Posts Tagged With: treasure


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Above is the kiosk to Topkapi Palace built by a later sultan who wanted to stop people before they approached the main gate of the palace. Here they could wash at the fountain, give their animals a drink or rest after a long journey.


DSC04689 (Copy) I’m calling it a kiosk, probably not the right term, but it is a beautiful building, beautifully carved overhang, with gorgeous tiles.  I guess nothing was too opulent for a Sultan.

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The main gate to the palace is inside of a courtyard filled with flowers and gardens. It is hard to imagine troops of the Sultan’s soldiers mustered in front of this opulent place, though in the old days, the walkways were not pure marble as seen here.


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And the overhang is embellished with gold not brass. The Topkapi Palace was built on top of and inside the walls of the Byzantines. When the Ottomans overran Constantinople they chose this same safe spot surrounded by the protection of the Marmara Sea, the Bosporus River and the Golden Horn. They had great difficult getting into this site which was considered unconquerable because Constantinople did its business with a great chain across the channel, forcing any would be conqueror to go a long way around and make their way across land, and across the river to get to them. But the Ottomans built skids of timbers and lifted their ships out of the water, slid them across the short end of the peninsula and landed inside the shipping channel to overtake the unconquerable city.

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Through the Royal Gate is a courtyard of surrounding buildings that was not only the home of Sultan Mehmed II, who built it in 1460-1478, but it was the seat of government where they held court, met with other leaders for state ceremonies, kept the royal treasure and relics, and did all the state’s business.


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Those treasures and relics are still here at Topkai today. The riches of this museum rival other great museums with priceless treasures. This is only one of 6 or 7 courtyards on the grounds, the only one open to the public. The Library, (under restoration was closed) the arms room, the reliquary, the grand treasures studded with unbelievable amounts of jewels and gold are awesome. A bowl that Jesus drank from, a piece of the real crucifixion cross and other Christian relics are here as well. Very biblical.

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You can buy a book with many pictures of the treasures, jewel-studded chairs, cradles, a bed and then smaller items like pots, scepters, bracelets, belts, armor of sorts. Armor and guns of high decoration from the armory have a separate building.  Portraits of the Sultan’s hang in the portrait room.

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Postcards of the two most famous pieces in the collection, the Topkapi dagger was made famous by a movie, called Topkapi, made in 1964, about thieves who tried to steal this treasure, and the Wooden Spoon Diamond, of 86 carats. It is so-called because a man was bringing a stone he knew to be a diamond to the Sultan as a gift. He was followed by thieves and before they got to him he flung the stone in the palace dump outside the gates. Later, a poor man found the stone and thought since it was in the palace dump it might be worth something. He exchanged it for four wooden spoons. The spoon maker took it to a jeweler who, like the spoon maker, recognized that it was an uncut diamond stone.  A website tells many tales about the diamond, but this is the one our guide told us and the tale the locals apparently consider the true tale of the diamond.

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The priceless blue tiles throughout the buildings are just as beautiful as those of the Blue Mosque.

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No pictures are allowed in the treasure rooms. But a huge book for sale showed the whiskers of a particular saint or sultan. I kept peering into the darkened glass cases and couldn’t see any whiskers. This book shows they were a few simple wiry hairs from a beard or head. A man (several, actually)  in the reliquary room sits and reads the koran aloud for 24 hours a day, endlessly.

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The sultan kept a harem of girls from the country side. Girls from age 6 to 12 were brought to the palace and placed in the harem to learn the language, to sew, embroider, dress hair and learn about perfumes and lotions, jewelry and the baths. Guarded by Eunichs, not all of them became concubines of the Sultan. Many were placed as wives with important men of his kingdom. Some concubines had children by the Sultan, and he could have many wives and could marry a concubine. He also had a tower where he listened to his court conduct business secretly behind a screen to make sure they were following his rules. They knew the screen was there and he could listen, so they adhered to the rules. The Sultan could order people to be executed and they placed the heads by the executioner’s fountain to drain away the blood and to show the people what happened when the Sultan was deceived.

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The only room we could photograph, was the Sultan’s meeting chamber where he held court for visitors to beseech him.  The people could ask favors and get problems solved by his superior judgement.  A building of great beauty, too, with the typical rotunda and arched ceilings.

