One of the most interesting parts of the Topkapi Palace is the Harem. The word
harem means "sacred" or "set apart." It was in ths part of the palace that the
sultan had his apartment. The sultan could also have up to four wives and they all
lived in the harem.
All of the wives wanted their child to be the first son of the sultan because the
oldest male heir would become sultan upon his father's death. Therefore, much
effort was expended to protect the first son from the jealousy of the other wives
as well as possible assassination.
(If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Topkapi Palace, be aware that a separate
ticket has to be purchased to visit the Harem. Only a limited number of visitors are
allowed in the Harem on any day, so buy your ticket for the Harem tour as soon as you
arrive. The entrance to the Harem is in the second courtyard.)
This is the main gate into the
harem. The stone design on the
floor served a purpose. It provided
a rough surface so that the sultan's
horse would not slip when it was
ridden into the harem.
Life in the harem was cloaked in
secrecy - almost none of the
residents had the freedom to go
outside and almost no one from the
outside was ever admitted.