Serving as a royal residence to the Ottoman Sultans for up to 400+ years, the Topkapi Palace Museum was seen as an achievement by the people of Turkey. Called “Topkapi”, meaning “Cannon Gate”, this Palace had been named so due to the large cannons placed outside its gate marking the victory of the Ottoman Sultans.
Operating as an educational and administrative center of the state, Topkapi Palace was one of the country’s most important places. A place with utmost historical significance, the Topkapi Palace lets anyone understand the originality of the Ottoman Empire of Turkey and its operations throughout the four magnificent centuries.
Most of the part of this large Palace is garden space with less occupancy of the interiors. The huge complex has contained several buildings, apartments, chambers, treasuries, and a beautiful garden. There were big gardens serving animals like lions and horses along with the Mesmer imperial flower garden. The infamous courtrooms, imperial treasury, and Harem are some best places to be explored in this marvelous museum.
You can arrive at the First Court after crossing the Ottoman Imperial Palace which serves as the largest courtyard of the Topaki palace museum. Some of the monuments of this first courtyard have been destroyed as this place contains only the former Imperial Mint, the church of Hagia Irene, and beautiful fountains.
The church of Hagia Irene is a Byzantine surviving architecture that came to be used as a storage house in the Ottoman times. This place is where the Janissaries lived and moved around in their best attire as it is also known as the “Court of Janissaries“ or the “Parade Court”. The Janissaries would leave this place parading through the Salutation gate, which leads to the second Court.
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Completed around the reign of Mehmed the conqueror, it got its best form during the rule of Suleiman the magnificent. This courtyard is surrounded by the hospital of the palace, bakery, janissary quarters, harem, and divan by the north and kitchens to the south.
The courtyard has been the place where Byzantine and Roman artifacts have been discovered and are still on the display. This courtyard would pet different beautiful peacocks and gazelles. The second courtyard also holds an underground mysterious Byzantine cistern. At the end lies the Gate of Felicity, marking the end of the second courtyard and entrance into the third court.
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The Harem is the place that accounts for its existence in almost every Islamic Empire as this place was the place of the kingdom’s women. Harem means “Forbidden” or “Private” as it was the place where no man except the Sultan could enter. Topkapi Place Harem contained the Sultan's private apartments and chambers along with 400 beautiful rooms.
The architecture of the Harem is Ottoman-Baroque Style and is decorated with enchanting windows and walls. This is the place where the Sultan Mother Valide Sultan along with the children of the kingdom would reside along with the Sultan’s consorts, wives, concubines, and favorites. This place was guarded by eunuchs and held various celebrations and performances for the Sultan.
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Entering through the Gate of Felicity from the second courtyard, the third courtyard is also known as the inner palace. The beautiful green garden is surrounded by important places such as the Harem and has Oda- the hall of the privy chamber, treasury, and library.
The third courtyard was home to the Agas, the page boys who would later become officials, trained in this courtyard for arts, painting, calligraphy, and music. This large courtyard also contains a miniature and portrait gallery, a mosque of Agas, a dormitory of Agas, and the infamous imperial treasury.
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Existing since the 1460s, the imperial treasury is one of the oldest places of the palace known as the Conqueror’s Pavillion. It has two floors with the lower one being the service rooms and the upper one containing 4 apartments. The imperial treasury was a place where the most valuable items of the Empire including the revenues from Egypt.
The imperial treasury held artworks, jewelry, heirlooms, and coins-money belonging to the Ottoman Empire taken care of by the trusted chief treasurer. The armor of Sultan Mustafa and the ebony throne of Sultan Murad is also there. One of the strangest highlights of the imperial treasury includes a music box with a gold elephant from India.
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Fourth Courtyard is also known as Imperial Sofa being the innermost private sanctuary of the royal family. This place contains a number of pavilions, beautiful gardens, and terraces. Fourth Courtyard contains the circumcision room, Yerevan Kiosk, Baghdad Kiosk, Iftar Kiosk, terrace Kiosk, grand kiosk, Tower of the head, stone throne, and a terrace Mosque. This is famous for containing the medicine kiosk built by Sultan Abdulmecit of Dolmabahce Palace along with the beautiful lush flowers in Tulip Garden.
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Topkapi Palace History Commenced to be made in 1459 by Mehmed the conqueror, Topkapi Palace served as residence to the Ottoman Royal Family and important government officials for 400+ years. This Palace is accounted for holding the Empire’s most important meetings, government affairs, state affairs, and official gatherings.
Topaki Palace remained a hub for such activities until the 19th century as it was replaced by the westernized Dolmabahce Palace. Then, in 1922, the Ottoman Monarchy was replaced by the Republic of Turkey leading to this palace turning into the Topkapi Palace museum under the orders of the Founder Father of the Nation Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924.
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Topkapi Palace is a huge complex that needs a lot of time for exploration as it contains large chambers, apartments, and gardens. The main Palace is divided into three sections- Inner Palace, Outer Palace, and the Harem.
Inner Palace of the place where official meetings and state government affairs would be held. Outer Palace contains enormous courtyards and enchanting gardens with large fountains, pools, and flourishing flowers. The Harem was the place where most women of the kingdom would reside including the Sultan’s consorts, concubines, wives, consorts, and favorites along with the Sultan’s mother and his children.
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Location: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.
Opening Time: Opening hours are from Wednesday to Monday 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM from November to March and 09:00 AM to 07:00 PM from April to October.
How to reach:* Here are the different ways to reach Topkapi Palace
By Car/Taxi: You can reach Topkapi Palace museum in 40 minutes by taking a taxi/cab from Istanbul Airport traveling a distance of 50 kilometers.* By Bus: You can complete the bus journey in an hour by walking 250 meters to Istanbul Havalimani and taking a bus to Sultanahmet to walk 400 meters to reach the Topkapi Palace museum.
Best Time To Visit:- The best time to visit would be between March-May, or September-November being the low-season/off-season witnessing fewer crowds and pleasant weather.