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Topkapi Palace

From The Marmara Sisli
20 Min
1 hr 30 min
Address Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
Phone (0212) 512 04 80


9 AM to 6 PM

Exterior view of the topkapi palace with the tower

Nestled within its extraordinary opulence, the Topkapı Palace encapsulates a captivating tapestry of Ottoman Empire history. From its inception in the 1460s until the emergence of the Dolmabahçe Palace in the mid-19th century, this regal abode served as the primary residence for a plethora of intriguing and controversial figures, lending it an air of both vibrancy and intrigue. 

During the 1800s, the palace acquired the name 'Topkapı,' which translates to 'cannon gate.' Prior to that, it was referred to as the New Palace. The construction of this magnificent edifice was commissioned by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1459, shortly after his conquest of Constantinople. With its four splendid private courtyards, a Harem, pavilions, and enchanting gardens, the palace boasts an array of architectural delights. While renovations and expansions have taken place since the 1460s, Mehmed's original design has been carefully preserved over the years. 

The luxurious existence of 400 years of Ottoman sultans is vividly portrayed within the grandiose Topkapı Palace, which has been transformed into a museum since 1924. Within its walls, visitors can explore the Imperial Harem, which once housed an impressive number of 300 concubines. The Treasury holds a captivating display of treasures, including the renowned 86-carat Spoonmaker's Diamond, along with other dazzling jewels that symbolize the Empire's zenith. The museum's collection also encompasses Ottoman art, calligraphy, and elaborate regal attire, offering a glimpse into the opulence of the era. 


History & Architecture of Topkapı Palace 

Perched gracefully above the Golden Horn, the iconic waterway that winds its way through Istanbul, Topkapı Palace was strategically constructed to harmonize with the breathtaking natural surroundings while establishing a significant presence in the city. The construction of the palace commenced in 1459 and reached its completion around 1465, or perhaps slightly thereafter. Notably, the palace stood out with its distinctive asymmetrical design, gracefully descending towards the water's edge. 

Comprising a captivating ensemble of interconnected buildings, courtyards, and passageways, the palace primarily consists of one or two-story structures. Adorned with exquisite tiles and Rococo embellishments, its chambers and pavilions exude grandeur. The palace is intricately organized into four distinct courts, each serving a specific purpose: the first court, the largest, serves as the entrance to the palace; the second court is dedicated to official affairs; the third court encompasses the Sultan's private chambers and the harem; and the fourth court, initially considered part of the third, represents a more secluded inner sanctuary. 

The Imperial Harem 

Nestled within the innermost confines of Topkapı Palace, the Imperial Harem stood as the residence for enslaved foreign concubines under the rule of the Ottomans. Functioning as the family quarters, the Harem maintained a strict adherence to tradition and utmost privacy. With approximately 300 exquisitely adorned rooms, the Harem boasted magnificent murals that adorned its walls. 

To explore the Imperial Harem of Topkapı Palace, a separate ticket is necessary, yet the experience is undeniably worthwhile, justifying the cost. 

The Treasury 

Immerse yourself in the opulence and riches of the Ottoman Empire as you enter the Imperial Treasury. This grand space, once used as a reception area in the palace, showcases an exquisite collection of rubies, emeralds, diamonds, pearls, and other precious gems. Housed within the Conqueror's Pavilion, one of the palace's oldest structures, the treasury is home to remarkable treasures such as the renowned Topkapı dagger, a jade bowl presented by Czar Nicholas II of Russia, numerous thrones, armor, and an array of other fascinating artifacts. 

How to Visit 

The treasure trove of jewels at Topkapı Palace is just the beginning, as the palace also boasts libraries, numerous chambers, luxurious royal apartments, magnificent gates, and lush gardens. This captivating destination in Istanbul is an absolute must-visit, encompassing more than four centuries of Ottoman wealth and influence. The palace is closed on Tuesdays and specific holidays. To secure your tickets, you can make a booking here. 

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