This guide to the palace of the Ottoman sultans in Istanbul takes the reader through all the rooms and gardens which are open to the public - and some that are not. It records the changes that the buildings have suffered through fire, earthquakes and the endless fight for space. Treasures, kaftans and furnishings are discussed as is food and drink.
We pass through the Middle Gate and leave the horses neighing behind us. We then enter the courts of the sultan, visiting his Harem, his Throne Room or the private gardens and kiosks of his secret world.
But above all, the book is about the thousands who lived in the saray and what they did and feared and saw, whether they were viziers, students or women. It is hoped that this will lead to a deeper understanding of this core of Ottoman life and that readers will meet the ghosts of the humblest and the grandest of the multiture: and, not least, that they will imagine the intense silence of the inner courts broken by the caged songbirds and the cry of the peacock.