Home of the Ottoman Emperor
Topkapı Palace Museum has been the magnificent witness of the history of Istanbul for centuries. Topkapı Palace, which was home to Ottoman sultans who had ruled a big part of the world for a while, is now a museum that keeps the magnificent memories of Sultans and their families. Topkapı Palace was ordered to be built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet the Conqueror) after the conquest of Istanbul. Sultan Mehmet has opened a new era in world history and Topkapı Palace has been proudly rising in a position that overlooks the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus since 1478.
Brief Information About Topkapı Palace
Topkapı Palace, the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire, has been the place where more than 4 thousand people were once hosted. Who had been here? Emperors, kings, commanders, ambassadors, merchants, clergy and countless more. The most important personalities of history from all corners of the world were greeted at Topkapı Palace when they visited Istanbul to appear before the Ottoman sultans. Topkapı Palace, which has a courtyard structure consisting of sections such as the Treasury Room, Harem and the Gate of Sultanate, has been the heart of the Ottoman Empire since the first time it was built. Topkapi palace is very big, very mysterious and very aesthetic building which definitely deserves a visit during your Istanbul trip.
Where is Topkapı Palace?
Topkapi palace; It was established on an area of 700,000 square meters where the Eastern Roman Acropolis at the tip of the historical Istanbul peninsula used to be. Palace is between the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. The building, which was converted into a museum after the foundation of the Republic, is located in the Cankurtaran neighbourhood of the Fatih district.
How to go to Topkapı Palace Museum?
You can use the tram to go to the Topkapı Palace Museum. You can get there by taking a short walk after getting on the trams with the code T1, which runs regularly between Kabataş and Bağcılar, at Gülhane or Sultanahmet stop. After touring the Topkapı Palace Museum, there are many other places to see in Sultanahmet Mosque, Gülhane, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market and Çemberlitaş.
History of Topkapı Palace
The history of the museum begins on April 3, 1924 but the history of the palace goes way back. Topkapı Palace, which was started to be built in 1460 after the Ottoman army under the command of Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered Istanbul in 1453, was completed in 1478 and the Ottoman administration, treasury moved here. It became an education and art center. Topkapı Palace, which hosted the Ottoman sultans until the middle of the 19th century, was later replaced by the Dolmabahçe Palace.
Today, Topkapı Palace Museum is one of the largest palace museums in the world, with approximately 300,000 archival documents, marvelous collections of weapons and equipments, and invaluable treasures such as the Kaşıkçı Diamond. Topkapı Palace, which needs constant maintenance due to its structure, occasionally undergoes restoration works; so some sections are closed to visitors from time to time. You can get all the current information through your licensed Turkish tour guide when you book your tour.
Who is the Architect of Topkapı Palace?
Topkapı Palace does not have a single architectural style. This complex building, designed by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, was built by the chief architect Alaüddin who was the most famous architect of the time. Later it was developed over time by works of architects such as Davud Ağa, Mimar Sinan, Sarkis Balyan and Acem Ali.
Topkapi palace consists of structures such as pavilion, mansion, mosque, sofa, government office, kitchen, ward, harem and garden within the seven-layered palace walls, three of which are in the port and four of them are on land. The architecture of Topkapı Palace is fascinating. Fatih Sultan Mehmet has gathered all the features of Turkish architecture in this structure.
Getting into the Topkapı Palace
Topkapı Palace Museum entrance fee varies according to the sections. You can view the related link for visitor information.
How Much is the Topkapı Palace Museum Entrance Fee?
Topkapı Palace Museum entrance fee (2020) was 100 Turkish Lira as I wrote this article. It may have changed over time, you confirm information from the official site of the museum. Information for Topkapı Palace Museum entrance fees are as follows:
- Topkapı Palace Museum entrance ticket: 100 Turkish Lira
- Harem and Zülüflü Baltacılar Ward entrance ticket: 70 Turkish Lira
- Hagia Irene entrance ticket: 60 Turkish Lira
Things to see in Topkapı Palace
The sections of Topkapı Palace consist of four courtyards and a harem with many interior structures. The palace, which is separated from the city by the land by Sur-ı Sultani (Sultan’s Walls) and by the sea, is shaped around the monumental entrance of the Sultanate Gate (Bab-ı Hümayun). The palace is divided into two main sections. The first one is the service department Birun; the other is Enderun, which covers internal organizational structures. It is possible to see the rarest examples of Ottoman architecture, art and crafts among all departments. The fine workmanship of the buildings shows itself especially in the Topkapı Palace ceramic tiles.
