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Topkapi Palace in Istanbul: Once the seat of the sultans and administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire. Today a museum with precious treasures.

History of the Palace

Sultan Mehmed II had the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul built in 1478. The palace was virtually a city within the city and more than 5,000 employees lived in the buildings and were responsible for the administration of the Ottoman Empire. The huge palace is surrounded by a five-kilometer-long wall and is divided into four different courtyards. In total, the complex covers 69 hectares. The sultans had their residence in the Topkapi Palace until the 18th century. Within the palace walls were, among other things, two hospitals, ten mosques and five schools.

The term “Topkapi” means cannon gate and apparently results from the former Byzantine wall that enclosed the former Constantinople. At first the palace was called “New Palace”, but in the course of time the name “Topkapi Palace” prevailed.

Entrance to Topkapı Palace

Immeasurable Wealth

The impressive palace has found its place on a headland called Sarayburnu, between the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn. The name Sarayburnu translates to “headland of the palace”. When it was built, parts of a Byzantine palace, which was located on the same spot, were built over. Only the finest and most expensive materials were used in the construction of the palace. The immense wealth of the Ottoman rulers was reflected here.

The individual courtyards of the palace in Istanbul have their own entrance gates and were dedicated to different tasks: The first courtyard housed rooms for guards and services. Parades were also held here. The second courtyard housed, among other things, the palace’s kitchen. The Sultan’s bodyguard also resided here. The third courtyard was not allowed to be entered by everyone, because here was the throne room, the harem and the private chambers of the Sultan. Finally, in the fourth courtyard there were extensive parks.

The Harem in Topkapı Palace

In 1923, the palace complex was converted into a museum. Numerous tangible treasures are on display here. In addition to the throne and precious clothes, the Topkapi dagger and the world-famous 86-carat spoon diamond can also be viewed. Religious relics are also on display. A whisker and a footprint of the Prophet Mohammed can be admired.

For visitors, Topkapi Palace opens between Wednesday and Monday from 9am to 4pm. During Ramadan, it is only open between 12pm and 4pm. The entrance fee is around 12 euros. For a visit to the harem and the treasury there is a separate entrance fee of 6,50 Euro each.

Personal tip

The Topkapi Palace is very extensive and one should plan approximately 3-4 hours for the stay. Inside the Topkapi Palace you will also find the entrance to the Harem, for which you have to pay further admission.


  • Monday: 10:00-16:00
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 10:00-16:00
  • Thursday: 10:00-16:00
  • Friday: 10:00-16:00
  • Saturday: 10:00-16:00
  • Sunday: 10:00-16:00

More Info

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