Topkapı Sarayı was the home of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. It’s located in the historic city and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage listing for Istanbul. Construction on the palace started in 1459 but it was expanded and renovated over the years, including after a 1509 earthquake and a 1665 fire.
The original name of the palace was Saray-i Cedid-i Amire (Imperial New Palace) and didn’t acquire the name Topkapı (Cannon Gate) until the reign of Mahmud I in the mid-17th century. At its height, it was home to over 4,000 people. Topkapı lost favor with the sultans over the years, and in 1856, the more modern Dolmabahçe Sarayı became the main palace.
It’s possible to visit the palace every day except Tuesdays for 40TL (as of September 2016) or on a Museum Pass Istanbul. The Harem costs an extra 25TL. Audioguides are available. At least a half day is recommended for a thorough visit to the palace.
The following posts give a complete look at Topkapı:
- I. Avlu (1st Courtyard)
- II. Avlu (2nd Courtyard)
- III. Avlu (3rd Courtyard)
- IV. Avlu (4th Courtyard)
- Gülhane Parkı
- Hagia Eirini
- Harem: Part 1 (Entrance, Eunuchs’ Quarters, and Concubines’ Quarters)
- Harem: Part 2 (Queen Mother’s Apartments, Baths, and Imperial Hall)
- Harem: Part 3 (Sultan’s Quarters)
- Istanbul Archaeology Museums
For several different virtual tours of Topkapı Sarayı, click here.