Topkapi Palace was the administrative seat of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was also the residence of the sultans during Ottoman times. A major landmark in the city of Istanbul the palace has now been converted into a museum and is open for the public to visit and see its many attractions. It is located in the Cankurtaran area on the European side of Istanbul. Though the palace has chambers numbering in the hundreds, only a few sections are open to visitors.
Topkapi Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is guarded and maintained by the Turkish Military and people from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This historic Ottoman-era palace complex is a must-visit in Istanbul. It is an iconic landmark in the city, popular with tourists.
The original name of the palace was ‘Yeni Saray’ meaning New Palace. The name Topkapi meaning ‘Cannon Gate’ only came about in the 19th century.
You can easily spend a few hours at the museum seeing its many attractions. The Topkapi Palace of Istanbul is also close to many of the city’s major tourist attractions. You can visit the Hagia Sofia and Grand Bazar. Hagia Sofia is only 3 minutes away if you walk. You can also visit the Istanbul Archeological Museum, Chamber of the Sacred Relics, and the Topkapi Harem from the museum. They are all close.
Topkapi Palace – Quick Facts
|Location||Cankurtaran, in the European section of Istanbul. It is close to the |
Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar
|Address||Cankurtaran Mh., 34122 Fatih/Istanbul|
|How to Reach||Tram Station: Gülhane|
Suburban Rail Station: Cankurtaran
Bus Station: Sarayburnu
|Open Times||30th October to 15th April – 9 AM to 4:45 PM|
16th April to October 29th – 9 AM to 6:45 PM
The museum is closed on Tuesdays
|Main Attractions||Harem, Weaponry, Porcelains, Treasury items|
The Palace Complex
The Topkapi Palace was built in 1459 just 6 years after the Ottomans made Istanbul their capital. The scale of the building is huge at 592,600 to 700,000 square meters.
- There are 4 courtyards
- A large harem
- Imperial Council chambers for the king’s ministers to carry out their royal duties
Over the centuries, the palace has been expanded and renovated many times. The palace also contained the royal library, the treasury, and the mint. After Turkey became a democracy in 1924, the palace was decreed to function as a museum. It is guarded by the Turkish Military and maintained by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Click this link to learn more about the history and layout of the palace, which is presently a museum.
Top 6 Attractions At The Topkapi Palace
1. The Hagia Irene Church – Dedicated to Saint Irene, the church is in the first courtyard after you enter the palace. The amazing fact about this church is that it was not converted to a mosque despite being inside the Palace. Today this building is used as a museum and concert hall.
2. The Gate of Salutation – The gate and its two guard towers were only used by the Sultans and members of the palace. Others could not enter through this gate. After walking in, you reach the Courtyard of the Divan. On the right of the courtyard are the royal kitchens where food was cooked daily for 10,000 people. You can browse through the stunning collection of porcelain and silverware here.
3. Divan – To the left of the courtyard is the Divan where the viziers (ministers) discussed state matters and welcomed foreign visitors. This area is now a grand display of the weaponry used by the Ottoman Turks.
4. The Harem – Entry to the Harem of the Sultan is through the Divan area. Females of the royal household lived here – the sultan’s wives, mother, daughters, and concubines.
5. The Gate of Felicity – This is the third gate. A person could only enter the area beyond this gate only with permission from the Sultan. You can walk through the hall where the Sultan received his ministers. A room behind this hall holds the clothes worn by the royals.
6. Royal Treasury – You can see some holy relics, diamonds, precious stones, the king’s thrones, and a jewel-encrusted dagger.
Plan Your Trip To The Palace
You can enter through the Imperial Gate, which leads into the Courtyard of Regiments. This gate was open to all subjects of the Ottoman Empire. The king would enter on horseback and all others would be on foot. You can see a park here and some ruins from the Byzantine period too.
- Buy your ticket online to avoid queues. Topkapi Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul.
- Tickets for the Hagia Irene and the Harem are separate from the museum ticket.
- You cannot enter the area containing the Holy Relics wearing shorts, miniskirts, tank tops, and strapless clothes.
- No infant strollers are allowed in the exhibition hall areas of the museum.
- Photography is not allowed in the museum.