Topkapi Palace Museum
Topkapi Palace Ticket Price, Opening Hours and Short History
First of all, Topkapi Palace is very important because of its location. Because the first city life in Istanbul began here. Istanbul was founded in 660 BC by a legendary man named Byzas. The ancient Greek acropolis, Byzantium, bearing the name of the leader, was precisely at this point.
The First Name Of Istanbul
As you can tell from this story, Istanbul’s first name was Byzantium. However, the name of the city has changed twice. The name of the city was Constantinople during the Roman and Byzantine periods and Istanbul during the Ottoman period.
Seraglio Point, on which Topkapı Palace was built, was an important area during all these times. While it was the heart of the city during the ancient Greek and Ottoman periods, it was an area where there were churches and monasteries during the Roman&Byzantine period.
The Ancient Columns Of the Palace
The ruins of the ancient Greek city Byzantium were used in the construction of new buildings both in the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. 336 columns, which you can see in the Basilica Cistern today, were recycled from pagan temples in the ancient city.
The Ottomans did not ignore the remaining columns from these beautiful temples. Some colorful columns that you will see while visiting the Topkapi Palace today were taken from the ruined temples in this area and reused.
Fast Track Topkapi Palace Tickets
The seven-month period from the beginning of April to the end of October is Istanbul’s high tourism season. During this time, there are long ticket lines in front of museums such as Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.
For this reason, I recommend that you buy a fast track ticket for Topkapi Palace. This ticket is a bit more expensive than the standard ticket of The Palace. On the other hand, you can avoid waiting for a long time at the ticket office.
Those who have skip-the-line tickets meet with their guides at the entrance gate and enter with the group. Thus, you can listen to the history of the 500-year-old Topkapi Palace from a professional tour guide. You can use this link to get a guided entrance ticket to Topkapı Palace.
Who Built Topkapi Palace & When It Was Built?
Topkapi Palace was built after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453. It was built by Mehmet II, the first Ottoman Sultan to set foot in Istanbul. The Sultan first built a palace near today’s Grand Bazaar and lived there during the construction of the Topkapi Palace.
After 17 years of construction, he moved to this New Palace, but did not bring the Harem with him. Topkapi Palace was originally built as the office and the private area of the Sultan. There was even a school called Enderun in which bureaucrats of the future were raised.
After 3 generations, Harem moved here during the reign of Sultan Suleiman. This decision was influenced by Hurrem Sultan (aka Roxelana), the wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
Topkapi Palace was used by 25 Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. It was abandoned in 1856 when Sultan Abdulmecid had the Dolmabahce Palace built.
Since the sacred relics remained in Topkapi Palace, the sultans came back here during the holy days. In addition, the coronation of the Sultans continued to be held traditionally in the Topkapi Palace. Therefore, the Topkapi Palace which was an ancestral heritage was preserved in the best way.
Why Ottomans Needed To Build A New Palace?
When Ottomans captured the Constantinople, it’s reported that Sultan Mehmed could not find what he had expected. Constantinople was known as the most civilized city of Medieval Ages. Yet, after the Sack Of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade (1204-1261) the city had been ruined and never really recovered again.
In the heart of Constantinople, the Byzantine capital, there was an epic palace called the Great Palace. However, this palace was devastated during the Latin occupation that lasted 57 years during the 4th Crusade. Although the Byzantines took the city back, they could not find the money to rebuild this palace. Therefore, they lived in the Palace of Blachernae, located on the shores of the Golden Horn.
When the Ottomans entered the city, Mehmed II first checked the status of the Hagia Sophia and the Great Palace. He must had been disappointed when he saw that the Great Palace was a ruin. For this reason, he decided to build a new palace in Seraglio Point, the most beautiful hill of the city. Hagia Sophia, again in poor condition, was restored and turned into a mosque.
Topkapi Palace Entrance Fee and Hours
Historic Journey from Topkapi Palace to Dolmabahce Palace
Topkapi Palace had been the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire which had vast lands on 3 continents for centuries. Famous sultans such as Mehmed the Conqueror, Selim the Resolute and Suleiman the Magnificent lived in this modest palace.
However the protocol rules of the world had changed by the 19th century. Sultans like Mahmud II and Abdulmecid who lived in the 1800s started the westernization movement. Ottoman sultans’ clothes and lifestyle were redesigned according to western fashion.
In this context, Dolmabahce Palace, a European palace, was built on the shores of the Bosphorus. In the last century of the Ottoman Empire, palaces such as Ciragan, Yildiz and Beylerbeyi were also built. However, the most original palace that reflects the origins of Turks dating back to Central Asia is still the Topkapı Palace.
Topkapi Palace Ticket Price 2020
Admission fee is 100 Turkish Lira for the entrance. This payment is for a standart palace visit which would probably take at least 2 hours. If you plan to see the Harem Rooms additional ticket costs 70 Turkish Lira. Istanbul Museum Pass is valid for this museum.
Skip The Line Topkapi Palace Tickets
There is an easy way to skip the long line in Topkapi Palace. You can consider buying skip the line tickets with guided tour. You may browse “Topkapi Palace Skip The Line Tour” from this link. Easy cancellation with a FULL REFUND up to 24 hours in advance.
Topkapi Palace Visiting Hours 2020
Topkapi Palace Museum is open to visitors between 09:00 in the morning and 18:45 in the evening between April 1 and October 1, the summer season. The Palace is closed at 16:45 in the winter season. Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays regardless of the summer and winter seasons.
Entrance times of museums in Istanbul may change depending on events or renovations. Before visiting the museum, I recommend you to visit the official website of the Topkapi Palace Museum and review the current situation.
December 2019 updated information: I couldn’t add the link because the official website of Topkapi Palace is under maintenance. Once the site is up and running, I will refer to it as a reliable source.