Topkapi Palace is among the most visited museums in Istanbul. You can find brief information about the history and architecture of the palace in this article. In addition, Topkapi Palace ticket price and opening hours are also noted.
You can also find a link at the end of the article where you can buy online tickets for Topkapi Palace in advance. If you get these recommended skip the line tickets, you can visit Topkapi Palace with a guided group tour.
Topkapi Palace is located in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. In Sultanahmet, which is a touristic center, there are many historical monuments besides the palace. Among these, we can count the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Topkapi Palace consists of four large courtyards and is the largest museum in Istanbul in terms of the area it covers. The palace, where 25 Ottoman sultans lived with their families, is identified with the history of the Ottoman Empire.
History of the Topkapi Palace
The history of Topkapi Palace goes back 400 years. When the Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453, there were two Byzantine palaces in the city. The one known as the Great Palace had been built by Emperor Constantine and was very old.
The Palace of Blachernae, where the late Byzantine Emperors lived, was outside the city center. The Palace of Blachernae was where the land walls of Constantinople met the Golden Horn.
Mehmed II, the first Ottoman sultan in Istanbul, first built a palace where Istanbul University is located today. However, he later admired the beauty of the first hill of Istanbul with seven hills.
This area, known as Seraglio Point in history, was also the place where Istanbul was founded as an ancient city in the 600s BC. This hill overlooked Istanbul like an eagle’s nest and was in a strategically perfect location.
The palace built on this hill was first called “New Palace”. Thus, the first Ottoman palace built near the Grand Bazaar became the “Old Palace”. Disgraced members of the Ottoman dynasty lived there.
The name of the New Palace gradually became Topkapi Palace because of the canons placed on both sides of the gate on the sea side. Ottoman sultans lived in Topkapı Palace between 1470 and 1856. In the 19th century, they moved to the modern Dolmabahce Palace.
Topkapi Palace Architecture
Topkapi Palace architecture reflects the origins of the Turks from Central Asia. The Turks, who migrated to the west since the Seljuk Empire period, continued their architectural traditions during the Seljuk and Ottoman empires.
Basically, there are two architectural periods in the Ottoman Empire. The first of these is the classical period when structures such as Topkapi Palace and Blue Mosque were built. The second is the modern period when Neo-classical and Baroque structures such as Dolmabahce Palace and Ortakoy Mosque were built.
There are four large courtyards in Topkapi Palace. The first of these courtyards serves as a park or entryway. The administrative buildings of the palace are located in the second courtyard. There is the Imperial Council named Divan-i Humayun here.
In the third garden, there is an imperial school named Enderun. The brightest young people of the Ottoman Empire were educated here. The future Grand Vizier (the second man of the state) was raised here.
There are summer pavilions in the fourth courtyard. In this courtyard, those living in the palace participated in various sports activities and the sultan watched them from these pavilions.
The palace has grown over the centuries and buildings reflecting the architectural styles of different periods were built inside. The last of these is the Mecidiye Pavilion located in the fourth courtyard. This structure was added to the palace in the 19th century.
Inside the palace is also the Harem, where the sultan and his family lived. However, in a normal palace visit, the location of the Harem is not noticed. However, if you buy a ticket for the Harem visit, you can enter through its door hidden in a corner and explore the Harem.
Interesting Facts About Topkapi Palace
In this part of the article I want to tell you some interesting facts about Topkapi Palace. After the TV series about Sultan Suleiman, interest in Topkapi Palace and Harem also increased. The series, which tells the love story of Suleiman and Hurrem, has reached millions of viewers around the world.
1. Harem Moved to Topkapı Palace Later
When Topkapi Palace was built by Mehmed II, it was designed as an office and training area. For this reason, there is no Harem in the original plan. During this period, the harem was located in the “Old Palace” I mentioned at the beginning of the article. However, during the Suleiman the Magnificent period, the Harem moved to Topkapi Palace. The relocation of the Harem took place at the request of Sultan Suleiman’s wife Hurrem Sultan (aka Roxelana). Hurrem Sultan was the most powerful woman in Ottoman history.
2. Different Architectural Styles Together
Some parts of the Topkapı Palace were destroyed by the fire and were later restored. However, the new decoration was made in the architectural style of that period. For this reason, it is possible to see two different architectural styles together in a room. You will see this most strikingly at the Divan-i Humayun (Imperial Council).
When you enter Imperial Council, you will first see the meeting room. The meeting room is decorated with classical Turkish-Islamic decoration as seen in the picture below. The most distinctive features of classical Turkish-Islamic architecture are tiles and pencil works. The tiles are generally blue as in the Blue Mosque.
Modern Ottoman architecture, on the other hand, includes European decoration elements. That is why traces of Baroque and Rococo styles can be seen in the second room of the Imperial Council. Painting art, which was not seen in the early periods of the Ottoman Empire under the influence of Islam, shows itself with impressionist paintings in the modern period.
The reason why two different periods are seen together in a room is the damage caused by the fire. The right part of the room was destroyed in the fire and was rebuilt in the modern period. While being restored, it has been adapted to the new architectural style.
3. Famous Diamond Was Found In Trash
The most interesting part of Topkapı Palace is of course the treasure rooms. Here you can see magnificent treasures such as Topkapi Dagger and Spoonmaker’s Diamond.
According to rumors, the diamond, the most precious treasure of the palace, was found in the garbage. It is called the Spoonmaker’s Diamond because the person who finds the diamond in the garbage thinks it is a shiny stone and trades it for three spoons.
The interesting story of the diamond is one of the most mysterious events in Ottoman history. At the end of this chain of events, the diamond was added to the Ottoman treasury.
Topkapi Dagger, the second most important piece of the treasure, was the subject of a 1964 Hollywood movie. In the movie, a group of thieves were trying to steal the dagger from Topkapi Palace.
Topkapi Palace Ticket Price 2021
Topkapi Palace ticket price is 200 Turkish Liras as of 2021. The entrance fee includes the Hagia Irene Museum. An extra fee of 100 TL is required to visit the Harem section. The museum pass Istanbul is valid at the entrance to the palace.
You can also buy a combined ticket that includes the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Irene Church and Harem Rooms for 285 Turkish Liras. This ticket also includes an audio guide.
Topkapi Palace Opening Hours 2021
Topkapi Palace opening hours are between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. Please also note that ticket offices close one hour before closing time. Topkapi Palace is closed to visitors on Tuesdays.
Depending on Covid-19 measures, there may be changes in the visiting hours of the museums in Istanbul. Before going to the museum, I recommend you to visit the official website of the palace and review the latest situation.
Topkapi Palace Guided Tour Tickets
There are long ticket lines at the entrance to Topkapi Palace during the spring, summer and autumn seasons. If you want to avoid this crowd, you can purchase online tickets for Topkapi Palace in advance.
Topkapi Palace guided tour tickets are slightly more expensive than standard tickets. However, it gives you fast track advantage. You can buy skip the line tickets for Topkapi Palace from this link.
Those who buy tickets for the palace in advance meet with their guides at the entrance and enter the palace as a group. Thus, they do not wait at the ticket office and travel with a guide.
Topkapi Palace Ticket Price 2021 by Serhat Engul