Topkapı Palace - the most important information
Topkapı Palace (in Turkish Gate of Cannon) is a former sultan palace turned into a museum. It’s the most valuable and the most visited museum, not just in Istanbul, but in the whole of Turkey. This great palace collected some of the biggest treasures that keep the history of the Ottoman Empire. Topkapı Palace is located near Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, also iconic landmarks of Turkey, so you can make a nice tour visiting all of them in one day.
History of Topkapı Palace
Before becoming a museum, Topkapı Palace was a large complex used as the administrative center and residence of the imperial Ottoman court in the period between 1478 and 1856. It was built during the 1460s on top of the Byzantine ruins, by the order of Sultan Mehmed II. After Constantinople fell, this city became the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and this was the palace from which many sultans ruled. During their reign, the palace extended and became the residence of around 4.000 people. Stunning as it may sound, this information confirms how developed and large Topkapı Palace was.
After declaring the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the country’s first president, Kemal Atatürk, decided to make this palace a museum. Because of the political and religious views, he wanted to make it a place open for everyone to visit, and also to leave the Empire in the past. Topkapı Palace became a museum the next year, in 1924, it has remained so to this day.
What to see in Topkapı Palace?
This breathtaking palace once spread on an area of around 700.000 m2, and today that number is significantly lower, around 80.000 m2. It has 400 rooms, which consist of Harem, Turkish baths, rooms of the sultan, rooms of his servants, Janissaries, and many others. Since many sultans, around 30 of them, used this palace as their residence, they built it up on a huge space, making four courtyards and numerous buildings in different styles. If this seems too big for you, and don’t have time to visit all of the constructions within the palace, we recommend you not to miss the following attractions in Topkapı Palace:
- The Harem - This Turkish word harem means a forbidden place and for a good reason. This is the part of the palace where the sultan’s mother, wife, and concubines lived. It is actually a pretty big building, with 300 rooms, nine Turkish baths, and two mosques. In the past, only certain people could go inside, such as princes, the eunuchs, and of course, the Sultan. Fortunately, the Harem is now open for every visitor to admire the adornments inside rooms.
- The Circumcision Room at the Topkapi Palace - Even though the whole palace is adorned in colorful tiles and writings, this may be one of the most colorful rooms you’ll see.
- The Apartments of the Queen Mother at the Topkapi Palace - When in the Harem, which is generally large, don’t miss the chance to enter this room. It’s located in the center of the harem and it represents the place in the palace where Queen Mother, mother of Sultan spent the most time.
- The Treasury of the Topkapı Palace - Spread in four rooms of the palace, you can get the chance to see some of the most valuable treasures in the world! Many different things, from furniture, daggers, books, jewelry, you can see all the in just one place. They are all delicately ornamented with precious stones and have great value. You can expect to see gold candlesticks with amazing 6.666 diamonds, the Topkapı Emerald dagger, decorated with the most stunning emeralds.
Tickets and opening hours
Opening hours - The museum is open every day, except Tuesday, and its working hours depend on the season.
- Winter season (October 30th - April 15th): 9 am - 4.45 pm
- Summer season (April 15th - October 30th): 9 am - 6.45 pm
Ticket price - The regular ticket cost is 200 Turkish lira, which is around 15 euros. Even though is among the more expensive tickets, it is worth paying. Last tickets can be purchased 45 minutes before the closing of the museum.
How to get to Topkapı Palace?
- By bus: You can get to the Topkapi Palace taking one of the following buses: 28, 46Ç, 66, 75A, 99A, BN1. The palace is an 11-minute walk from the nearest bus stop in Faith.
- By metro: Take Istanbul's M2 metro from one of two terminals: Yenikapi Transfer Center or Haciosman. After an 800-meter long walk, you’ll get to the palace.
What should you know before visiting Topkapı Palace?
- Dress code - You will have to wear appropriate clothing, which means, shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops, or strapless clothing are not allowed. In case you don’t wear suitable clothes, the staff will provide them to you.
- There are no guided tours inside the palace, only audio guides.
Topkapı Palace trivia
- This palace is home to the fifth-biggest diamond in the entire world. You will find it in the Treasury of the Topkapı Palace.
- Even though we mentioned that at the time in the palace lived more than 4.000 people, during the festive days, it hosted an amazing number of 10.000 people.
- Around 300 concubines lived in the Harem, and besides the sultan and his family, here are allowed only eunuch, who were keepers of the Harem and concubines.
- Topkapı Palace was home to the Imperial Mint, a place of production of the gold and silver coins that served the whole Ottoman Empire.