The opening of the exhibition “House of the Sultan: Topkapı Palace Imperial Harem,” organized by the Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate, took place on June 12, at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul.
Delivering the opening speech, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said the palace had proved an exceptional place for the Ottoman headquarters. “This place was the center of the empire from the 1500s. The sultan’s children, their mothers and future mothers, lived in unbelievable discipline and hierarchy here. One of the children even managed the empire as the Ottoman sultan. This place was like a school, and the objects displayed here show us this discipline and education.”
Günay said the government’s goal was to finish the restoration of all sections in the Topkapı Palace and to open those places to visits. “We have removed depots belonging to many ministries and other institutions. The most important of these were the military depots in the eastern part of the palace. We will not have to organize exhibitions in the Has Ahırlar section of the palace in one or two years, because we will have other venues for such things after the restoration process.”
Günay also said that the Topkapı Palace was home to the largest collection of Chinese porcelain in the world after China. “12,000 Chinese porcelains are waiting to be exhibited, and I hope that we will show them within a very short time,” he said.
Also participating in the opening were National Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Topkapı Palace Museum Director Professor İlber Ortaylı, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, as well as many other guests.
Personal belongings used in harem on display
In the opening ceremony, Ortaylı provided information about the Harem. “The Topkapı Palace was built by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. The first sultan to establish the harem was Kanuni Sultan Süleyman [the Magnificent], at the request of his wife Hürrem Sultan. It was a place where discipline was dominant. You will see the objects of people who lived in the harem and their handicrafts [in this exhibition].”
Ortaylı said they would also be preparing an international exhibition on Fatih Sultan Mehmet in the near future.
The current exhibition, displaying some 300 objects — including personal belongings used in the harem such as music instruments and jewelry – will remain open until Oct. 15.