A unique area for those who want to get to know Ottoman history and culture closely: Istanbul. This city, which has been home to the most valuable architectural works of the Ottoman Empire for many years, becomes even more interesting with a palace where the sultans resided and that contains all the impressive ambiance of the sea. Topkapi Palace is one of the primary stops for those coming from Turkey and abroad to explore Istanbul. During the 400 years of the Ottoman Empire, this palace continued to be used actively. Nowadays, the building in question is used as a museum and receives thousands of guests every year.
Today, we will explore the museum with all its details and examine the palace, which can be a perfect stop for Istanbul. If you’re ready, let’s dive in!
Topkapi Palace Istanbul Turkey
Topkapi Palace is located in the city of Istanbul, known as the “cultural capital” of Turkey. Yes, you heard it right, while Ankara is the official capital of the country, Istanbul has the title of “cultural capital” due to its historical and cultural values.
The palace was built in 1478 in line with the instructions of Mehmet the Conqueror. According to the known, when the palace was first built, its size exceeded 700,000 square meters, that is, it had a very large area. However, the total area covered by the building today is approximately 80,000 square meters. If you want to visit the entire Unesco World Heritage List in Turkey, this is a good stopover. Because Topkapi Palace is on this list with its magnificent history. The excellent location of the building by the sea makes it a true Istanbul structure.
So what exactly was this palace used for?
Researches reveal that the building was used especially for educational and administrative purposes before it was abandoned. In this large area where nearly 4000 people once lived, both lessons were given and important decisions were made that directly affected the fate of the Ottoman Empire.
Topkapi Palace was opened to visitors as a museum for the first time during the reign of Abdülmecit. After Abdülmecit had the Dolmabahce Palace built, the administrative center of the state was relocated and Topkapi Palace started to be used as a museum. This situation allowed the Topkapı Palace to be equipped with showcases and covered with stylish structures that look aesthetically pleasing to the visitors. For example, showcases, which had an empirical style during the reign of Abdul Aziz, were built within the palace.
Parts of Topkapi Palace
It had to be waited until 1985 for Topkapi Palace to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Basic parts of the building can be listed as Imperial Gate, First Courtyard, Second Courtyard, Third Courtyard, Harem, Fourth Courtyard, Outer Gardens. We will look at them at the end of the article!
Topkapi Palace Museum And Harem
As it is one of the valuable symbols of authentic culture, the Harem is shown as one of the most popular areas of the palace. The word harem means intimate, untouchable, and secret in the Arabic language. Parallel to these meanings, the sultan’s mother, sisters, and wives lived in the harem. The sultan had more than one wife and all of them would continue to live here by getting to know each other. Some sources say that Hurrem Sultan and Gulfem Hatun, the wives of Suleiman the Magnificent, lived in this palace for some periods.
Generally, many servants of the valide sultan also lived to be able to serve in the Harem. The Harem, together with the servants and the sultan’s family, could turn into an area where nearly 1200 people lived in some periods. There are 400 rooms in the Harem of Topkapi Palace. The sizes of these rooms vary. This area was marked as an area where no men were allowed.
Harem is not only a living space but also an educational area. Here, women received various and comprehensive training in areas such as sewing and music. Teachers who were masters of Turkish musical instruments and tailoring would ensure the education of women.
Some of the rooms in Topkapi Palace attract the attention of many people with their mysterious interior designs and romantic meanings. Rooms in different areas such as Courtyard of the Queen Mother, Passage of Concubines, Courtyard of the Sultan’s Consorts, and the Concubines were used for different purposes.
Topkapi Palace History And Jewels
Many jewels in Topkapi Palace are in the special palace collection. The special emeralds and antiques found here are exhibited in a special way. Some of these jewels can be listed as follows:
1. Various jewelry accessories used by women
2. Throne hangers
3. Emerald earrings
4. Daggers with various jewels
5. Throne Decoration Sheets
6. Horse Trooper Jewels
7. Quran Case
9. Emerald Boxes
10. Pearly Brooches
11. Bow pouches
Treasury Room Details of Topkapi Palace
Jewel-filled Treasury was very valuable in the past as it reflected the glory of the Ottoman Empire. Today, these materials, each of which has an antique value, are carefully preserved. These products exhibited in the Imperial Treasury are important products obtained from different materials such as gold, silver, rubies, emeralds, jade, pearls, and diamonds.
