Celebrate Unesco's Year of Piri Reis in Istanbul

7th Oct 2013

Religious bookworms on city breaks to Istanbul have even more reason to visit Topkapi Palace as Unesco celebrates the 500th anniversary of an ancient world map.

This huge, ornate building is one of Istanbul's major cultural sites, having been the main residence of the Ottoman sultans for nearly four centuries (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign.

Today it is home to one of the world's most important collections of works on Islam.

The recently renovated Library of Manuscripts boasts 21,438 books, 18,622 of which are manuscripts, 2,816 rare prints and more than 10,000 miniature paintings.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism's facelift has centralised pieces previously scattered across 13 establishments under one roof.

Among the intriguing historical documents that can be viewed is the Piri Reis World Map, which is celebrating its 500th anniversary.

UNESCO is recognising this landmark by declaring 2013 The Year of Piri Reis, making it an even better time to visit.

But Topkapi Palace is much more than just a magnificent library.

Tourists will also enjoy the complex's fascinating harem, treasury and imperial gate.

In addition to once being a royal residence, the palace was also a venue for lavish state occasions and royal entertainments.

The palace, in its luxurious heyday, was home to as many as 4,000 people, covering a vast area with a long shoreline.

It featured mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and even a mint.

The palace is now a leading tourist attraction and contains key holy relics of the Muslim world and excellent examples of Ottoman architecture, huge collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armour and murals, besides a display of Ottoman treasures and jewellery.

The palace complex comprises four main courtyards and several smaller buildings.

Istanbul's other tourist treasures include museums, mosques, pavilions, fortresses, statues, monuments, towers, castles, seafood restaurants, Turkish baths and great shopping.

The Grand Bazaar, launched in 1461, is one of the world's oldest and biggest covered markets, while Nevizade Street, Nisantasi and Bebek provide the most vibrant of nightlife destinations.

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