Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayı) was, after the Old Seraglio, the second to be built after the Conquest, between 1465 and 1478. Succesive sultans added new parts and made the palace more attractive. Overlooking the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, it was at the time of the Ottoman splendour a city-palace which could accomodate about 4000 persons. During almost 400 years, 25 sultans lived here starting from Mehmet II the Conqueror until Abdülmecit.

Topkapı Palace has been converted into a museum in 1924

Gate “Bab-üs-Selam”

Sultan Selim III giving a reception

Bagdad Pavilion
1. Bab-üs Selam (Gate of Salutation)
2. Has Ahırlar ( Stables)
3. Kubbealtı (Divan or Council Hall)
4. Arms Collections
5. Former mosque for the kitchen personal
6. The Kitchens designed by Sinan (now housing the Chinese, Japanese and Turkish Porcelain collections)
7. Silverware and European Porcelain Collections
8. Bab-üs Saadet (the Gate of Felicity was used as a tribune during public ceremonies)
9. Quarters of the White Eunuchs (Turkish Embroidery Collections)
10. Arz Odası (Audiance Hall)
11. Library of Sultan Ahmet III
12. Former Mosque of the White Eunuchs (Library and Portraits of the Sultans)
13. Former School for the Pages (Garment and Caftan Collections)
14. The Treasury
15. Museum directorate
16. Calligraphy and Miniature Paintings Collections
17. Clock Collections
18. The Holy relics
19. Sofa Mosque
20. Mecidiye Pavilion (restaurant and café)
21. Residence of the Chief physician of the Sultan
22. Sofa Köşk (Sofa Pavilion)
23. Revan Köşk (Erivan Pavilion)
24. Bağdat Köşk (Bagdad Pavilion)
25. The Circumcision Room of the Princes
26. "İftariye"(a balcony where the sultans used to come at the end of daily fasting during Ramadan)

The Harem (extra ticket needed for the compulsory guided visit): one enters through the Black Eunuchs Quarters, the guardians of the harem whose chief was the fourth dignitary of the Empire. A succession of corridors reveals alcoves, courtyards, hammams, the Throne Room, the Crown princes' "Golden Cage", the Fruit Lounge" , Murat III's Bedroom, the beautiful floral mosaics, the precious woods....

The palace and the pavilions situated among nice gardens have been turned into a museum where rich and beautiful pieces of porcelain, ceramics, precious furniture, ceremonial clothing, tapestries, miniatures, Holy Relics of Prophet Mahomet and John the Baptist can be seen. However the main curiosities are:

- The Treasury with legendary jewels such as the drop-shaped 86 carats “Spoonmaker’s Diamond” (Kaşıkçı) surrounded by 49 large diamonds, the Topkapı Dagger ornemented with 3 valuable emeralds, a golden candelabra ornemented with 6666 diamonds. Golden thrones covered with precious stones....and many more marvels...

Topkapı Dagger

Goldan Throne weighing 250 kg /552 lb

Spoonmaker Diamond

- The Harem, a curiosity about the unknown and inaccessible, has long puzzled the western world. The word “harem” which in Arabic means “forbidden” refers to the private section of a household where women live and work. The harem was a mark of wealth and power, and was therefore reserved to the upper class. In the Harem of the Topkapı Palace,women who only were allowed to leave its confines on very special occasions, had much influence.Their life was based on intrigues and each woman sought to promote the interests of their own children. Here lived the family of the sultan: the Sultana Valide (mother of the sultan) who ruled the harem, the four wives, the numerous concubines, the children, the servants and the eunuchs whose black chief (Kızlar Ağası) was the only one to know all the secret desires of the sultan. The harem was like a labyrinth composed of 400 rooms, 10 bathrooms (hammams) made of marble and porphyre, fountains, corridors and secret passages...
(Open 09.00 - 16.30. Closed on Tuesdays from the end of September)
Map 2, E 3

Hürrem Sultana (Roxelane) favorite
Wife of Süleyman the Magnificent
Life in the harem