This treasure room, located in the eastern part of the third courtyard of the building, was also used as a reception room for Mehmet the Conqueror’s office. Topkapı Dagger is one of the most famous pieces in the collection. You should definitely examine this. Moreover, the Kasıkçı Diamond (in some sources it is possible to see it as the Spoonmaker’s Diamond) is a unique diamond surrounded by 86 carat rock. This jewel is exhibited in the palace’s treasure room with maximum security measures. This diamond was worn by Mehmet the Fourth in 1648 when he was enthroned.
Topkapi Palace Tickets and Hours
Topkapi Palace can be visited by visitors on certain days and hours. It is possible to visit Topkapi Palace every day except Sundays and Tuesdays. It is open to visitors between 09.00 in the morning and 18.00 in the evening. The last entry time to Topkapi Palace is 17:00. To enter Topkapı Palace, you need to buy a ticket, and these tickets can only be purchased from the toll booths in the palace.
Topkapi Palace Interior And Map
It is possible to say that Topkapi Palace consists of the following parts:
Imperial Gate of Topkapı Palace
This structure of the palace is also known as the Bab-ı Humayun. The street where you will walk towards the gate is called Divan Yolu (The Road of Divan). Imperial marches starting from the Imperial Gate generally continued on this road. The most important feature of this gate, which can be defined as the main entrance of the First Courtyard, is that it dates from 1478 and is covered with marble. The magnificent marbles produced in the 19th century were used in the construction of the building. In addition, it is possible to see examples of traditional Ottoman Calligraphy Art, Sultan’s signature, or verses of the Qur’an on the building.
First Courtyard of Topkapı Palace
It is also known as ‘’1. Avlu’’ in Turkish. This area both functions as a park and is the largest part of all the other courtyards. Some of the buildings in this courtyard are quite striking. For example, the Imperial Mint, the Byzantine church of Hagia Irene, the Court of the Janissaries, or the Parade Court are some of the buildings in this area. It is possible to say that the courtyard is also used for parade courts.
Second Courtyard of Topkapi Palace
It is also known as ‘’2. Avlu’’ in Turkish. It is possible to say that this place is called Divan Square in some sources. It is possible to say that the courtyard, whose construction was thought to be completed in 1465, was a particularly active living space. This large courtyard with stables, bakeries, hospitals, and kitchens was very active during the reign of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror and Suleiman the Magnificent. The porcelain collection, Imperial Council, Imperial Treasury, Arms Collection, and Gate Of Felicity are included in this courtyard structure.
Third Courtyard of Topkapi Palace
Known as ‘’3. Avlu’’ in Turkish, it is also the most-loved section of the Topkapi Palace. This area, also called Enderun Courtyard, has an extremely green garden area. The harem is also located here. In addition, the III. Ahmed Library is another structure that distinguishes this courtyard from the others. Audience Chamber, The Imperial Treasury, Miniature and Portrait Gallery, Enderûn Library, Mosque of the Ağas, Dormitory of the royal pages, Privy Chamber are located here.
Here are the following buildings: Gate of Carts / Domed Cupboard Chamber, Hall of the Ablution Fountain, Courtyard of the Eunuchs, Harem Main Entrance, Courtyard of the Queen Mother, Passage of Concubines, Courtyard of the Sultan’s Consorts and the Concubines, Apartments of the Queen Mother, Baths of the Sultan and the Queen Mother and Privy Chamber of Murat III. Inside, there are also Ahmed I and Ahmed III’s privy chambers. We explained the harem to you in detail above! Check out that section for more information!
Fourth Courtyard of Topkapi Palace
Called ‘’4. Avlu’’ in Turkish, this important area consist of ‘’Imperial Sofa’’, magnificant terraces and gardens in it. The Circumcision Room, located inside the building, is a very special area with blue patterns on the walls and is the place where the “ceremonies of transition to masculinity” of the boys of the empire are held. In addition, there are Yerevan Kiosk, Baghdad Kiosk, Iftar Kiosk, Grand Kiosk, Terrace Kiosk here.
Outer Gardens of Topkapi Palace
Outside gardens are mostly full of kiosks. Huge hallow trees form iconic views of the gardens. You will love to take photos of the kiosks here.