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Topkapi Palace | Imperial Ottoman residence & administrative center

Explore Istanbul's Topkapi Palace, a 15th-century symbol of Ottoman splendor. Once home to sultans, it showcases the empire's wealth with jewelry, manuscripts, and artifacts. Admire its architecture, gardens, and Bosphorus views.

Founded On

1924

Founded By

Sultan Mehmed II

Quick information

RECOMMENDED DURATION

3 hours

VISITORS PER YEAR

3000000

NUMBER OF ENTRANCES

2

EXPECTED WAIT TIME - STANDARD

2+ hours (Peak), 30-60 mins (Off Peak)

EXPECTED WAIT TIME - SKIP THE LINE

30-60 mins (Peak), 0-30 mins (Off Peak)

UNESCO YEAR

1985

Plan your visit

Did you know?

Topkapi Palace has secret passageways that were used by the Ottoman Sultans to access different parts of the palace, including the harem and Hagia Sophia.

The Imperial Treasury or the Enderun Treasury of Topkapi Palace holds unique artifacts, like the thrones of various Ottoman Sultans, their suits of armour, centuries of weapons, and precious gemstones.

Topkapi Palace houses the legendary “Spoonmaker's Diamond,” one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, among its treasures.




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Topkapi Palace Museum & Harem Skip-the-Line Tickets with Audio Guide
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Guided Tour of Topkapi Palace Museum & Harem with Skip-the-Line Tickets
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Combo: Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Optional Topkapi Palace or Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets
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Combo: Topkapi Palace + Blue Mosque Guided Tours with Skip-the-Line Tickets
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2 hr.
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Brief history of Topkapi Palace 

In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople, renaming it Istanbul. Six years later, he initiated the construction of the 'New Palace,' now called Topkapi Palace, which was completed in 1465. Following earthquake damage in 1509, significant renovations and expansions were made. Suleyman I oversaw the completion of the second gate in 1529, enhancing the palace's grandeur. In 1665, a devastating fire prompted extensive renovations.

By 1853, the palace ceased functioning as a royal residence and instead was turned into accommodations for high-ranking officers. Finally, in 1924, Topkapi Palace underwent a transformative shift when it was converted into a museum encapsulating centuries of Ottoman history and cultural heritage. Today, it receives over 3 million visitors every year.

Who built Topkapi Palace?

In 1453, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II first took control over Constantinople, as Istanbul was historically known. Initially, he set up his court in the Old Palace and ordered the construction of the new palace in 1459. The construction of Topkapi Palace was completed by the year 1465.

Topkapi Palace architecture

Topkapi Palace

Originally built in the elegant Ottoman style of architecture, Topkapi Palace seamlessly blends various styles across its sprawling complex, including the Baroque style in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its lavish exteriors and interiors are heavily influenced by Ottoman, Persian, Islamic, and European designs, characterized by ornate and graceful domes, pointed arches, intricate marble and tilework, and elegant courtyards.

Noteworthy structures include the Imperial Council Chamber, exhibiting exquisite Iznik tiles, and the Harem, a labyrinth of opulent chambers. The Second Gate, completed during Suleyman I's reign, stands as a testament to Ottoman grandeur. The sprawling complex embodies the beauty of symmetry and the sophistication of Ottoman aesthetics.

Topkapi Palace highlights

Topkapi Palace

Imperial Treasury

Besides having great historical and monetary value, the Imperial Treasury at the Topkapi Palace Museum is a work of art. The treasury was initially kept safe in chests and cupboards that could only be opened by the Sultans, but Sultan Abdülmecid broke away from that tradition and put up a few items on display.

These items now form the basis of the Topkapi Palace Museum collection. It mainly includes gifts presented to the Sultans at their weddings, receptions, and birth and circumcision rituals of princes. The collection also includes gifts that were sent by the Sultans to foreign rulers but failed to reach their destination and were, therefore, returned. Local artisans would also present gifts to the Sultans in exchange for support.

Topkapi Palace

Arms and Weapons

After he conquered Constantinople, Sultan Mehmed II converted the Church of Hagia Eirene inside Topkapi Palace into an armory to store the arms and weapons used by the Ottoman army. The repair and maintenance of these weapons were also done at these armories, which were in service until the 19th century before they were converted into a museum. 

The collection of weapons at the Topkapi Palace Museum is one of the richest and most diverse in the world and spans 1,300 years. It comprises 52,000 weapons of various origins including Indian, Arab, Turkish, Persian, Mamluk, Abbasid, European, Japanese, Crimean Tartar, and Umayyad.

Topkapi Palace

European Porcelains

Once you’re inside Topkapi Palace Museum, you cannot miss the royal and extravagant European porcelain and glassware collection comprising plates, pitcher sets, basin sets, candy bowls, sherbet glasses, coffee cups and holders, carafes, chandeliers, and candelabra. You can also find a stunning collection of Bohemian glass and crystalware.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace Library

Having in its possession more than 20,000 manuscripts, the Topkapi Palace Library is a bank of rich history pertaining to the region. It contains some of the rarest books of history and literature, including fine examples of calligraphy, thousands of copies of the Quran, and much more. 

