Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

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  • Museum Shop at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, TR
    Museum Shop at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul,...
    by TrendsetterME
  • Museum Shop at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, TR
    Museum Shop at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul,...
    by TrendsetterME
  • Museum Shop at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, TR
    Museum Shop at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul,...
    by TrendsetterME
  • TrendsetterME's Profile Photo

    Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Updated Jun 10, 2013

    5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, TR
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    Thats a real "must see" spot of Istanbul, whether you are a tourist or a local ...

    As being the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465 - 1856) of their 624-year reign, Topkapi Palace is an amazing combination of architecture and history.

    Construction began in year of 1459, ordered by "Sultan Mehmed II", the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At its peak, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people and covered a large area with a long shoreline.

    There is a nice "Museum Shop" located at the Garden Courtyard of the Topkapi Palace, here you can read my Review of the "Museum Shop" ... :
    Museum Shop

    The complex was expanded over the centuries, with major renovations after the 1509 earthquake and the 1665 fire. The palace contained mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and a mint.

    Here you you can see more "Garden Courtyard" photos of this beautiful Palace on my "Travelogue" ... :
    Garden Courtyard of Topkapi Palace Travelogue

    The palace complex is located on the Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu), a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, with a good view of the Bosphorus from many points of the palace. The site is hilly and one of the highest points close to the sea. During Greek and Byzantine times, the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Byzantion stood here. There is an underground Byzantine cistern located in the Second Courtyard, which was used throughout Ottoman times, as well as remains of a small church, the so-called Palace Basilica on the acropolis, which have been excavated in modern times.

    Here you you can see more photos of this amazing Palace on my "Travelogue" ... :
    Topkapi Palace Travelogue

    The nearby Church of Hagia Irene, though located in the First Courtyard, is not considered a part of the old Byzantine acropolis.

    Here you can read my "Hagia Irene" review ... :
    Hagia Irene

    Enjoy your "Topkapi Palace" visit ... :)

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  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo

    Loved This Palace!!

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 16, 2014

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    Gate of Salutations, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
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    In a word, the Topkapi Palace is, magnificent. It is definitely one of the highlights in Istanbul. Topkapi Palace was the residence of sultans and their harems from the 1450's until the middle of the 19th century. It was also the seat of the Ottoman rule. The original palace was built by Sultan Mehmet II shortly after his conquest of Constantinople. Over the next several hundred years, subsequent sultans added their own elaborate touches. The completed palace has four courtyards and quarters for 5,000 residents including slaves, concubines, and eunuchs. The palace was abandoned in favor of Dolmabahce Palace in 1853. It wasn't until 70+ years later that it was opened as a museum.

    From the outside the palace looks very plain in comparison to the palaces of Europe. Once inside, especially the Harem, it’s completely different.

    Some of my favorite buildings/rooms:

    The Baghdad Pavilion - built in 1639 by Murat IV to celebrate his capture of Baghdad. Beautiful blue and white tilework!!

    The Circumcision (yes, really) Pavilion - stained glass windows, fireplace, and beautiful ceiling.

    The Treasury (no photos allowed) - smaller than I thought and not much on display compared to other (European) treasuries. A highlight was a stunning 86 carat diamond. Very long lines into the treasury and people were 2-3 deep peering over each other to see the displays.

    However for me, the highlight of the entire palace complex was the Harem. Please see my separate tip on the Harem.

    Besides the treasury, other collections in the palace include: ceramics, glass, and silverware, arms and armor, imperial costumes, miniatures and manuscripts, clocks, and pavillion of the holy mantle (holy relics of Islam).

    The palace complex is huge so wear comfortable shoes and bring some water. You can easily spend 3-4 hours here, more if it's very crowded.

    The ticket office is located just outside the Gate of Salutations. You can hire a guide at this point if you so desire. Cost is 10 YTL per person/per hour for 3-4 hours (total 60-80 YTL). Guides are able to go to the head of the line to purchase your entry tickets so it helps when the lines are very long. We used the audio guide which was 10 YTL per person for the day. We really enjoy the audio guides as it lets us go at our own pace.

