Topkapi Palace is one of the most visited sights in Istanbul, as well as the richest museums in the world. The palace is a must-see destination for anyone interested in Turkish history and culture, offering a glimpse into the opulence and grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. The palace is located in the historic district of Sultanahmet, and visitors can explore its courtyards, gardens, and buildings for an unforgettable glimpse into Ottoman history and culture. You can find out necessary visiting information on Topkapi Palace Museum, one of the best museums in Istanbul with our useful guide with what to see, tickets, hours, fees.
Fast Facts about Topkapi Palace
- The palace covers an area of 700,000 square meters and has hundreds of rooms.
- The palace was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
- Topkapi Palace was the residence of the Ottoman sultans, their wives, concubines, and children, as well as the headquarters of the Ottoman Empire’s administration.
- The palace has four main courtyards, and the most famous one is the Second Court, which contains the palace’s most important buildings and structures, including the audience chamber, the treasury, and the harem.
- The palace’s Harem was home to the Sultan’s wives, concubines, and female slaves. It is one of the palace’s most visited sections and contains some of the palace’s most beautiful architecture and design.
- Topkapi Palace is home to one of the largest collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelain in the world, as well as Islamic calligraphy, illuminated manuscripts, and Ottoman miniatures.
- The palace is also home to several holy relics of the Muslim world, including the cloak of the Prophet Muhammad and the sword of the Caliph Uthman.
- The palace’s most famous attraction is the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, a 86-carat diamond that is one of the largest in the world.
History of Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace is a historic palace that was the main residence of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. The palace complex was constructed in the 15th century and served as the seat of the Ottoman Empire until the mid-19th century.
The palace was commissioned by Sultan Mehmed II, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror, in 1459 after the conquest of Constantinople. The palace was initially constructed as a small wooden palace, but it was later expanded and rebuilt in stone by subsequent sultans.
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Over the centuries, the palace grew to become a sprawling complex of buildings, courtyards, and gardens. The palace was not only the residence of the sultans and their families but also the center of the Ottoman government, housing administrative offices, schools, and even a hospital.
In addition to its importance as a center of government, Topkapi Palace also played a significant role in the cultural life of the Ottoman Empire. The palace was home to an extensive collection of art, manuscripts, and other treasures, many of which were acquired through conquest or as gifts from foreign rulers.
In the mid-19th century, the Ottoman Empire began to modernize, and the sultans moved their residence to the newly constructed Dolmabahce Palace. Topkapi Palace was converted into a museum in 1924, and today it is one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions.
Visitors can explore the palace’s many courtyards, gardens, and buildings, including the harem, the treasury, and the imperial kitchens. The palace also features numerous exhibits showcasing the palace’s art collection, including ceramics, textiles, and manuscripts.
What to expect from your visit?
A visit to Topkapi Palace promises an unforgettable experience with its rich history, stunning architecture, and vast collection of priceless artifacts. Visitors can expect to see the lavish imperial palace rooms, impressive courtyards and gardens, and important religious relics.
Inside the palace, visitors can explore the Harem, a collection of private living quarters and apartments for the sultan and his family. The Harem is home to several beautiful courtyards, elaborate rooms, and ornate baths that are a stunning example of Ottoman architecture.
Another must-see feature of Topkapi Palace is the Treasury, which houses an extensive collection of precious artifacts, including the Topkapi Dagger, the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, and the famous Emerald Dagger. The palace also features several sacred relics, including the Prophet Muhammad’s footprint, his sword, and the famous Kaaba key.
Visitors can also take a stroll through the palace’s lush courtyards and gardens, which offer stunning views of the city and the sea. Be sure to also visit the Imperial Council Hall, where the sultan conducted official state business, and the Imperial Sofa, where the sultan received his guests.
Visiting Topkapi Palace Tips
- Topkapi Palace is a large complex with multiple sections, so it’s important to plan your visit in advance. Check the opening hours and admission fees, and make sure to allow enough time to explore the different areas.
- You should buy a ticket for Topkapi Palace visit. You can buy ticket from the ticket window at the 1st courtyard of the palace, or buy it online. There are also guided tours with fast track entry. Just make sure the guides be authorized and have their badges.
- You should expect at least 2 to 3 hours to visit the palace. We recommend you visit Topkapi Palace before noon before the crowds begin to form.
- Hiring a guide can greatly enhance your visit, as they can provide you with a wealth of information about the history and significance of the palace. Many guides are also licensed by the government, so they can skip the long lines and take you to the most important parts of the palace.
- Topkapi Palace can get quite crowded, especially during peak tourist season. Visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon can help you avoid some of the crowds and make your visit more enjoyable.
- The Harem is one of the most fascinating parts of Topkapi Palace, but it’s often overlooked by visitors. Make sure to take the time to explore this section, as it provides a unique glimpse into the lives of the Ottoman sultans and their families.
- Topkapi Palace is a historic site and a symbol of Turkish culture and heritage. It’s important to be respectful of the palace and its artifacts, and to follow any rules and regulations that are in place to protect the site.
- You should be aware with pickpockets and keep your wallet safe. This is common in all world’s top tourist destinations. Also stay away from any people pretending to be a guide.
Hours and Fees
Topkapi Palace is open every day between 09:00-18:00, except Tuesdays. The palace is closed for visit on Tuesdays.
Top-Rated Topkapi Palace Tickets & Guided Tours
You can feel free to book one of these top selling fast track entry tickets and guided tours for Topkapi Palace Museum. They all have excellent traveler ratings. If you change your mind, you can also make free cancellation with a FULL REFUND up to 24 hours in advance.
Getting to Topkapi Palace Tips
Topkapi Palace is located in Sultanahmet neighborhood, which belongs to Fatih district. See on google map.
Tour Booking Advice
For those coming from Taksim, Galata or Besiktas areas, can take the Kabatas-Bagcilar T1 tram line passing through Kabatas, Karakoy, and get off at Sultanahmet stop.
For those on the Asian side of Istanbul, can take the ferry to Eminonu or take the Marmaray line from Uskudar and get off at the Sirkeci stop. And than you can take the Kabatas-Bagcilar tram line passing through Eminönü and Sirkeci stops, and get off at Sultanahmet stop.
Address: Cankurtaran Mah. Babi Humayun Cad. No: 1 Sultanahmet, Fatih
Tel: +90 212 512 04 80