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Topkapi Palace

From The Marmara Suadiye
30 Min

Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul

Phone +90 (212) 512 04 80

9 AM to 6 PM


Topkapı Palace, with its exceptional opulence, harbors a trove of captivating history from the Ottoman Empire. Serving as the primary royal abode from its completion in the 1460s until the mid-19th century when the Dolmabahçe Palace was erected, it has been a spectator to the intriguing lives of some of the most flamboyant and controversial personalities of the Empire. 

In the 1800s, the New Palace was renamed 'Topkapı', which translates to 'cannon gate.' Initially commissioned by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1459, shortly after the capture of Constantinople, the palace was previously referred to as the New Palace. With four opulent private courtyards, a Harem, magnificent pavilions, lavish gardens, and other features, the palace has undergone various renovations and expansions over time, while still retaining Mehmed's original design from the 1460s. 

Topkapı Palace, which has been converted into a museum since 1924, offers a vivid portrayal of the lavish lifestyles of the Ottoman sultans over the span of 400 years. The museum houses various exhibits, including the Imperial Harem, which used to be the dwelling place of up to 300 concubines. Visitors can also feast their eyes on the Treasury, which showcases the iconic 86 carat Spoonmaker's Diamond, along with other sparkling jewels from the peak of the Empire. The museum's collection also boasts Ottoman art, calligraphy, and resplendent royal attire, among other fascinating artifacts. 


History & Architecture of Topkapı Palace 

Topkapı Palace, constructed atop the Golden Horn, the waterway flowing through Istanbul, was designed to highlight the natural scenery and establish a crucial stronghold within the city. Building commenced in 1459 and was finished around 1465 or slightly thereafter. The palace's asymmetrical architecture, which gracefully slopes down towards the water, distinguished it from other structures. 

Comprising a series of structures interconnected by courtyards and passages, Topkapı Palace mostly consists of one or two-story buildings adorned with Rococo embellishments and tiles. The palace is divided into four distinct courts, each serving a specific function. The first court, being the largest, serves as the main entrance to the palace, while the second court is designated for official business. The third court accommodates the Sultan's private chambers and the Harem, whereas the fourth court, previously considered an extension of the third, serves as a more secluded and private inner sanctum. 

The Imperial Harem 

The Imperial Harem, situated at the core of Topkapı Palace's most secluded areas, was the abode of enslaved foreign concubines under the Ottoman rule. Essentially the family quarters, the Harem was governed by strict tradition and utmost privacy. The Harem features approximately 300 finely adorned chambers, showcasing exquisite murals. 

Although a separate admission fee is necessary to explore the Imperial Harem of Topkapı Palace, the experience is definitely worth the cost. 

The Treasury 

Enter the Imperial Treasury to behold the grandeur and opulence of the Ottoman Empire. The halls of the Treasury, once a reception space for the palace, exhibit an array of precious gemstones such as rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and pearls. The Conqueror's Pavilion, one of the oldest remaining structures within the palace, houses the Treasury, which features notable treasures such as the Topkapı dagger, a jade bowl bestowed by Czar Nicholas II of Russia, several thrones, armor, and numerous other items. 

How to Visit 

Topkapı Palace offers much more than just a treasure trove of jewels - it boasts of libraries, numerous chambers, ornate royal apartments, grand gates, and lush gardens. With over four centuries of Ottoman riches and influence, it is a destination in Istanbul that must not be missed. 

The palace is accessible to visitors from 9:00am to 4:45pm between October 30 and April 15, and from 9:00am to 6:00pm from April 16 to October 29. However, it is closed on Tuesdays and on specific holidays. You can purchase tickets by following this link. 

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