    After getting your tickets and going through the Gate of Salutations, head to the right to get an audio guide. Then head immediately to the Harem. It is very popular and will get very crowded. We were told that you had to take a guided tour of the Harem, but this is not true.

    Admission 20 TL
    Extra fee for entry to Harem 15 TL
    Audio Guide 10 TL
    Guide 10 TL per person/per hour

    Palace opens at 9 a.m. Either get there very early or early afternoon to avoid the crowds as much as possible (in high season).

    Hours: Wed - Mon 9-7 in summer and 9-5 in winter. Closed Tuesdays.
    Harem is open Wed - Mon 9:30 - 3:30 year round.

    The Palace is within walking distance of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

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  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo

    The Best of Topkapi: The Harem

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 16, 2014

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    Imperial Hall, Harem, Topkapi Palace
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    For me, the highlight of the entire palace complex was the Harem. The harem is a maze of exquisite rooms where the sultan’s wives, concubines, and even his mother, lived. The entire harem consists of 400 halls, terraces, rooms, wings, and apartments that are grouped around the sultan’s private residence. Only about 40 have been restored and opened for viewing. There is a hierarchy within the harem. Surprisingly (I thought), it was presided over by the sultan’s mother. Next in order of importance were the sultan’s daughters, then his 4 wives or favourites, then the girls who “caught his eye”, and lastly, the ones he’d already slept with.

    With the exception of the sultan’s family members, all of the women entered the harem as slaves. The first compound housed about 200 lesser concubines and the palace eunuchs. As you move further into the harem, the rooms become larger and more opulent as the concubines moved up in “status”. The dream was to become a favourite of the sultan and bear him a son which could lead to marriage. The tile work, the furnishings, mirrors, etc. were beautiful, but you realized that this was not a life of luxury, but a life of enslavement.

    My favorite rooms in the harem were the:

    Imperial Hall - it's the largest room in the Harem and was used for entertaining. The sultan's throne sits against one wall from where he could watch the proceedings.

    Sutlan's bedroom - gold bed, fireplace, stained-glass windows, beautiful tiles.

    Paired Pavillions - built for the crown prince, this pair of apartments has stained-glass windows and stunning tilework.

    Of course once we reached the end of the harem, it prompted an interesting discussion between my husband and me of the whole lifestyle. I only wondered why a woman wasn’t the ruler with her own harem of men!!

    The palace complex is huge so wear comfortable shoes and bring some water. You can easily spend 3-4 hours here, more if it's very crowded.

    The ticket office is located just outside the Gate of Salutations. You can hire a guide at this point if you so desire. Cost is 10 YTL per person/per hour for 3-4 hours (total 60-80 YTL). Guides are able to go to the head of the line to purchase your entry tickets so it helps when the lines are very long. We used the audio guide which was 10 YTL per person for the day. We really enjoy the audio guides as it lets us go at our own pace.

    After getting your tickets and going through the Gate of Salutations, head to the right to get an audio guide. Then head immediately to the Harem. It is very popular and will get very crowded. We were told that you had to take a guided tour of the Harem, but this is not true.

    Admission 20 TL
    Extra fee for entry to Harem 15 TL
    Audio Guide 10 TL
    Guide 10 TL per person/per hour

    Palace opens at 9 a.m. Either get there very early or early afternoon to avoid the crowds as much as possible (in high season).

    Hours: Wed - Mon 9-7 in summer and 9-5 in winter. Closed Tuesdays.
    Harem is open Wed - Mon 9:30 - 3:30 year round.

    The Palace is within walking distance of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

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  • midnight_mike's Profile Photo

    Topkapi Palace

    by midnight_mike Written Jun 11, 2006

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    The gates of Topkapi Palace

    Topkapi Palace is unlike most palaces in the world. When you are there you will likely ask the question “Is this it?” It is a collection of single-story buildings with an emphasis on openness. There are plenty of courtyards and gardens, each with the purpose of being independent from the rest of the palace. The women of the harem, for example, were unable to go beyond their quarters. So everything they needed in their daily lives was right there. Highlights of any visit will include the Harem, the Imperial Treasury with a collection of the sultans’ robes and the Sacred Safekeeping Rooms. In this last section there are relics of the Prophet Muhammad, including a tooth and a strand of his beard.

