Undoubtedly, Topkapi Palace is one of Istanbul's most visited tourist attractions. Before Sultan Abdülmecid decided to transfer the court to the Dolmabahçe Palace in 1853, it was the centre of the Ottoman Empire and housed its sultans and the ladies in their harem for almost three centuries. This famous tourist attraction is a must-see while in Istanbul and is a sight to behold. To ensure that you get the best tickets and make the most of your time there, we have put together the ideal guide.
Essential Information for Visiting Topkapi Palace
Things to know
Number of visitors per year: 3 million
Architect: Sultan Mehmed II
Architectural style: Ottoman and Baroque styles
Opening Hours And Address
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Tuesdays
Address : Cankurtaran Mahallesi Gulhane Park Near Sultanahmet Square 34122/Istanbul
Why You Must Visit Topkapi Palace
A tour of the Topkapi Palace is unquestionably fascinating! Every area of the Palace complex has a unique history to share. It is highly recommended that you visit the displays, which feature some of the most incredible items from the Ottoman empire. You can view all of this and discover a ton of information about the Imperial Ottoman empire with Topkapi Palace tour tickets. Your tour tickets include the choice to skip the line, which will allow you to enter the Palace and spare you from the never-ending lines at the gate.
A palace as stunning as the Topkapi Palace must be in a setting that is just as stunning! The magnificent blue waters of the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus strait are seen from the Topkapi Palace, which is situated on Sarayburnu or Seraglio Point. You will be able to see the Topkapi Palace in all its splendor and magnificence during your visit .
Recommended Topkapi Palace Tickets
Your preference for Topkapi Palace tickets will depend on the type of experience you want.
Skip the line Topkapi Palace tickets are the best if you’re on a schedule.
If you want a relaxing and educational experience, you can also choose to purchase tickets for a guided tour. Access to Topkapi Palace is also provided by the convenient Istanbul City Pass.
Topkapi Palace's History
Up until the middle of the 19th century, the palace, which Fatih Sultan Mehmet constructed between 1460 and 1478 and later added to, served as the hub of government and life. Dolmabahçe Palace was constructed at the beginning of the 1850s as a result of the present palace's inability to comply with 19th-century official etiquette standards. After some time, the dynasty's life and administrative centre were totally relocated to Dolmabahçe Palace.
On April 3, 1924, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk issued an order to convert Topkapi Palace into a museum following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922. It is situated on the 7,00,000 square metres region between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus on the peninsula of Istanbul. In the past, many uses included management, education, and the arts. Not just in the past, but also today, the Topkapi Palace retains its historical significance.
Following the declaration of the Republic of Turkey on April 3, 1924, Topkapi Palace was put to use as a museum. Being the first museum of the Turkish Republic was another significant aspect of the Topkapi Palace.
Topkapi Palace's Unique Architecture
A stunning example of Ottoman construction that exhibits superb symmetry is the Topkapi Palace. With its opulent gardens, expansive courtyards, flower gardens, and exquisite marble work, it inspires awe and serves as an emblem of royalty and grandeur. Sultan Mehmed II (Al-Fatih) planned to build a palace to house the Ottoman government and royal household six years after he seized Constantinople. The building process started in 1459 and continued throughout his reign. The palace was transformed into a complex with several structures, courtyards, as well as gardens.
The traditional Muslim love of nature and the metaphorical meaning associated with the goal for gardens of paradise are reflected in gardens with geometrical designs of flower & vegetable plots mixed with fountains and ponds. Although the Ottomans, particularly under the Nasrid dynasty, did not match Andalusian Spain's massive landscaping, the Topkapi Palace exhibits a significant talent and royal interest in it. The royal complex is covered in terrace gardens, particularly along the shoreline where they are arranged in rows of cypress trees.
Successive Ottoman tyrants made several additions, changes, and expansions to the palace. The complex is currently divided into four courtyards and comprises mostly of three building groupings.
Topkapi Palace Highlights
Upon entering the First Courtyard, also known as the "Court of Janissaries" or the "Parade Court," on your Topkapi Palace tour as you pass through the Imperial Gate. You may actually still see some remnants of the calligraphers', carpenters', designers', and other guilds' workshops if you look about. The First Courtyard's architectural designs and ornamentation serve as a model for the styles and ornamentation used throughout the Palace.
The Second Courtyard, also known as "Divan Square," is reached by the Middle Gate. It's encircled by the kitchen on the left and the confectioneries on the right, giving it a park-like atmosphere. The elaborate Imperial Council Chambers, where questions of state were addressed, are to the left of the courtyard. The clocks from the Palace collection are shown in the room to the right of the Council Chambers, and the exterior armoury, which features European and Ottoman weapons and armour, is located to the north of the arena.
