Topkapi Palace

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Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Topkapi Palace Istanbul Reviews

irenem irenem
153 reviews
Topkapi Palace Feb 25, 2017
Any visitor to Istanbul with even the slightest interest in history is bound to find themselves in the Sultanahmet area which has a wealth of historical sights. One of these is Topkapi Palace.

Topkapi Palace was home to the Ottoman Sultans for around four hundred years from 1465 to 1856.It is located on Seraglio Point and looks out over the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea

of Marmara. During Greek and Byzantine times, the acropolis of the Ancient Greek City of Byzantium was located here.

When Mehmet the Conqueror seized control of the city in 1453, he needed a suitable place to build his palace and selected this site. Construction of the palace began in 1459. During the reign of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent - from 1520 to 1560- Topkapi Palace was expanded. The main person involved in this expansion

was Alaüddin - a Persian architect. In 1574 after a terrible fire destroyed the palace's kitchens, Sultan Selim II employed the famous architect Mimar Sinan to rebuild the burnt down parts and expand the Harem, the baths, the Privy Chamber and several shoreline pavilions. Topkapi Palace was at one time surrounded by

thick, high defensive walls.

Topkapi Palace does not look like a palace in the European sense. It is a large complex of rooms built around courtyards. Topkapi Palace consists of four main courtyards and a harem. At one time it was home to as many as 4,000 people. The Palace's original name was Yeni Saray or New Palace. The name Topkapi means Cannon Gate. This was one of many gateways into the palace.

The First Courtyard was the largest courtyard of the palace. This courtyard was also known as the Court of the Janissaries - the Sultan's armed bodyguards. Palace buildings that survive in this courtyard nowadays are the former Imperial Mint which dates from 1727 and the Church of Hagia Irene. Hagia Irene, the Church of

the Divine Peace, was built by the Byzantines. The Ottomans used it as an armoury.

When we lived in Istanbul, Haghia Irene was seldom open to the public, but when I found out it was being used to stage a concert, I insisted on going to it. I wanted to see inside a church that had the same name as me. We heard Mozart's Requiem here. It was an excellent performance, but a pigeon got into this former church in the middle of it and its calls and the flapping of its wings could be heard whenever there was a lull

in the music.

The Second Courtyard, Divan Meydani was entered through the Gate of Salutation. This courtyard was at one time full of peacocks and gazelles. It was completed around 1465 and was surrounded by the

palace hospital, the bakery, the Janissary quarters, the stables, the imperial harem and the Divan, which was the Imperial Council. These are all to the north of the courtyard and the palace kitchens are to the south.

Underneath the Second Courtyard there is a cistern dating from Byzantine times. The Second Courtyard was mainly used by the sultan for holding audiences and for dispensing justice.

The Gate of Felicity is the entrance to the Third Courtyard. This courtyard was the Inner Palace. It is surrounded by the Hall of the Privy Chamber, the treasury, the Harem and some pavilions. The library of Ahmed III stands in its centre. The Imperial Treasury is worth seeing. Some of the gem stones on display here were so huge, it was hard to believe they were real. I remember massive emeralds and diamonds. There is also a famous bejewelled dagger which featured in a film called Topkapi. This film dates from 1964 and involves an attempt to steal the Topkapi dagger.

The third courtyard also has a display of some beautiful

miniature paintings. I have framed posters based on some of these in my home.

The Harem was the living area for the Sultan's wives, concubines and female relatives. It contained more than 400 rooms. I remember there was a part of the harem where the women could secretly look down on important visitors arriving for an audience with the sultan. The harem was guarded by the sultan's eunuchs.

The fourth courtyard was the innermost private sanctuary of the sultan and his family. It was made up of several pavilions, kiosks, gardens and terraces.

In 1856, Sultan Abdül Mecid I decided to move his court to Dolmabahçe Palace. This had just been built on the Bosphorus. It was the first European-style palace in Istanbul.
Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace
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halilee halilee
133 reviews
Beautiful place but packed full of people! Apr 28, 2012
We visited Topkapi Palace as soon as it opened, and even then, there was a lineup at the ticket office that took an hour to get through ( 25 TL). Once inside, the grounds are breathtaking with equally stunning architecture of which the most interesting was probably the Harem which cost extra ( worth it!). This was where the sultan kept his concubines, ladies-in-waiting, and his children ( murat III had 112 children!). Some of the sultans had up to 300 concubines!

The Treasury has an impressive collection of objects including the Topkapi Dagger and the 5th largest diamond in the world. There is another room called the Sacred Safekeeping room that holds a footprint in clay of the Prophet Mohammed , the rod of Moses, and the sword of the prophet David. Both of these rooms we ( my 2 friends, my adult daughter and myself) kind of sped through as the sheer mass of people was overwhelming. We were literally squished up from the front and the back and the sides.. with people. Not very enjoyable or relaxing. Maybe if we had beelined for this as soon as we got in, it would have been more enjoyable with less people, but as it was, we had entered the Haram first.

