Pavilion of the Holy Mantle

Across the garden, the queues inside the domed Pavilion of the Holy Mantle can be equally daunting, but this is still a holy place where many Muslims revere relics of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon Him) including teeth, hairs from his beard, and the impression of his footsteps.

Most important of all are the holy standard and a holy mantle that he had given to the poet Kaab bin Zuheyr and which passed down from him to the caliphs; the standard is encased in a silver casket and the mantle in a golden one which can only be viewed from afar through a window. These items were all brought from Egypt by Sultan Selim I after he conquered the country in 1517. Their presence inside the palace is a reminder that, as caliph, the sultan was also the head of the Islamic congregation worldwide.

Other items on display include the swords of the first four caliphs, Abu Bekr, Omar, Othman and Ali; (Peace be upon Them) a door from the mosque at Mecca; and beautiful silver-gilt-covered gutters, also from Mecca. Relics of equal interest to Christians include the rod of Moses, the sword of David, and pieces of the skull of St John the Baptist. Throughout the day the Koran is recited here, so a respectful attitude is appreciated.

The rooms in which these objects are displayed were once part of the Privy Chamber, the sultan’s private apartments. Later, Sultan Murad III moved into the harem to be closer to his family.

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