    Unfortunately, there is not much furniture left in Topkapi Palace. In the 19th century, the sultans moved to glamorous mansions on the European side of Bosphorus such as Dolmabahce Palace.

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    The harem at Topkapi Palace

    by MalenaN Updated Aug 22, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    To enter the harem you have to go on a guided tour. Be sure to que to get a place in the next group.
    Entrance is 10 000 000 TL.

    After entering the harem the group first stops in the old qaurters of the black eunuchs where the walls are decorated with Kütahya tiles from the 17th century.

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  • fachd's Profile Photo

    Topkapi Palace

    by fachd Updated Sep 19, 2007

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    Topkapi Palace entrance
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    Another sight that we visited in Sultanahmet district of the old Istanbul is the Topkapi Palace. For four centuries Topkapi Palace was a home to all Ottomans Sultans until 1860. The palace is divided into many different pavilions, chambers rooms. In the chambers of the Sacred Relics there are many artefacts belonging to Prophet Muhammad, his footprint, the swords, the bamboo bow, hairs from the beard and chest of the Holy Mantle. The display of the black stone (Hacer ul Esved stone) with the golden cover is the black stone which fell from heaven within the Kaaba. The chambers display of one of the oldest Koran written on deer skin. The relics were brought to Istanbul when the Ottoman’s assumed the Caliphates of Islam. There are also many other relics in the chamber.

    The Ottomans kitchens are converted into gallery. The gallery display the finest collection of the Imperial Ottoman Empire. In here you will see gifts from other empire, the collection of Chinese porcelain from the Ming dynasty, Japanese porcelain, silverware, crystals and others.

    Other rooms like the Costume, Treasury, Harem that tourist can visits. The Treasury room is a collection of the most expensive diamond. The Costume room display some of the Sultans costumes. Then there’s the Harem room where the black eunuchs, concubines, the Sultan mother are kept. The occupants had no freedom. No one from the outside world was permitted to enter the room. The Harem room was a place for the Sultans to have sexual activities.

    The restaurants and café is located on the north west of the palace. We had lunch and the view facing the Bosphorus is superb. While eating you see the Asian side of Istanbul and to the left the Golden horn bridge.

    Give yourself about 2 hours minimum to explore Topkapi Palace.

    Open 9am - 5pm, close on Tuesday
    Cost $10 - $15, extra cost for Harem Pavillion

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  • H-TownJourneyman's Profile Photo

    Topkapi Sarayi

    by H-TownJourneyman Updated Feb 19, 2007

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    Shortly after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the young leader of the Turks, Mehmet II, organized construction on a new Grand Palace for his empire. After it's completion in 1465, Topkapi Palace housed the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire for almost 400 years, until Dolmabahçe Palace was opened in 1856. Then in 1924 under the direction of Atatürk, Topkapi was turned into a museum. The site of Topkapi, precisely where the original city was founded in the 7th century B.C., provides amazing views of much of Istanbul, as well as the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, & the Sea of Marmara. The numerous, and well maintained gardens and courtyards among the complex are quite lovely, and provide an excellent backdrop for the structure itself. A general admission ticket will allow you to see the main grounds of the palace, along with many areas within it. For additional fees you can see the Palace Treasury or take a guided tour of the Harem: the residence of many Sultan wives and children. Among the sights here, there are many treasures and relics from old empire, as well as costumes and ceremonial items from several past Sultans. Some of the decor of the palace is amazing, with detailed Iznik ceramic tiles and golden trim surrounding most of the ceilings. There is also wonderful information in each area regarding it's significance and history, and a timeline of each Sultan's reign. Due to it's popularity, Topkapi can get quite crowded during the peak of the day. But it is definitely a site worth visiting in Istanbul!

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  • tere1's Profile Photo

    The Sultan's Palace

    by tere1 Updated Aug 7, 2006

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    The throne
    2 more images

    The Topkapi Palace was one of the sights I liked the most on my visit to Istanbul. It is huge, composed of 4 Courtyards, so , if you want to see it all, be sure to save at least a morning to see it.

