Imagine what the Ottoman sultans' lives were like behind the massive gates of Istanbul's Topkapi Palace, a city within a city, with dozens of buildings whose walls are sheathed in patterns of intricately patterned tiles, surrounded by lavish gardens and pools. Step back in time to see the fabled hidden harem and areas used for only one purpose -- such as the courtyard of the eunuchs. The executioner's yard reminds us that this huge complex served as the administrative and ceremonial center of the far-flung Ottoman Empire for 400 years, housing the government, the state treasury, the mint, and the highest educational institution. It was also the private residence of the sultans and their families and was filled with priceless objects and furnishings, created in the palace workshops.
Serif Yenen offers this illustrated behind-the-scenes peek at a sumptuous bygone world strategically placed on a hill with commanding views of the Bosporus Sea. Yenen, a leading tour guide in Turkey, is the author of "Quick Guide Istanbul" and "Quick Guide Topkapi Palace" which are available for signing.