Inside Istanbul's Topkapi Palace and the Imperial Ottoman Harem with Tiago Neiva

Inside Istanbul's Topkapi Palace and the Imperial Ottoman Harem with Tiago Neiva


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The Ottoman Empire was one of the most powerful on earth from the fourteenth century to the early twentieth century. In its heyday, it controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa regions. Its external influence extended beyond the military and political domains, covering areas such as religion, culture, arts, and the world economy. The administrative center of power and the main residence of Sultans for almost 400 years, was the Topkapi's palace, located in the imperial Ottoman capital Constantinople (today Istanbul). This conversation will delve into the palace itself while placing this inspiring architectural complex in the larger historical narrative of the Ottoman Empire. There are few historical and architectural places in the world that are simultaneously as fascinating and captivating as they are repulsive and uncomfortable for the history they contain. The Topkapi Palace and in particular the Imperial Harem is one of them: a place of infinite wealth, luxury, glory, crime, and tragedy.

We’ll begin by exploring the structure and makeup of this huge palatine complex. We’ll discuss how it was formed by hundreds of divisions with multiple functions, organized hierarchically through successive and more intimate courtyards. Beyond the ‘Gate of Felicity’ was the ‘Third Courtyard’: this was the heart of the palace. Beyond this was the Harem, a series of buildings and structures connected through hallways and courtyards, where the Sultan, his family, and hundreds of concubines, eunuchs, and servants lived. It was precisely within this mysterious, obscure, and intimate universe, where the real center of Ottoman power was built, maintained or dissolved.

Led by an expert on Architecture and Art History, Tiago Miranda Neiva, this interactive seminar will explore the history of the Topkapi Palace and Ottoman society, highlighting the Imperial Harem through its palaces, characters, and events, that have led Ottoman rule and governance for centuries. This is a history that is highly relevant, although often hidden and forgotten. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a better understanding of the Ottoman models of governance and power, the role of the Harem, and particularly their women, set in one of the most fascinating scenarios in the world.

Tiago Miranda Neiva was born and raised in Lisbon. For several years he was Professor of Arts and Art History, having a Master's degree in Teaching of Visual Arts. He is currently working towards a PhD focused on the Art and Architecture of al-Andalus: the confluence between the Arab, Jewish and Christian medieval world. In recent years he has been working as a tour guide in his hometown, seeking to show and reveal its most intimate secrets through an authentic and passionate local vision.

This course is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 4 reviews
75%
(3)
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(0)
25%
(1)
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A
A.B.
Excellent presentation on an interesting topic
M
M.L.A.
C
C.G.M.
Uncover the little known facts of a Harem with an expert.
M
M.
Wonderful lecture and excellent documentation. Well structured.

Customer Reviews

Based on 4 reviews
75%
(3)
0%
(0)
25%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
A.B.
Excellent presentation on an interesting topic
M
M.L.A.
C
C.G.M.
Uncover the little known facts of a Harem with an expert.
M
M.
Wonderful lecture and excellent documentation. Well structured.