Topkapi Dagger

Made in the mid-18th century, this beautiful, curved dagger is sheathed in a 35 cm gold scabbard. Decked with three large Columbian emeralds on its handle, it is one of the biggest highlights of the Topkapi Palace Museum. The dagger, along with other valuable items, was meant to be a gift to Nadir Shah, the Shah of Iran at the time, from the embassy of Sultan Mahmud I. However, he was assassinated in 1747 before the gifts could reach him, after which the dagger was returned to Topkapi Palace.

Spoonmaker’s Diamond

This 86-karat diamond has a beautiful pear shape. It is quite large and weighs 17.2 g. Set in silver, the Spoonmaker’s Diamond is a sight to behold. But how it ended up in the Imperial Treasury of Topkapi Palace is still a mystery. While there is some evidence that Sultan Mehmet IV had a Spoonmaker’s Diamond in his possession, it was actually set in gold and much smaller in size (10-12g). There are many stories and theories that circulate around the diamond's origins, which have, over time, become a part of Turkish culture.

Sword of Osman

The Sword of Osman was a ceremonial weapon used in Ottoman enthronement ceremonies, symbolizing the authority of the Ottoman sultans. It was named after Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty. Adorned with intricate detailing, gold decorations, and precious stones, it reflects the skill of Ottoman craftsmen. It played a central role in the rituals associated with the transfer of power to new Ottoman rulers. Today, it is housed in the Imperial Treasury.

Prophet Mohammad's Cloak

Housed in the Sacred Relics Chamber of Topkapi Palace, Prophet Mohammad's Cloak is a revered Islamic artifact. Traditionally, the cloak was visited by the Sultan, his family, and the court during a ceremony on the fifteenth day of Ramadan each year. This annual event signifies the deep spiritual connection the Ottoman rulers maintained with the relic, emphasizing its significance in the religious and cultural practices of the empire.

What’s inside Topkapi palace?

Topkapi Palace

First Courtyard

The largest of the royal courtyards at Topkapi Palace is the first courtyard. With structures like the Imperial Mint and the Byzantine church Hagia Irene, this courtyard is an area of rich interest. The ‘Gate of Salutation’ leads from the first to the second courtyard and showcases some of the best influences of Byzantine architecture. 

Topkapi Palace

Second Courtyard

The Second Courtyard is among the most significant ones at Topkapi Palace. The Imperial Treasury, Imperial Council, and the Gate of Felicity are located here, exuding the grandeur of the Ottoman lifestyle and their legacy. One can also see the high walls of the palace kitchen, which is a structure of great significance. 

Topkapi Palace

Third Courtyard

The inner Third Courtyard was a little more privy with Agas who were taught different arts living in the area. It has the audience chamber which was the place where the king sat on a highly placed throne to address his audience. It is home to many libraries, mosques of the Agas, and miniature galleries among other beauties of the courtyard. 

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace harem

With more than 400 rooms, the Topkapi Palace harem has some of the most private areas of the royal residence. It houses the courtyard of the Queen Mother, the luxurious baths of the King and the Queen Mother, and the privy chambers of many princes. It is one of the most intricate and architecturally exquisite parts of the palace. 

Topkapi Palace a UNESCO world heritage site

The significance of Topkapi Palace is owed to its rich history of more than 400 years of being the capital of the Ottoman Empire and the seat of Ottoman power. After being converted into a museum in 1924, the artifacts and structures of the palace remain rare pieces of medieval history, and hence, UNESCO announced it as a World Heritage Site in 1985.

Frequently asked questions about Topkapi Palace

What is Topkapi Palace?

Topkapi Palace is a museum in the city of Istanbul, which was once the royal seat of the Ottoman Sultans.

Is Topkapi Palace open for visits?

Yes, Topkapi Palace is open for visits. You will have to buy a ticket to enter the palace and you can only explore the harem section with a tour guide. 

Do I need tickets to enter Topkapi Palace?

Yes, you will need to buy tickets to enter Topkapi Palace. You can buy your Topkapi Palace tickets online. 

Why is special about Topkapi Palace?

Topkapi Palace is significant for the rich archival information and relics from Istanbul's medieval age. It served as the primary residence of the Ottoman rulers and the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 400 years. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Why should I visit Topkapi Palace?

As one of the biggest palaces in the world, Topkapi Palace is the most visited museum in Turkey. It has an architecturally beautiful structure and is home to rare relics and key information on Turkey’s medieval history and culture.

When was Topkapi Palace built?

Topkapi Palace was first built in the year 1465.

Where is Topkapi Palace located?

Topkapi Palace is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. Find more information on directions to Topkapi Palace on our page.

What are the Topkapi Palace timings?

Topkapi Palace opening hours from 9 AM to 6 PM. The palace remains closed on Tuesdays

What can I see inside Topkapi Palace?

Topkapi Palace is home to many important relics and ornaments and houses many examples of beautiful Ottoman and Byzantine architecture. You can visit the Imperial Treasury, Imperial Council, harem, mosques, and beautiful gardens and pavilions inside Topkapi Palace. 

Is Topkapi Palace wheelchair accessible?

Yes, there is wheelchair access available at Topkapi Palace. However, some areas of the palace are not accessible by wheelchair. You will also have to bring your own wheelchair to the venue. 

How long does it take to tour Topkapi Palace?

We recommend that you set aside at least 2 to 3 hours to tour Topkapi Palace.