Welcome back! On the way to Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar, we have to visit Topkapi Palace. This massive kingdom was the Palace of Solemon the Magnificent, after the conquest of Istanbul by Mehmed the Conqueror at 1453. Construction for the Topkapi Palace was started at the year 1460 and completed in 1478. The palace was built upon a 700,000 square meter area on an Eastern Roman Acroplois. Topkapi Palace was the administrative, educational, and art center of the Empire for nearly 400 years since Mehmed the Conqueror until the thirty-first Sultan Abdulmecid. Solemon (not the biblical King Solomon) planned and built the city of Jerusalem from his residence here at the Topkapi Palace, but he never actually saw the results of his plans.
Huge grounds, outside section for subjects, by the park area, second section for diplomats, third section for family. The inner palace was reserved for personal family, but the sultan had access to all. Saw crown jewels, roman statues. Constantine developed the first church in 350 AD, made Christianity the main religion of Roman Empire, Christian persecution stopped, but Roman corruption came in. He rebuilt the city but never saw Jerusalem. Muslims came in and totally destroyed Jerusalem after Constantine. (More information can be found here.)
Fifth stop: Spice Market, a great marketing strategy here. Our team was given a presentation and we actual got to sample delicious Turkish delight (remember The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?), made from honey, pomegranate juice, and pistachio nuts. Of course, it resulted in purchasing Turkish delight with dried figs and apricots, saffron, rose and marigold teas.
Sixth stop: The Grand Bazaar, the largest and first indoor shopping mall in the world, including 4,000-plus stores. A gigantic main hall with lateral halls, lots of the same stuff, not much variety. Gaudy jewelry stores, leather purses, fashion clothes, and of course, souvenirs. The Grand Bazaar attracts between 250,000 to 400,000 visitors every day. It was commissioned by Mehmet11 (1444–1481) after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453 to provide financial recourses for the Hagia Sophia. Got approached by a guy selling leather jackets, told us it was his birthday—ha. We were hooked!
Enroute to our hotel we stopped at a very scenic panoramic view of the Black Sea. This is a vital waterway that looks over the Bosporus.
Don’t miss tomorrow: Israel, here we come—on our way to from Istanbul to Tel Aviv. We will see Mt. Carmel, Haifa, and Tiberias. So glad you are journeying with me.