About Topkapi Palace | Architecture, History, Facts & More
Plunge into the cultural and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman era, established in the 15th century - the Topkapi Palace. A must-visit location on your trip to Turkey, the palace is a royal depiction of the country's glory. With a wealth of history behind it, the beauty of the museum-turned-palace stands out in every manner from anything you’ve witnessed before. Beautiful paintings, prized ornaments, plush courtyards, the lavish Harem and more will have you hooked! Make your way to this palace as a standalone experience or combine it with a few other attractions in the city that we have curated for you.
Topkapi Palace - Quick Facts
What is Topkapi Palace?
Why is Topkapi Palace Famous?
- Get a warm welcome and a tinge of royal feelings as you pass through the famed Imperial Gate that the Sultans used as the main entrance.
- This UNESCO World Heritage site draws more than 3 million people every year for its rich architectural and cultural beauty.
- Venture into the Imperial Treasury that houses prized possessions, the armors of Sultan Mustafa III, and the weaponry the famous Topkapi Dagger.
- Marvel at miniature artworks that depict parts of religious texts, court scenes of various Sultans, and the very first map of the world that was made in 1513.
- The Imperial Harem was the center of the Sultan’s private life. With more than 400 rooms, it is a colossal structure in itself and deserves the admiration that it receives.
Who Built Topkapi Palace?
The Ottoman King Sultan Mehmed II first took control over Constantinople, which is now known as Istanbul, in 1453. Initially, he set up the court in the Old Palace and ordered the construction of the new palace in 1459. The initial construction of Topkapi Palace was completed by the year 1465.
Topkapi Palace Architecture
The Topkapi Palace adorns a beautiful Ottoman style of architecture that symbolizes great symmetric tastes. With lavish gardens, massive courtyards, flower gardens, and intricate marble works, it stands as a symbol of royalty, and power while leaving you in awe.
Brief History of Topkapi Palace
1453: Sultan Mehmed II takes over Constantinople, better known as Istanbul.
1459b Sultan Mehmed II ordered the construction of the ‘New Palace’, which is today the Topkapi Palace.
1465: Construction of the Palace is completed.
1509: Major renovations and expansions take place owing to damage from earthquakes.
1529: The second gate gets completed under the reign of Suleyman I.
1665: A big fire destroys major parts of the Palace; renovations commissioned.
1853: Marks the end of the Palace as a Royal Residence; Became the accommodation for ranked officers.
1924: Turned into a museum that attracts more than 3 million visitors today.
Topkapi Palace Collections
Housing some of the most coveted possessions of the Ottomans, the Treasury has artworks, jewelry, arms, and more. One can see the armor of Mustafa III, an emerald-clad gold dagger called the Topkapi Dagger, and the most astounding Spoonmaker’s Diamond among many other prized collections.
Arms and Weapons
Ottoman weapons from as far back as the 7th century can be seen in the palace. These include not just the ones made by the Ottomans but also the ones they brought from foreign lands. Umayyad and Abbasid sword examples, Persian armors, and helmets are among the 400+ weapons that are preserved.
A large portion of the porcelain artifacts present at Topkapi Palace is from Europe. Porcelains were often used as gifts among the royal clans and ranked officers. Having been huge patrons of porcelains from Chinese dynasties, very soon, the patronage changed in favor of European porcelains. You can see 5000 such pieces at Topkapi Palace.
Having in its possession more than 20,000 manuscripts, the New 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.
What’s Inside Topkapi Palace?
The biggest among all the courtyards is the first courtyard. With structures like the Imperial Mint and the Byzantine church Hagia Irene, this courtyard proves to be an area of rich interest. The ‘Gate of Salutation’ leads one from the first to the second courtyard and expounds the best influences of Byzantine architecture.
This courtyard is among the most significant ones of Topkapi Palace. In its premise are the Imperial Treasury, Imperial Council and the Gate of Felicity which exudes the grandeur of the Ottoman lifestyle and their legacy. One can also see the high walls of the palace kitchen which in itself is a structure of great significance.
The inner 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 the other beauties of the courtyard.
With more than 400 rooms, this region of the palace has some of the most private areas of the royal Topkapi Palace. The courtyard of the Queen Mother, luxurious baths of the King and the Queen Mother, and the privy chambers of many princes, are all part of the Harem. It is one of the most intricate and architecturally exquisite parts of Topkapi Palace.
Topkapi Palace a World Heritage Site
The significance of Topkapi Palace is owed to the rich history of more than 400 years of being the seat of Ottoman power. After turning 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.
Plan your visit to Topkapi Palace
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Frequently Asked Questions About Topkapi Palace
A. The Topkapi Palace is a museum in the city of Istanbul, which was once the Royal seat of the Ottomans.
A. 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 with a tour guide.
A. Yes, you will need to buy tickets to enter Topkapi Palace. Buy Topkapi Palace tickets online.
A. You can easily buy tickets to Topkapi Palace online. Book Topkapi Palace tickets here.
A. Topkapi Palace is significant for the rich archival information and relics from the medieval age. It once served as the primary residence and administration center for the Ottoman Empire. Today, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A. Being 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.
A. Topkapi Palace was first built in the year 1465.
A. Topkapi Palace is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey.
A. Topkapi Palace is open every day from 9 AM to 6 PM for the public, except on Tuesdays. The palace closes sooner (4:45 PM) in the winter months. Get detailed Topkapi Palace Timings.
A. Topkapi Palace is home to many important relics and ornaments and houses many examples of the beautiful Ottoman and Byzantine architecture. You can visit the Imperial Treasury, Imperial Council, Harem, mosques and beautiful gardens inside Topkapi Palace.
A. 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.
A. We recommend that you set aside at least 2 to 3 hours to tour Topkapi Palace.