Turkey 4: Istanbul, Modern Palaces, Modern Art

After two big days (and a big opening evening, if you think about it), we went a little smaller today, adding just two stops to our day.  The sun was up, as was the heat, so we didn’t want to eradicate ourselves too much, especially with tonight’s experience!

After a quick discussion of plans, we decided our first stop of the day would be Dolmabache Palace.  At some point in time, the Sultans decided that Topkapi just wasn’t doing it for them, so they needed to move into a more spectacular, more European palace.  Thus, in the 19th century, Dolmabache was created!

You definitely get a sense of the excess that eventually led the Turkish people to revolt, as three chandeliers weigh over one ton each and are made almost entirely of English crystal.  The biggest one is 4.5 tonnes.  Figure that out. 

The place is an exercise in marble, gold, crystal and fine carpets.  Even the Harem, which was pretty plain and simple at Topkapi, gets the “Palace Treatment”.  We weren’t allowed to snap pictures inside, but it’s worth having a Google online to see what it looks like.  Plus, you can’t beat the shore side location. 

From the more modern palace, we went to Istanbul Modern, also known as the modern art museum.  Really neat collection and, if I could think of one thing that stood out in comparison to other modern art museums I’ve seen, it would be the depth of female experience presented.  That sounds way too artsy for me.  I suppose the better way to say it would be that, in a secular country where Islam is the main religion, ideas of gender roles, stereotypes and sexuality aren’t as matter-of-fact as they are in Canada, so you see it represented a bit more often, and with some more vivid examples.

We were getting a little bit hangry (hungry + angry) as we left, so we hopped the tram to the Spice Bazaar so we could eat at the pide place we went to on our first big day and also pick up some honey balls.  Daina made a line back to the hotel, so I decided to use my Museum Card to check out the History of Islamic Science museum.  It was a quick but fascinating display and it’s interesting to see all the innovations that Islam brought to science in the fields of astronomy, mathematics and physics.  Things like star maps, boat mills, windmills and different looking types of catapults and crossbows.  Very neat.

I think I ended up back at the hotel a few minutes before Daina got here, at which point we both crashed out for a bit.  The order for the rest of the night is to go to one of the historic hammams for a Turkish bath experience and get packed for our flight to Ankara tomorrow.

This isn’t goodbye to Istanbul, as we will be back here for at least one more day together and I have one last day here solo at the end of my trip.  This city is an assault on all five senses at almost every moment, but I mean that in an amazing way.  It feels electric, a bit on edge, but ultimately manageable once you get around it a few times.  Plus, you’re almost always guaranteed a view of something fantastic right in front of you. 

If not, just walk five minutes.  You’ll find it.

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