The First Courtyard
The Alay Square, which is the scene of the Sultan’s transition ceremonies, includes a church from the Byzantine era, Hagia Irene. The ceremonial entrance gate is the place where Ottoman and Western architecture blend. Babüsselam, and another ceremonial gate provide a transition to the first courtyard, Bab-ı Hümayun.
The Second Courtyard
Divan Square, surrounded by porticoes on four sides and used for ceremonies, festivities and ceremonies, Divan-ı Hümayun (Kubbealtı), where the government affairs were held, the Palace of Justice, the official treasury building are all here. The Zülüflü Baltacı Quarry where the people responsible for palace affairs stayed, royal stables, where the sultan’s selected horses were housed, the kitchens where the meals of the palace staff were prepared, the Babussade where the palace school is located are all in the second courtyard. In this section, there are two small-scale models of the palace and a large map showing the establishment and expansion of the Ottoman Empire. To the right of the courtyard is a collection of Treasure and sultan costumes, perhaps one of the most popular sections of the museum. Many interesting items include the 86-carat Khashoggi diamond (Kaşıkçı Elması), Topkapi Dagger, enormous emeralds, a few wooden items, large candlesticks made of pure gold.
The Third Courtyard
The Chamber of Supply, where foreign ambassadors met the sultan, III. Ahmet Library, Fatih Mansion, which Fatih Sultan Mehmet used as a cruise lodge, the Treasury Ward, directed by the treasurer responsible for the palace treasury, the royal room and the Sacred Relics Chamber where the sacred relics are still kept, the Ağalar Mosque, where the palace people used for worship, and the pantry where the meals were prepared for the sultan and the valuable kitchenware was stored. You can see the Ward, the Kuşhane, which provides access to the harem, and the Harem Gate and the Has Room Ward / Sultan Portraits portraits made for the staff of the Cardigan-i Saadet Department. You can see all of them by visiting the Enderun Courtyard (3rd courtyard), which covers the ‘’selamlık section’’ simply created for the Sultan.
The Fourth Courtyard
The fourth courtyard of the Topkapı Palace consists of a tulip garden and a terrace called Sofa-i Hümayun. The courtyard also covers the pavilions of the palace complex built towards the Golden Horn side in the mid 17th century. The Circumcision Room, also used by the Sultan as a summerhouse, the Revan Mansion built in the memory of the Revan conquered in the 17th century, the Bağdat Mansion built for the conquest of Baghdad, the Sofa Mansion where the meetings were held, Mecidiye Mansion, the last building added to the Topkapı Palace, the Hekimbaşı Room, where the physicians of the palace were accommodated, and the Esvap Room, where the sultan’s ceremonial clothes were kept are on the fourth courtyard.
Topkapı Palace Harem Section
The Harem section, one of the most popular parts of Topkapı Palace today, was the place where the sultan’s family and concubines lived. This building, also known as Hürrem Sultan Room, is one of the most aesthetic parts of Topkapı Palace. Harem, which means sacred place where not everyone is allowed to enter, is a tradition which Ottomans took from Arab culture. The Harem section was also the part where the palace aristocracy was formed by marrying the high level court officials of trained concubines, and by looking at this aspect, it can be understood how effective the harem was in the management of the palace. I should say to you, do not miss the Harem Room in the Topkapı Palace tour!
Hire Turkish Tour Guide for Topkapi Palace Museum
Topkapi Palace Museum is a ”must see” attraction for anyone visiting Istanbul. Palace is open every day of the week but Tuesdays. Palace can be visited between 09:00 – 16:00. I will be happy to host you in Istanbul and show you all the things Topkapi Palace Museum can offer. You can contact me to learn more about Topkapi Palace. You can write to me to hire professional licensed Turkish tour guide to Topkapi Palace. See you soon, Hasan Gülday.