Liberal Arts Blog — Castles, Palaces, and Manor Houses (II): The Forbidden City, Alhambra, Topkapi
Liberal Arts Blog — Friday is the Joy of Art, Architecture, Design, Film, and All Things Visual Day
Today’s Topic — Castles, Palaces, and Manor Houses (II): The Forbidden City (Beijing), Alhambra (Granada), Topkapi (Istanbul)
Today, a few notes on three of the world’s great palaces. I have not yet had the good fortune to visit even one of them. If you have, please share your experiences, reflections, and photographs. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE FORBIDDEN CITY (BEIJING) — palace of 24 Emperors from 1420 to 1912
1. The largest palace in the world covering 180 acres and including 980 buildings with over 9000 rooms.
2. Constructed between 1400 and 1420, has been the home of 14 Emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and 10 of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912).
3. The Forbidden City is surrounded on three sides by Imperial Gardens.
NB: “Yellow is the color of the Emperor. Thus almost all roofs in the Forbidden City bear yellow glazed tiles….The main halls of the Outer and Inner courts are all arranged in groups of three — the shape of the Qian triagram, representing Heaven. The residences of the Inner Court on the other hand are arranged in groups of six — the shape of the Kun triagram, representing the Earth.”
THE ALHAMBRA (GRANADA) — “The Red One” — a palace for many Islamic and Christian rulers
1. “Originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 CE on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasr emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada.”
2. “After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition.”
3. In 1527 Charles I of Spain (later Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) began construction of a palace within the Alhambra, but it was never completed due to the second Morisco rebellion of 1568–1571. The Moriscos were the “nominally Catholic descendants of the Mudejares (Muslims under Castilian rule).”
3. “After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings occupied by squatters. Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who had conducted retaliatory destruction of the site. The rediscoverers were first British intellectuals and then other north European Romantic travelers.”
THE TOPKAPI PALACE (ISTANBUL) 1459–1924
1. In 1453, the 21 year old Ottoman Sultan Mehmed conquered Constantinople and just six years later he began construction of the Topkapi palace.
2. It was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1509 and the fire of 1665, but from the 18th century onward lost its status as the primary residence of the sultans who preferred their new palaces on the Bosporus. Topkapi was turned into a museum in 1924.
3. “The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. Female members of the Sultan’s family lived in the harem, and leading state officials, including the Grand Vizier, held meetings in the Imperial Council building.”
NB: The biggest surprise for me doing a little research for this post is that the Topkapi palace has a "Circumcision Room.” I had not realized that circumcision was a standard Muslim practice.
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