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1. Residents of the Harem

All Ottoman palaces had a harem and Topkapi Palace in Constantinople, modern day Istanbul, was the main residence of Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1856. The Sultan’s Imperial Harem occupied one of the sections of his private apartment and traditionally, apart from the eunuchs, men who did not belong to the family were strictly forbidden from entering the harem.

This institution constituted the private and prohibited space of the Ottoman dynasty and played an important social function within the Ottoman court and demonstrated considerable political authority in Ottoman affairs. It was home to the Sultan’s mother (Valide Sultan), the concubines and wives of the Sultan, the rest of his family including sisters, brothers, children, their servants as well as the Black Eunuchs who were the protectors of the harem. The size of Topkapi Harem is a testament to the fact that they required a large number of women attendants to serve the residents and a corps of eunuchs to oversee it.

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