Topkapi Palace Museum Istanbul: what to see, tickets, visiting tips

Topkapi Palace is the Ottoman Empire’s true essence and one of the richest museums in the world. The very ostentatious building of the palace is one of the most important visiting points of the Historic Peninsula today (together with world famous Hagia Sophia) and spreads over an area of 700 thousand square meters overlooking the Bosphorus. 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.

History of Topkapi Palace

Fatih Sultan Mehmet, fresh from his conquest of Constantinople, constructed Topkapı Saray as his primary house between 1460 and 1478. He envisioned it as a set of pavilions in four courtyards — a stone monument to his nomadic forefathers’ tent encampments. Mehmet’s Palace served as the administration center and housed a college for teaching officials and troops. While the administration relocated across the street to the Sublime Porte in the 16th century, Topkapi remained the Sultan’s residence until 1856, when Abdül Mecit I moved to Dolmabahce Palace.

What to expect from your visit?

You are able to experience and observe the magnificence, palace life, food culture and many other important features of the Ottoman Empire during your visit to the palace.

İstanbul Topkapi Palace Drone Above Aerial

Topkapi Palace consists of six main sections. These sections are Bab-i Humayun, Divan Square, Alay Square, Enderun Courtyard, Sofa-i Humayun, and Harem. Bab-i Humayun is , the Sultanate Gate, which is the most spectacular of the 8 gates of the Palace. Divan Square is known as the place where the state affairs and ceremonies were held.

Topkapi Palace is the world’s biggest and oldest surviving Palace and the repository of numerous artifacts. Among them is one of the world’s largest diamonds, the most precious Islamic relics, a map with the earliest portrayal of America, high-quality Chinese porcelain, rare Islamic gilded miniatures, and calligraphy examples from numerous Muslim Asian empires. The artifacts are a sight to behold.

In its literal translation, Topkapi Palace, or the Cannon Gate, was one of the grandest palaces of its age, and it served as the Ottoman empire’s political hub and centralized administration for 400 years.

Throughout this time, each of the 36 sultans built a separate portion or hall to the Palace, depending on their own preferences or the moment’s requirements. As a result, the Palace is a maze of structures centered on a number of courtyards secured by several gates, much like a “nesting doll.” As a result, it gradually evolved into a “city inside a city.” Between the 15th and 19th centuries, it was home to the Royal Family and hundreds of Imperial officials and employees.

Topkapi Palace istanbul Turkey

When you visit the Topkapi Palace, a classic example of an early modern Islamic palace with modest halls and compartments compared to palaces of the ancient era, such as the Dolmabahce, it will be challenging to realize that it once housed tens of thousands of people. Initially, there were roughly 700 – 800 occupants in the Palace, but throughout the ages, this number multiplied to 5,000 during regular days and nearly 10,000 during celebrations.

Among these, the Janissaries — Ottoman military formations – made up the majority of the populace stationed in the Palace’s first courtyard. It was surrounded by walls that were around 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) long.

The Palace used to have roughly 700,000 m2 of land during its founding years, but it now only has 80,000 m2 due to building developments on its grounds near the end.

Put on your air pods and explore the Seraglio Harem, the Ottoman Kitchen and Confectionery, the Audience Hall, and the Sultan’s Private Garden. When in Istanbul, Topkapi Palace is a must-see attraction for you if you’re interested in hearing unique legends and delving into the Palace’s mysteries.

Visiting Topkapi Palace Tips

– 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.

– 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.

Ticket Options

  • Combo Ticket-1 (includes Topkapi Palace + Hagia Irene): 320 TL
  • Combo Ticket-2 (includes Topkapi Palace + Hagia Irene + Harem): 420 TL

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.

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

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