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Such beauty takes your breath away.

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On the way out, Usla pointed out an ancient cistern that was recently found. They have yet to excavate and examine it more closely.

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Usla’s assistant, Owen would hold the umbrella for Usla. The umbrella was held aloft so all of us could see where he was walking. In the crowded Blue Mosque I followed the umbrella, only to find I had followed another guide with the same umbrella. The Grand Bazaar and more tomorrow.











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High stakes yard work is kind of an exaggeration. Difficult as it seems in this cool and rainy weather, I have to think about heat coming on while I’m gone. You can lose an expensive, mature shrub in a week in withering weather without an intact sprinkling system. My housemate and I checked the system and it needed two small repairs. The sprinkling clock works, and I can rest in peace when I return to the motor home, hopefully on April 15th. 

It’s killing me that Jim is having soooo much fun while I’m missing some great craft beers and the friendly folks of Vicksburg.

Brian, my computer guru is set to come tomorrow and help me out. This morning I’ll evaluate my insurance coverage before paying the bills and then attend an engagement party in the afternoon. Shoot, I haven’t been to an engagement party among friends in…?? (I’m not counting that extravagant engagement shower In Louisiana.)  I’m not sure what to expect. I know chocolate and cherries spell romance so I did put together a chocolate bouquet and a cherry surprise. These kids are 25 years old so I hope to toast them with this old saw:

Here is to Karli, may you always have diamonds on your fingers and knock-em-dead-destroy-the-paycheck-dresses to wear.

And to Danny, may you have an indestructible paycheck.

 Karli and Danny aren’t as materialistic as that toast suggests, but it always brings a laugh and they don’t read my blog. What I really like to impress on young people is the definition of treasure.

Before getting on-line this morning, I cruised through some old family photos and put on slideshows of my grandkids at an earlier age. What a pleasure my pictures are to me. A keen reminder that real treasure is our family and friends. 

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Margot Schneider is 89 years old. She and her husband Horst came out of Germany after WWII with three kids and 17 cents in his pocket. Margot is nearly deaf and Horst is nearly blind. “Well, between the two of us, we are a whole person.” she jokes. Margot says their philosophy of life is “Do no harm to yourself, to others, or to any living thing.” Margot has a special gift with animals and birds. They seem to recognize immediately she will never hurt them.

Horst, at 92, has magnifying glasses all over the house. He uses a computer program called Dragon made by Nuance. It recognizes his voice and types for him. Then it has a reader to read it back to him to make sure he didn’t get misunderstood and typed in loose for juice, or some such. Horst is currently writing a book, and has approximately 200 poems and small short stories on his web site. (He used to build websites for companies at one time.)
He got his start in America by working as a mail-sorter for an insurance company. Before a year had passed, he was working in their accounting department.

He is a self taught computer programmer and built a program for Margot’s knitting business. They had five knitting machines that he programmed for specific garments that she sold. Now, she knits beautiful sweaters, vests and scarves for her grand kids and great grand kids by hand.  Horst has met and worked with some of the famous programmers from Apple and Microsoft. He has technical articles published that are now out of date because technology changes so quickly.

Last year, Margot fell and broke her neck. So, at 92, he learned to cook. Not hamburgers or hot dogs. He likes gourmet food and prepares boef bourgignon, French onion soup and chicken stroganoff plus German specialties they like. Now that her neck is healed, she says, “Let him cook. Its his turn.” Nothing daunts them.

When he was in his eighties, he and Margot volunteered at a State Park. Their finances took a hit and he was looking for work and had applied at Hotels and places where his ability to speak five languages would be of help. “But, they hired young blondes,” he jokes. He was about to take a job as a dishwasher at $5.15 per hour, when the Park Rangers came to him and said they wanted him to take on a ranger’s position.
“A Ranger,” he protested, “I’m too old for that.”  But, it worked for everyone. He translated all of their literature and brochures into Russian and German versions. He taught rocketry to young kids and park biology to others.
Jim wanted to visit one more time with them before they move to Louisiana. (Their house in on the market.) They inspire everyone who meets them. They are the treasure, because they inspire and challenge us to live fully with verve and dignity.

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