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Topkapi Palace

From The Marmara Pera
17 Min
45 min
Address Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
Phone (0212) 512 04 80


9 AM to 6 PM

Exterior of Topkapi Palace

The Topkapı Palace, with its exceptional opulence, houses captivating history of the Ottoman Empire. Serving as the principal royal dwelling from its inception in the 1460s until the mid-19th century construction of the Dolmabahçe Palace, it has observed the presence of some of the most intriguing and dubious personalities of the Empire. 

During the 1800s, the New Palace was given the name 'Topkapı,' which translates to 'cannon gate.' However, prior to this, it was simply referred to as the New Palace. Commissioned by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1459 shortly after his conquest of Constantinople, the palace features four exquisite and private courtyards, a Harem, pavilions, lush gardens, and more. While renovations and expansions have been implemented since the 1460s, Mehmed's original design has been preserved throughout the years. 

Topkapı Palace, now a museum since 1924, provides a glimpse into the sumptuous lifestyles of 400 years of Ottoman sultans. The museum showcases the Imperial Harem, which formerly accommodated up to 300 concubines, along with the Treasury, where visitors can marvel at the renowned 86 carat Spoonmaker's Diamond and other resplendent jewels from the pinnacle of the Empire. The museum also houses a collection of Ottoman art and calligraphy, as well as opulent royal attire and other fascinating artifacts. 


History & Architecture of Topkapı Palace 

Topkapı Palace was constructed on a hilltop that overlooks the Golden Horn, the famous waterway that flows through Istanbul. Its construction aimed to enhance the natural landscape while simultaneously establishing a significant stronghold in the city. Construction commenced in 1459 and concluded either in 1465 or shortly after. One of the palace's distinguishing features was its asymmetrical architecture, which sloped down towards the water, giving it a distinctive appearance. 

Comprising of a network of buildings interconnected by courtyards and passages, the palace mainly consists of one or two-story structures adorned with Rococo embellishments and tiles. The palace is organized into four courts, each serving a distinct function: the first court, also the most extensive, serves as the entrance to the palace; the second court is utilized for official matters; the third court encompasses the Sultan's personal chambers and the harem; the fourth court, formerly considered an extension of the third, serves as an even more exclusive and intimate inner sanctuary. 

The Imperial Harem 

The Imperial Harem, situated in the most secluded part of Topkapı Palace, served as the dwelling place of enslaved foreign concubines under Ottoman rule. Essentially the family quarters, the Harem was governed by strict customs and kept private. Within the Harem's confines lie around 300 exquisitely adorned rooms, many of which are adorned with magnificent murals. 

Although a separate admission fee is necessary to explore the Imperial Harem of Topkapı Palace, the expense is definitely justified and worthwhile. 

The Treasury 

Enter the Imperial Treasury and marvel at the magnificence and opulence of the Ottoman Empire. The rooms, which formerly served as a reception area for the palace, showcase an array of precious stones such as rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and pearls. The Conqueror's Pavilion, one of the oldest structures within the palace, houses the treasury. Among its treasures are the Topkapı dagger, a jade bowl presented by Czar Nicholas II of Russia, various thrones, armor, and many other exquisite artifacts. 

How to Visit 

Topkapı Palace is not only rich in jewels, but also in history and architectural wonders. The palace boasts numerous libraries, chambers, splendid royal apartments, impressive gates, and lush gardens. With over four centuries of Ottoman wealth and power on display, it is an essential destination to visit in Istanbul. 

Topkapı Palace is operational from 9:00am to 4:45pm during the period of October 30 to April 15, and from 9:00am to 6:00pm from April 16 to October 29. It remains closed on Tuesdays and specific holidays. Bookings for tickets can be made here. 

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