Topkapı Palace is the palace located in Istanbul’s historic peninsula where the Ottoman sultans lived and used as the headquarters of the state for 400 years of the over 600 years history of Ottoman Empire. Construction of the palace began in 1459, six years after the conquest of Constantinople, by the order of the Mehmed the Conqueror.
Topkapı was originally called the “New Palace” to distinguish it from the Old Palace in Beyazıt Square. It was given the name Topkapı, meaning Cannon Gate, in the 19th century.
In addition to being the residence of the Ottoman sultans, Topkapı Palace was also the administrative and educational centre of the state. The palace became inadequate to the requirements of state ceremonies and protocol in the early 1850s. Therefore the sultans moved to Dolmabahçe Palace, which located on the Bosphorus. Despite this move, the royal treasure, the Holy Relics of the Prophet Muhammad, and the imperial archives continued to be preserved at Topkapı.
Topkapı was transformed into a museum by a government decree dated April 3, 1924; following the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1923.
The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers. However, only the most important of these rooms and chambers are accessible to the visitors today such as the Ottoman imperial harem and the treasury, called hazine where the Spoonmaker’s Diamond and Topkapi Dagger are on display. The museum collection also includes Ottoman clothing, weapons, armor, miniatures, religious relics, and illuminated manuscripts.
Museum is open every day except Tuesdays.
Admission fee to the museum is 60 Turkish Liras. Museum Pass Istanbul (185 Turkish Liras) is also being sold at the entrance of the museum.
Winter Season: Between October 30th – April 15th
Museum, Harem and Hagia Irene can be visited between 9:00 AM – 4:45 PM as last entrance to the Museum 4:00 PM
Summer Season: Between April 15th – October 30th
Museum, Harem and Hagia Irene can be visited between 9:00 AM – 6:45 PM as last entrance to the Museum 6:00 PM