Topkapi Palace

For 400 years, the ruling Ottoman sultans lived and ruled in this palace complex. The walled palace is made up of several outdoor courtyards and interior buildings covered in brightly colored mosaic artwork. At one time, more than 4,000 people lived in Topkapi palace so you can imagine how much space there must be.

Topkapi Palace

The impressive entrance gate to Topkapi Palace in Istanbul

Starting in 1459, Sultan Mehmed II ordered the construction when he felt he needed a new palace. It eventually became known as Topkapi, which means Cannon Gate. Like most structures that are many hundreds of years old, there has been damage and restoration over the centuries due to fires and earthquakes.

Today, the palace is operated as a public museum where you can not only see the palace buildings themselves but an impressive collection of artifacts from the Ottoman era.

Interior mosaics at the Topkapi PalaceMosaics along with marble columnsThe Topkapi Palace is a huge complex

The walls surrounding Topkapi Palace are marked with a number of huge gates, like the Salutation Gate seen in the picture at the top of this page. Inside, there are all the buildings you would expect in a major royal compound. Gardens and courtyards are surrounded by carriage houses, stables, a series of kitchens, baths, buildings for holding royal court, and private living quarters such as bedrooms. Don’t forget the classic harem rooms too.

If that wasn’t enough, there is a library, mosque, art gallery and a the Imperial treasury as well. It’s a very expansive palace that is filled with so many wonderful bits of history and architecture.

Mosques offer a certain look at the beauty and art of this period, but a royal palace has a whole other level of luxury. When you’re touring the historic buildings of Istanbul, plan on seeing the Topkapi Palace.

Visiting Topkapi Palace:

Location: in the Sultanahmet Old Town quarter just off Kennedy Ave, near the Blue Mosque
Hours: 9:00am until 5:00pm (or until 7pm in the summer months)
Cost: 25 Lira (separate ticket cost to see the harem areas, 15 Lira)
Official Website: (Turkish and English)