The entrance to the Harem is below the Tower of Justice. Visit this region if you wish to see a peek of the Sultan's and his family's opulent lifestyle. The Sultan's family's residence was in the Harem, which also served as the Sultan's private headquarters in the 16th century. The Dome with Cupboards, the Hall with a Fountain, the Salon of the Valide Sultan or the Queen Mother, the Privy Chamber of Murat III, and the Twin Apartments of the Crown Prince are a few of the Harem's attractions.
The Third Courtyard is reached by the Canopied Gate of Felicity. The Sultan's private apartment was here before he moved his quarters to the Harem in the sixteenth century. The Prophet Mohammad's mantle, sword, and bow are kept at the Chamber of Holy Relics, a repository for Islamic artefacts. The Dormitory of Privy Chambers features portraits of previous Sultans on its walls, and the Dormitory of Campaigners displays clothing from the Ottoman era. In fact, the Third Courtyard is the part of the Topkapi Palace that best displays the Ottoman Empire's wealth in all its splendour.
The fourth courtyard, which has tiered gardens and leisure pavilions, is connected to the third courtyard. While you tour the neighbourhood, the gorgeous tulips in the gardens here wave majestically in the air and entice you with their delightful aroma. The Iftariye Kameriyesi, a charming, gilt-bronze Iftar pergola that the Sultans used to break their Ramzan fast in the summer, is located in the fourth courtyard. The Circumcision Chamber, Yerevan Pavilion, and Baghdad Pavilion are additional pavilions that enclose the Fourth Courtyard of the Topkapi Palace.
Topkapi Palace Museum
Topkapi Palace Museum, also known by its Turkish name Topkapi Saray Müzesi, is an Istanbul museum that houses a sizable library and houses the imperial collections of the Ottoman Empire. It is located in a palace that held the imperial Ottoman court's home as well as administrative hub from roughly 1478 until 1856. It became a museum in 1924, the year the Republic of Turkey was founded. The Topkapi Palace Museum is renowned for its architecture, collections, and remembrance of the culture and history of the Ottoman Empire in addition to its architectural style and archives.
Best Time to Visit Topkapi Palace
At Topkapi Palace, there are frequently huge lines and a lot of visitors, notably on Fridays and Wednesdays. Late afternoons also saw heavier crowds at the palace, which begin to thin out around 3 o'clock. So, to avoid the crowds, either you arrive a bit early in the morning or late in the day.
Visit the palace between the months of September and November and from March to May. Even though this isn't the busiest season, the weather in Istanbul is still very decent at this time. In these months, accommodations are likewise reasonably priced.
Topkapi Palace Opening Hours
The Topkapi Palace is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm from April 16 through October 29 during summer. Winter hours at the Topkapi Palace from October 30 to April 15 are from 9 am to 4:45 pm.
The Topkapi Palace is open every day except for Tuesdays, so schedule your guided tour of the palace accordingly.
Topkapi Palace - How To Reach
- By Bus:
Take the bus 28T, 30D, 46Ç, 47E, 99A, BN1 or EM1 and get down at either the Akbıyık or Sarayburnu stations. Akbıyık is an 11-minute walk to the Place and Sarayburnu is a 20-minute walk.
- By Car:
You can drive your own vehicle to the Topkapi Palace. However, the Topkapi Palace Complex does not have any parking spaces. Both the Sports Car Park and Otopark offer parking, and both are a 10-minute walk from the Palace.
- By Tram:
The most practical way to get to the Topkapi Palace is by using the public transportation system T1 or Tram 1. The closest tram stops are Gülhane Istasyonu and Sultanahmet. The Sultanahmet station is 11 minutes' walk from the Palace, while Gülhane istasyonu is 9 minutes' walk away.
- By Train:
The Marmaray Sirkeci stasyonu is a 15-minute walk from the Topkapi Palace and is the closest train station. Topkapi Palace can be reached by trains on the Marmaray or Atakoy-Pendik lines.
- By Taxi: You can directly take a taxi to the Topkapi Palace.
Restaurants Near Topkapi Palace
Peninsula Teras Restaurant, brings together the distinguished examples of Turkish and World cuisine with you, and offers you the most beautiful tables by combining them with its breathtaking view.
Okan Akkaş, the son of Ali Akkaş, who has left his mark on Turkish culinary history as one of the important figures who changed the kebab restaurant culture, offers an experience that will bring those who want to have a modern fireside experience to the top at the Historical Grifin Han in Karaköy. Ali Ocakbaşı Karaköy invites you to a special experience with its quality line, terrace bar, stylish atmosphere but most importantly with its meat, kebab and offal varieties that will remain on your palate.
Gar Pub & Restaurant, which has the title of the best known sports bar and kebab shop of Sirkeci, has been serving both foreign and domestic customers for 20 years with a sports bar on the ground floor and a traditional tavern concept on the upper floor.
This restaurant appeals to every palate with its menu, which offers a rich content from Mediterranean mezes to Hatay cuisine, from meat cooked like Turkish delight to fresh fish. You can also take advantage of the fixed menu for individual or business bulk reservations.