    The Topkapi Palace was more than just the private residence of the Sultan and his court. It was the seat of the supreme executive and judiciary council, the Divan and the training school, the Palace School. In the First Courtyard, there were a hospital, bakery,arsenal, a state mint, a part of the treasury and the Outer Service. It was open to public. The Second Courtyard was open to people who had business with the council. The Third Courtyard was reserved to the Sultan's household and palace children. The Fourth Courtyard was exclusively reserved for the Sultan's use.

    I specially liked to see the Harem and the Treasury. You have to buy a ticket separately to see the Harem, which is located in the 2nd Courtyard and you will have a guided tour. The tours are conducted every 30 minutes.( 9.30am - 12.30pm and 1.30pm-4.00pm). A ticket costs 10 YTL.

    The Treasury consists of four different halls which are located on the eastern corner of the Third Courtyard. These rooms were used as a suite of reception rooms by some of the sultans.
    It has wonderful jewellery and treasure pieces, incredibly valuable.

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Topkapi Palace

    by MalenaN Updated Aug 22, 2004

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    Last year (2003) the entrance fee to Topkapi Palace was
    12 000 000 TL. But that is not enough. If you want to see the best parts, the harem and the treasury, you have to pay more. 10 000 000 TL for the harem and another 10 000 000 TL for the treasury.
    I decided to see the harem but not the treasury as it would have been to expensive. But now I wish I had seen the treasury as well.

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  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    A MUST SEE - TOPKAPI PALACE

    by balhannah Updated Aug 4, 2009

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    This is another Palace built when Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror took Istanbul in 1453. It is located on a headland in the Sultanahmet district, with beautiful views over the Bosphorus.

    Topkapi Palace was home to all the Ottoman sultans until the reign of Abdulmecid I (1839-1860), a period of nearly four centuries.
    Lots has happened to this Palace. Some buildings have disappeared, been destroyed by fire, earthquakes or demolished to make way for new buildings. The palace therefore is not a single massive building, but one that has been added to, in the styles and tastes of many periods.

    In 1923 it was extensively renovated and transformed into a museum, and ever since has been one of Istanbul's most popular sights. Since Topkapi is so large, only some sections are open to the public.

    This is a museum in a Palace, so it is different to the sumptuous Dolmabache Palace.

    Go early, even at 9am, when I went, there were a lot of people here, and tours were just arriving. I did manage to beat the most of these, which was good.

    I walked straight up to the ticket window, no queues.
    Looked at all the displays, hardly rubbing shoulders with another person, .......
    so this IS THE TIME TO GO.

    Certainly, when finished, it was a lot, lot busier than when I started.

    Hiring Audio Guides.......A good idea, probably could do without it in the Palace as there is plenty of information written in English, BUT in the Harem .......there is not much information, so I would say to hire one at least for here.

    I was really interested in the Harem and probably should have hired a guide for this section, but I don't know if you can do that or have to hire them for the lot!

    GUIDES CAN BE HIRED Where you buy your tickets for the Palace.

    I hired an AUDIO GUIDE.......COST 10T/l for each section, so if you hire for the Harem as well,
    It cost .......20t/l Total

    ADMISSION IN 2009 was ...20t/l for the Palace plus...15t/l for the Harem
    It cost..............35t/l Total

    OPENING TIMES.......9 - 5pm or 9-7 (Summer) daily CLOSED .....Tuesday

    IT IS NOT CHEAP OUTING, if you hire Audio guides as well as admission.

    There is a lot to see here, so you will probably need to allow about 3 hours or more. I spent 4hours. Take you time, wander around, take it all in, and lastly but not least, ENJOY!!!

    www.topkapisarayi.gov.tr/eng/indexalt.html

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  • fouads's Profile Photo

    Topkapi Palace

    by fouads Written Apr 25, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    fouad 2006

    It,s great palace for imperial residence of Ottoman sultans and it,s show you
    you some parts from that time they used it like dishes and the kitchen , weapeons and chinese porcelain , with jewellry of the that time , it deserve to visit . cost 10ytl=8$
    note : it close on 4 pm and tuesday is closed .

