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Topkapi Palace - the centre of a kingdom

Topkapi PalaceThe Topkapi Palace is a must see on any visit to Istanbul. This stunning palace is the oldest building of this style in existence. In 1453 the Sultan at the time moved the capital to Istanbul where he had a palace in the middle of the town. The New Palace was constructed in the 1470s and is now known as Topkapi Palace. Following a request from Ataturk in 1942 Topkapi Palace became a museum. 

Topkapi Palace was vacated in 1852, when the Sultan took up residence at Dolmabahce Palace and Topkapi was left to fall into disrepair. It was over fifty years later that that it began to regain its regal beauty. 

When Topkapi was originally in use it was so much more than just the royal residence. It was the very centre of the Kingdom. Everything including all of the state business was run from the palace.

The main entrance for Topkapi Palace is through the Gate of Salutation, this particular gate would have only ever been used by the Sultan or citizens when on official business. 

The palace is made up of several courtyards, the first courtyard entered via the Imperial Gate which has a fountain in the centre which would have been used for washing; there is also the palace mint, guard’s quarters and firewood store. Situated at the left of the entrance is the Hagia Eivene Museum.  

The harem which was closed to outsiders has a series of hallways which link the 400 rooms that are dotted around the various courtyards. There are only certain areas of the harem that are open to visitors. 

The treasury is a large building next to the council state building and now holds a vast exhibition of old weapons. To the right of courtyard number two are the palace kitchens, parts of which have been left how they were and the other parts being used to display the china and silverware collections.

The private residence of the Sultan is accessed through the Gate of Felicity, courtyard number three. This building incorporates the throne room, university and antique personal belongings. Bearing to the right of this courtyard is where the unique collection of original clothing, carpets and more is on show.

Topkapi PalaceThe second hall houses the Emerald room and the most spectacular collection of jewellery, including the symbol of the museum, The Topkapi Dagger which is encrusted with emeralds and displayed with many other stunning pieces along with the Pigot diamond.

Next door is a spectacular collection of clocks, with the centrepiece being of British origin. There are a number of showcases in this room which hold fascinating objects such as private correspondence, one of the first ever manuscripts of the Quran etc.

The palace is closed all day on Tuesdays but open every other day from 9am – 5pm. The entrance fee is 15TL; please note that if you want to see the harem you will have to join one of the guided tours.

This is a fabulous attraction with so much to see and with most of the contents being original. There is a restaurant on site where you can enjoy a snack and purchase refreshments. Really worth taking a day and visiting. 

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