HOLY RELICS

The 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.

The swords of Caliphs Omer and OsmanAfter 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 identity:

— 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.


 
 

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Topkapi Palace: An Illustrated Guide to Its Life and Personalities
Palace of Gold & Light: Treasures from the Topkapi, Istanbul
Topkapi: The Treasury
The Topkapi Saray Museum: Costumes, Embroideries and Other Textiles
The Topkapi Saray Museum: Carpets
The Topkapi Saray Museum: The Albums and Illustrated Manuscripts
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  Area: 5.712 kmĀ²
  Population: 7.309.190
  Topkapi Palace is 15 km from Ataturk Airport