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Topkapi Palace

    by MalenaN Updated Aug 22, 2004

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    Shortly after the conquest of Istanbul Mehmet the conqueror started to build the palace. After that sultans lived here for almost 400 years until sultan Abdülmecid I left Topkapi for Dolmabahce Palace in 1853.
    The palace is not one single building but several buildings around four big courtyards.

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  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo

    First Courtyard and Palace Layout

    by nicolaitan Updated Mar 1, 2009

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    First Courtyard and Imperial Mint
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    This 300 yard long park like courtyard (image 1) was open in Ottoman times to all the populace, at least on certain days. And entrance remains free today. Also known as the Court of the Janissaries, it was a place for merchants, tradesmen, and the special infantry units ( janissaries ) guarding the palace. Along one break in the wall to the right after entering there are great views ( image 2) of the Bosphorus. The peripheral walls were composed of functional palace units, including an imperial mint, hospitals, stables, a bakery, and other units. The Byzantine Hagia Irene is within this courtyard, the only major Byzantine church not converted to a mosque but instead left intact as an armory and storehouse. This church is closed to visitors except for concerts. Also adjacent is the famed Archaeologic Museum, closed on Mondays as we sadly discovered. Of passing interest, we noted that nobody left the pathways to walk on the grass, no picnics, no young lovers, no frisbee, no nothing.

    Along the right wall facing the sea is a fountain ( image 3 ) allegedly used by the the executioner to clean his hands and sword after decapitations performed just inside the second courtyard.

    The First Courtyard is also home to a legion of well fed cats ( image 4 ), gathered by the main pathway in anticipation of treats from the line of visitors.

    Just inside the Second Courtyard at the ticket booths, a detailed plan of the Topkapi Palace ( image 5 ) is displayed on tables, a opportunity for orientation and planning. The Topkapi has far too many attractions to visit even with a three plus hour stay, and some planning is suggested.

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  • traveloturc's Profile Photo

    Topkapi Palace Babusselam

    by traveloturc Updated Jun 8, 2013

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    entrance of topkapi Palace

    Babüsselâm (Gate of Salutations)
    This main gate to the Topkapi Palace leads to the Kubbealti where the audience gatherings took place and to the second courtyard where the Treasury was located. .To enter through this gate, everyone but the Sultan was obliged to dismount. Built in 1564 during the reign of Sultan Süleyman, the Magnificient, its main features are it's two octagonal towers.
    Not : Topkapi is the name of the palace and please dont confuse with a district with the same name.This district is very far to topkapi palace and has no connection with the palace .
    I am giving you very useful link to enjoy topkapi palace 360 degrees:
    http://www.360tr. com/topkapi/ index.htm
    enjoy it !!!

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  • Paul2001's Profile Photo

    The Topkapi Palace

    by Paul2001 Written Apr 30, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Topkapi Palace

    The Topkapi Palace is one of the world's great palace and a premiere attraction. Visiting Istanbul without touring the Topkapi is like visiting London without seeing the Tower of London. Your trip to Istanbul is not complete without it. For that reason the Topkapi is ridiculously crowded and very expensive compared to other attractions in Turkey.
    The palace was first built by Mehmet the Conqueror just after his capture of Constantinople in 1453. His successors lived here for nearly 400 years until they began to take up residence in the Dolmabahce Palace, just across the Golden Horn.
    The palace is quite different from the European concept of a palace. It is much more enclosed being built around four courtyards. Surrounding these courtyards, within the perimeter walls, are a series of pavilions, chambers, halls, kitchens and even smaller courtyards. Among them are the famous harem and treasury. Each of these must see attractions can only be visited by purchasing an additional ticket. This is why the cost of your tour of the Topkapi with cost you an arm and a leg. I figure that my visit cost me $34.00CDN in all. Just the same, the whole place is engrossing and it is hard not to pass up not seeing all of it.
    Supposedly it cost $10.00 to just enter the palace grounds and a additional $10.00 each to tour the Harem and the Treasury. This price will adjust with the change in the exchange rate. So there maybe some relief from the high cost.
    The palace is open everyday but Tuesday from 9:30am to 5pm. The Harem which only can be visited by guided tour, is closed at lunchtime.

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