Istanbul Travel Guide

Topkapı Palace Museum

  • Topkapi Palace

  • Sign of the Sultan in Harem

  • Imperial carriage

  • The Pavilion of Iftariye

  • A section from Harem

  • Swords in the holly relics section

Topkapı Palace is administrative center of Ottoman Empire for approximately  400 years (1465-1856). The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. After the conquest of Constantinopole Mehmet the Conqueror started work on the Topkapı Palace  in 1459. In 18th century Topkapı Palace lost its importance. Finally Sultan Abdulmecid I. departed from Topkapı Palace to Dolmabahce. But  imperial treasury, the library, and the mint, were retained in the Topkapı Palace.Topkapı Palace was converted into a museum  in 1924.

First Courtyard
The First Court of the Palace is also known as the courtyard of the Jannissaries Court . During the reign of the Suleyman the Magnificent there were almost 10.000 Jannissaries here in this court.Rank in the corps degree of richness of the headgear. There is a collection of Ottoman costumes on display in the Imperial  Costume Collection at the Topkapi Palace. The First Courtyard contained purely functional structures and some royal ones, many of which don't exist today. The structures that remain are the former Imperial Mint, constructed in 1727, the church of Hagia Irene and various fountains.

Gate of Salutation
The Gate of Salutation is the entrance to the Second courtyard of Topkapı Palace.The large Gate of Salutation is also known as the Middle Gate. This crenelated gate has two large octagonal pointed towers. The Fountain of the Executioner is where the executioner purportedly washed his hands and sword after a decapitation.

Second Courtyard
Second Courtyard is also known as the Court of Divan. Becuase up until Imperial Counsil (Divan) met in the domed chambers in the left corner of the courtyard. Here the Grand Vezier and chief administrators of the empire met during the first four days of every week to deal with ongoing affairs of state.

Imperial carriages
Directly behind the Gate of Salutation, the imperial carriages are temporarily exhibited in the former outer stables and harness rooms. This is a relatively low building, altered in 1735 when a new ceiling was installed. Many carriages were destroyed in a fire in the previous stables in the late 19th century. The carriages on display are some of the sultan's carriages, including the state carriage, the carriage of the Valide Sultan (Queen Mother), and minor court carriages.

Palace Kitchens
Palace kitchens are a prominent feature of the palace. Some of the kitchens were first built in the 15th century.They were enlarged during the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent but burned down in 1574. The kitchens were remodeled and brought up to date according to the needs of the day by the court architect Sinan. The palace kitchens consist of 10 domed buildings. The kitchens included dormitories, baths and a mosque for the employees.Apart from exhibiting kitchen utensils, today the buildings contain a silver gifts and large collections of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain.

Imperial Treasury
The building where the arms and armour are exhibited was originally one of the palace treasuries. It was built at the end of the 15th century during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificient. This treasury was used to finance the administration of the state . Also located outside the treasury building is a target stone (Nişan Taşı), which is over two metres tall. This stone was erected in commemoration of a record rifle shot by Selim III in 18th century. It was brought to the palace in the 1930s.

Gate of Felicity
At the bottom of the second courtyard is Gate of Felicity opens into third Court, the sultan’s own private residential quarsters and the heart of Inner Palace. The Great gateway, which stood since the time of Fatih, was reconstructed in the 16 th century and redecorated in the rococo style in the 18th century. It was here that the Sultans received his subjects and heard their complaints on the eve of two important holidays; Festival of Sugar and the Festival of Sacrifice. Just inside of Gate of Felicity stands the Throne Room. It was here that the Sultan recieved ambassadors from abroad.

Third Courtyard
Beyond the Gate of Felicity is the Third Courtyard also called the Inner Palace, which is the heart of the palace, where the sultan spent his days outside the harem. The Buildings of the palace school for he pages is situated around the Third Court. The purpose of this institution was to prepare the future civil, religios and military leaders. Also in the Third Court Yard were the quarters for the White Eunuchs and the Aga, the teachers responsible for administration and discipline at the school.

Fourth Courtyard
The next destination of the tour is the Fourth Court also called the Tullip Garden with its terraces dotted with pavilions or kiosks. On the highest level in the southwest corner, a flight of strairs leads to L-shaped The Portorico of Columns. In the axis of the angel, there is a marble pool. On one side stands the Rivan Kiosk, which was built in 17th century. On the other side of the pool is Circumcision Room commisioned by Sultan Ibrahim in 17th century to celebrate the circumcision rites of his first son.

Harem occupied one of the sections of the private apartments of the sultan. Harem contained more than 400 rooms. The harem was home to the sultan's mother; the concubines and wives of the sultan; and the rest of his family, including children. The harem consists of a series of buildings and structures, connected through hallways and courtyards.

Useful Information for Topkapı Palace Museum

Address Sultanahmet, Fatih / ISTANBUL
Tel 0 (212) 512 04 80
Fax (0212) 528 59 91
Entrance fee Museum ticket: 30 TL. Harem ticket: 15 TL. Hagia Irene ticket: 20 TL.
Visiting hours Between November 1st - April 15th Museum, Harem and Hagia Irene can be visited between 9:00 AM - 4:45 PM. Between April 15th - November 1st Museum, Harem and Hagia Irene can be visited between 9:00 AM - 6:45 PM. Museum is open everyday except Tuesdays. In winter ticket booths close at 4:00 PM, in summer ticket booths close at 6:00 PM. Audio Guide can be hired at the Museum.Professional photos inside the museum and exhibiton halls needs permission from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Fast Facts Especially in summer seasons there is a long quee in front of the ticket office. And the other important thing to pay attantion is the commisioners. Commissioner is the art of empaling in itself. There are many plots in it from Dallas which is fromTV series. And when you get the headliners in a film, they are far superior than the actors who win the Oscar Award. Commision (Hanut) comes to mean shop in Armenian and commissioner is a worker who works in a specific shop. Usually their chases are square of Sultanahmet,Grand Bazaar, ticket office around the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern. Although they have low educational level, they know four or three language explicably and they are well-dressed. Naturally leaving good impression to your addressee is important. Firstly commissioners want to give direction and they start to deep conversation and they bring tourist to carpet store and this meeting finishes with offering tea. Eventually tourists buy whatever they want , they buy it with high price. Because there are commission for commissioner.