you’re free to leave.

To get to the second courtyard, you have to enter through Bab-us-Salaam, the Gate of Salutation. It was built in the 16th century by Sulaymaan the Magnificent.

2nd courtyard
After passing through Bab-us-Salaam, you entered the council square. The Ottomans managed thirty two countries from a small chamber.

There is a tower of Justice here that is 32 feet high. It is the only high structure in the palace.

The magnificent palace’s kitchens are on the right hand side of the courtyard. In the 16th and 17th century, between 5 000 and 10 000 people lived in the palace, the kitchen was huge so it could feed these people three times a day.

Topkapi Palace’s weakness is the seaside. It used to be protected by 5 000 soldiers and two major walls.

This is where our tour ended with our guide and he suggested that we do the Islamic relics first. To be honest, the only reason we came to Topkapı Palace, was for the Islamic relics.

Third courtyard
There are four rooms housing various Islamic relics (I have included the list below). Everyone, whether Muslim or not, is allowed to visit here. You aren’t allowed to take pictures and it’s very very crowded. But definitely worth it. I was amazed by all of the relics that we saw, the relics that we only heard about in Islamic history. It was great to see the history I learnt over the years come to life. There was a huffadh in one of the rooms reciting Qur’aan which could be heard in every room on the speakers. The only thing disappointed me about this room was the fact that the people were very disrespectful. Many times while standing in the line to see a relic, we had to bite our lips to not tell someone off. I think if you’re in a place that holds so much of significance for people, you should be respectful even if you’re just there as a tourist and these things hold no meaning to you.

Islamic relics

  1. Kaabah key that is kept by the sultans of the ottoman
  2. Nabi Dawood (A.S)’s sword and a tablet explaining the story of it.
  3. Nabi Moosa (A.S)’s staff
  4. The saucepan of Nabi Ibraheem (A.S)
  5. Turban of Nabi Yusuf (A.S)
  6. Arm relic and casing of Nabi Yahya (A.S)
  7. Skull relic and casing of Nabi Yahya (A.S)
  8. Model of dome of the rock
  9. Footprint of Nabi ﷺ
  10. Destimal
  11. Mold of destimal
  12. Kaabah gutter
  13. Case of the Hajr-e-Aswad
  14. The repentance door – Abbasid period
  15. Sword of Sayyidina Zubayr bin Awwam (R.A), Sayyidina Ammar bin Yassir (R.A), Sayyidina Jafar al Tayyar (R.A) and Sayyidina Khalid bin Waleed (R.A) and swords of other companions
  16. Case of the banner of Nabi ﷺ
  17. The beard of Nabi ﷺ
  18. Case of the beard of Nabi ﷺ
  19. Case of Nabi’s ﷺ tooth
  20. Soil from Madinah
  21. Case of Nabi ﷺ patten
  22. The stamp of Nabi ﷺ
  23. Hilye Saadet
  24. Beard of Nabi ﷺ
  25. Sword of Sayyidina Abu Bakr (R.A)
  26. Sword of Sayyidina Umar (R.A)
  27. Sword of Nabi ﷺ
  28. Sword of Nabi ﷺ
  29. Bow of Nabi ﷺ
  30. Sword of Sayyidina Uthmaan (R.A)
  31. Sword of Sayyidina Ali (R.A)
  32. Sword of Sayyidina Ali (R.A)
  33. Case of Sayyiditina Fatima (R.A)
  34. Mantle of Sayyiditina Fatima (R.A)
  35. Symbolic Sarcophagus cover of Sayyiditina Fatima (R.A)
  36. Cloak of Sayyidina Husain (R.A)
  37. Soil of Karbala
  38. Cup from which Nabi ﷺ drank water
  39. Beard of Nabi ﷺ
  40. Soil from Madinah

After we saw the Islamic relics, we decided to skip the harem and go somewhere inside and warm. It was freezing and we didn’t want to get sick.

So, our next stop was Madame Tussauds. We took the tram from Sultan Ahmet to Kabatas. At Kabatas, you change to the funicular which takes you straight to Taksim Square. Madame Tussauds is on Istiklal Road. I loved the vibe here, everyone was shopping, there’s a buzz in the air, people are just having a good time.

Madame Tussauds really was an experience, I would definitely do it again in another country. I’m not sure who had more fun here, my siblings and I or our parents.

They have wax statues of people from different categories, music, film, art, science and even politics. Michael Jackson, Albert Einstein and Johnny Depp to Demi Lovato, Sabiha Goken and Angelina Jolie. We spent one and a half hours here. There’s a souvenir shop on your way out which isn’t badly priced.

After visiting Sephora (why don’t we have one in SA yet?) and drooling over make up that I’d barely used, we went to H&M. South Africa’s H&M are terrible compared to the ones I’ve seen in other countries. This one was five stories and had everything for everyone, men, women and kids, make up and skincare and even home. We just browsed through because at this point, the hunger was kicking in.

We went back to the European side of Istanbul for supper. A lot of people had suggested Burgerillas so that’s where we went. The burgers were really good, my dad had a normal cheese burger and the rest of us had mushroom stack burgers. Our staple snack for our trip has been onion rings so those went down too.

Step count: 16 283

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