Address: Sultanahmet Meydanı, Cankurtaran Fatih
Phone: (0212) 512 0480
Web Site: topkapisarayi.gov.tr
Working Hours: April 15-October 1: Daily: 9:00-19:00
October 1-April 15: Daily: 9:00-17:00
Closed on Tuesdays
A visit to Topkapi Palace is one of the most popular things to do in Istanbul. The first and most famous of the Ottoman Sultans’ residences and administrative centers in Istanbul, it was built in 1465 during the reign of Sultan Mehmet II and was in use for approximately 400 years of the 624 years of Ottoman rule.
Topkapi’s heyday ended in 1852, when Sultan Abdulmecid moved to the newly-built Dolmabahce Palace. Topkapi itself was converted into a museum in the 1920’s, and contains various Islamic relics which have made it a place of pilgrimage for the devout.
The palace consists of four courtyards, a set of gardens (now forming part of Gulhane Park), and scattered buildings, which include the entrance halls and assembly rooms for the government of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Sultan’s private apartments. After the Imperial Gate, the first courtyard features the church of Hagia Irene, gardens, and several fountains. Through the Gate of Salutations, you will get to the second courtyard, where you can find the kitchens, The Tower of Justice and the Divan, the Harem, and the Imperial Hall. The heart of the palace is the third courtyard, consisting of the Throne Room, the Library of Ahmed III, the Treasury, and the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle. The fourth courtyard was the private garden of the Sultan and contains pavilions, gardens, and terraces.
Buy a ticket online in advance to avoid having to queue.
Touring the Topkapi Palace can take at least half a day, so it’s better to head there as early as possible, especially if you’re the kind of traveler who doesn’t like to rush things.
Keep in mind that the Harem’s opening hours are different than the Palace hours (closing time is 4pm during winter and 5pm during summer). So make sure to ask about the closing time when you arrive at Topkapi Palace.
Make sure you check out the amazing views of the Bosphorus through the terraces and gardens!
If you don’t have too much time, start with the Harem and the Treasury.
Topkapi Palace is also a sales point for MuzeKart (available only to Turkey residents) or Museum Pass, which can significantly reduce ticket prices if you plan on visiting several of the city's attractions.