greatest treasures of Topkapi Palace are the Holy Relics.
These relics, revered by the Islamic World, have a spiritual
value that defies estimate according to material criteria.
The boxes, cases and cloths in which the Holy Relics are
kept are each in themselves masterpieces. Some are made
of gold, some of silver, and they are decorated with diamonds,
rubies, and emeralds, dazzling to the eye.
The Holy Relics are kept in the Hirka-i Saadet section of
Topkapi Palace, as they have been for centuries, and can
be visited. It used to be called the Has (private) apartment,
and was one of the first buildings constructed by Sultan
Mehmet the Conqueror. It is an architectural masterpiece
with four domes, an exedra and decorated with tiles. It
was originally used as a conference room during the time
of the Conqueror; and became the Hirka-i Saadet Apartment
during the time of Yavuz Sultan Selim.
conquering Egypt the Sultan was given the title of Caliph,
and while preparing to return to Istanbul the Sherif of
Mecca sent his son Ebu Numey to Cairo to give the keys of
Mecca and Medina and some of the relics to the Sultan. Yavuz
was very pleased with this gesture of the Sherif of Mecca
and issued an edict proclaiming that the Sherif should be
left in his post. The Sultan returned to Istanbul with the
relics and put them in the Has Apartment and the Topkapi
Palace Treasury. Gradually a tradition grew up whereby visits
were made to the relics with special ceremonies. Because
the Hirka-i Saadet (cloak) of the Prophet Mohammad was among
them, the rooms where the relics were kept were renamed
after it. Today the Hirka-i Saadet is kept in a box made
of solid gold upon which verses from the Koran are inscribed.
This cloak is that which the Prophet Mohammad gave to the
poet Kaab. Kaab had originally been against Mohammad, but
later he repented and went secretly to Medina with a poem
in praise of Mohammad which he had written, and found his
way into the presence of the Prophet without revealing his
— O, Mohammad! Kaab son of Zuheyr repents his doings.
If he becomes a Moslem will you accept him? Upon receiving
a positive reply he said:
— I am Kaab, and proceeded to read the poem which
he had written. The Prophet was very pleased with the poem
and taking off his cloak he presented it to Kaab. After
Kaab's death his heirs sold the cloak to the-Emevi rulers
for twenty thousand drams of silver, and thus the cloak
was passed first to the Emevis aind then into the hands
of the Abbasis. Now it is among the relics which Sultan
Selim brought to Istanbul.
Among the Holy Relics are the swords of the Prophet, a letter
on parchment written by him called the 'Name-i Saadet’,
one of his seals made of cornelian stone, a piece of his
tooth which broke during the battle of Uhut, the sacred
banner of Mohammad, a hair from his beard, the swords of
Ebubekir, Omer, Osman and Ali, a copy of the Koran written
on gazelle skin which Osman was reading at his death, the
footprint of the Prophet in porphyry, the lock and keys
of the Kaabe in Mecca, two pieces from the cover of the
Kaabe, a water pipe from the Kaabe, the cover of the Hacer'ul-esvet
(the black stone in the Cubical House at Mecca) a gold light
fitting decorated with precious stones, lamps, prayer carpets
and many other valued objects.
The Hirka-i Saadet Apartment has recently been renovated
and opened to the public.