Topkapi Palace Facts That Will Leave You In Awe
- For around 400 of their 624-year rule, the Ottoman sultans lived primarily at the Topkapi Palace.
- Topkapi is the biggest and oldest palace still standing in the contemporary era.
- The palace served as the Ottoman Empire's brain, heart, and centre. It served as the sultan's home as well as the administrative hub and top educational institution of the empire.
- The palace typically had 5,000 occupants, but during festivals, this number may treble.
- The palace was constructed on the same site where the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Byzantium stood, and it is situated right behind Hagia Sophia.
- Up until 1967, the Imperial Mint, which was housed in Topkapi Palace, manufactured both Ottoman and later Turkish Republic coins.
- There could have been 300 concubines living in the palace's harem.
- Initially, white eunuchs served as the harem's watchdogs, but later, black eunuchs that the Ottoman governor of Egypt gave as gifts gained charge. There could have been 200 eunuchs living there.
- The palace's 1,000-person cooking crew produced 6,000 meals each day.
- Topkapi lost significance as the designated royal residence when the sultans relocated to the Dolmabahce Palace in 1853. Ataturk ordered its conversion into a museum in 1924.
Insider Tips for Visiting Topkapi Palace
- People with limited mobility can visit the Topkapi Palace. However, the Palace does not have any wheelchairs.
- Entry to the Topkapi Palace is free for children under the age of six.
- Free admission to the Palace is also given to tourists with disabilities and their companion, who must be a first-degree relative.
- It is advised to use an audio guide or a private guide when touring the Topkapi Palace.
- Any of the Palace's halls are off-limits to photography.
- Wear suitable walking shoes for your Topkapi Palace guided tour since you will be walking a lot.
- Make careful to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees when visiting the Topkapi Palace.
- The Fourth Courtyard's Holy Relics Chamber is off-limits to visitors who are dressed in shorts, skirts, sleeveless, or strapless attire.
Things to do around Topkapi Palace
In Sultanahmet, the centre of the Old Town is where you can find the Basilica Cistern. The Basilica Cistern may be easily reached from the southwest of the Hagia Sophia Museum and is only a short distance from the Blue Mosque. It draws a huge crowd usually, but wait times can usually be reduced greatly with the Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets
The Hagia Irene (Greek: v meaning "Divine Peace") is one of the several Byzantine-era churches within Istanbul, and it has the longest and most intricate history of any of them. This ancient structure, which was finished in 337 A.D., 23 years before the Hagia Sophia, has witnessed the development of Istanbul's colourful history all around it, from Byzantine emperors and bloody uprisings to the Ottoman occupation and, ultimately, the establishment of the republic.
One of the greatest structures in the world, Hagia Sophia, also called the Church of the Holy Wisdom, is a notable Byzantine structure in Istanbul. Its Latin name is Sancta Sophia, while its Turkish name is Ayasofya. A Christian church was built there in the sixth century CE under Justinian I. (532–537). In later decades, it was a mosque, a museum, and then a mosque again.
The Blue Mosque is a live example of the centuries-old Islamic architectural traditions and is the majestic centrepiece of Ottoman architectural marvels. This magnificent mosque from the seventeenth century, which dominates the skyline of Istanbul and was built at the request of the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I, is also referred to as the Sultanahmet Mosque.
The Sultanahmet Square, also known as the Hippodrome, is one of Istanbul's most well-known tourist destinations and a hub of activity. It is surrounded by the famed Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum, and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. The Sultanahmet neighbourhood's tourist district, which is located on the Historical Peninsula and connects to all the neighbourhood's historical landmarks, is highly remarkable.
One of Istanbul's most significant historical sites is the Dolmabahce Palace. The palace is well recognized as the location of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's death in 1938, reflecting the life of the edifice throughout the final years of the Ottoman Empire. The palace guarantees you a culturally inspired journey for many years and is close to Istanbul's well-known tourist destinations including Taksim, Besiktas, and Kabatas.
The guided tour of the Topkapi Palace does indeed offer audio guides. The audio guides are available in English, Polish, Spanish, German, Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, Russian, and Italian, among other nine languages.
By train: Use Istanbul's M2 rapid transit line from one of two terminals: Yenikapi Transfer Center or Haciosman. Walk to Gülhane, which is 734 meters from the palace.
By bus: Take 47E, 66, 99A, BN1, or EM1 to get to Topkapi Palace.
No, only a small fraction of the palace is accessible by wheelchair and stroller. Due to steep stairs and high elevated rocks, certain areas are inaccessible.
Although the Harem is a six-story building, only one floor is accessible to outsiders. The Harem is accessible with some tour tickets, but not others. The ticket kiosk in front of the Harem is a convenient place to buy tickets if you want to visit the Harem as part of your Topkapi Palace guided tour.
You will be unable to take pictures during your guided tour of the Topkapi Palace because photography is not permitted in any of the rooms.