As we were leaving, the lineup to the ticket office was huge, we're talking probably at least 3 hours of standing in line. If that's the case, I'd leave and try another day. Otherwise, try to get here first thing in the morning or maybe later in the day. You do need probably at least 2-3 hours here. The palace is definately impressive and worth seeing.
Intricate details
Beautiful gardens
5 / 5 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
simsing says:
Congrats on the feature, Hali!
Have fun in Antarctica!
Posted on: Feb 03, 2017
ccjbeachbum says:
amazing place
Posted on: Jul 27, 2012
rsvpme says:
Spectacular photography..truly !
Posted on: Jul 15, 2012
Forever333 Forever3…
4 reviews
Topkapi-Old Sultanhamet Aug 16, 2012
surrounded by other major attractiis like the blue mosque, haga sophia us topkapi palace- its worth walking from the open park/cobbkestone paths to see some ancient relics

i saw the stick that according to stories was that of moses.

other artifacts like that of prophet mohammed, ancient large diamonds and relics of the ottoman empire.

the palace itself is of rare architecture.

don,t be afraid to ask the military guys to take a photo with them.

And you must try the roasted chestnuts.
spocklogic spocklog…
325 reviews
Palace of a Sultan in Istanbul Feb 13, 2011
Topkapi palace was the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans for nearly 400 years (1465 to 1856) in their 624 years in power. I used to think it was good to be king but after seeing this place, it’s definitely better to be Sultan. It’s impressive as a palace and museum, but what struck me the most is that this entire place was the residence, place of royal entertainment and place of pleasure & propagation for one person. I thought the Kings and Queens of Europe had it good, but this place is unbelievable in its excesses for one human being. The Sultan not only had an immense complex to enjoy, but riches in clothing, jewels, furniture and finery, as well as a whole complex of concubines too, with a special courtyard area devoted to his favorites, which numbered quite a few from what I could see.

Topkapi Palace is massive and could easily take a whole day to see everything. There is plenty to see here and some nice views of the Bosphorus, including the restaurant area. I am not usually one for museum restaurants, but Konyali is quite good. The food is excellent and the views spectacular. You couldn’t expect anything less in the residence of the Sultans from centuries past. Mind you, I thought Topkapi Palace was a bit overwhelming and, honestly, a shameful display of human excess at it’s very worst. But, I try not to judge the past with my 21st century perspective. Life is what it was back then and different from the world of today.
11 / 11 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Suusj says:
Hi Brian congrats on the feature :).
And thank you for your congrats on mine :).
Posted on: Feb 03, 2017
simsing says:
Congrats on the feature, Brian!
Oops, I congratulated Hali by mistake because her review was the first one for Topkapi Palace!
Have a nice weekend!
Posted on: Feb 03, 2017
Brian, congrats on your featured review. Well done and well deserved.
Posted on: Feb 03, 2017
kmarvi kmarvi
1 reviews
Famous tourist spot Mar 31, 2011
Very nice museum, a must to see. Carries out both the Islamic and Modern treasures. The palace itself is magnificnent and is a must to see
Dr_Seuss Dr_Seuss
216 reviews
Topkapi Palace Dec 06, 2010
It was alright, but nothing really special. Maybe I was just expecting more. More like a series of buildings rather than a grand palace.

Easy walking distance from the other main attractions at the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

Ticket area was a few portakabins up against the wall outside. Beside them were a list of the various areas within the palace, and before going in already knew about half of them were closed. No reduction in price depite it being limited (cost 20TL when I went). Cost more again to enter the Harem, which 1.) I thought was a bit poor and 2.) I had plans to get back to the Blue Mosque.

I did like the open courtyards, and there are some nice buildings within it, but much of it is pretty unspectacular.

The best bit was the religious artefacts held within the Treasury, but there were loads of security people and you couldn't take any pictures.

Some of the exhibitions were quite crowded, even in December, which I thought encouraging, but exited wondering what the fuss was about.

Probably somewhere that will be on people's lists of things to do in Istanbul, and if you have the time then it would be OK. If pressed though I would skip it, you won't miss out on that much.
Gate Of Salutation
First Courtyard
Gate Of Felicity
Audience Chamber
5 / 5 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
halilee says:
Congrats on your feature & I must say I pretty much agreed with you!
Posted on: Dec 02, 2012
vulindlela says:
Congrats on a second day of feature!
Posted on: Dec 02, 2012
monky says:
Congrats on being featured Ian have a great weekend!:D
Posted on: Dec 01, 2012
42 reviews
Topkapi Palace! Mar 01, 2009
We're staying about three hours at the Topkapi palace, but you can stay there a whole day, so much to see and to wonder about!

Topkapı Palace constructed by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, (the Conqueror) in 1478 has been the official residence of the Otoman Sultans and center of State Administration around 380 years until the construction of Dolmabahçe Palace by Sultan Abdülmecid. The palace having around 700.000 m.² area during the foundation years has currently 80.000 m.² area.

Topkapı Palace was evacuated by the accommodation of the Palace inhabitants in Dolmabahçe, Yıldız and in other palaces. Upon abandoning by the Sultans, Topkapı Palace where many officials resided had also never lost its importance. The palace was repaired from time to time. A special attention was taken for the annual maintenance of Mukaddes Emanetler Dairesi (Sacred Safekeeping Rooms) visited by the sultan and his family during Ramadan.

The opening of Topkapı Palace for visits as museum happened firstly in the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861). The belongings within Topkapı Palace Treasury was shown to the contemporary English ambassador. Later on, it has become a tradition to show the antics within the Topkapı Palace Treasury to the foreigners and during the era of Sultan Abdulaziz (1861-1876), showrooms are made in French style, and these antics are started to be shown to foreigners in these showrooms within Treasury. During the period when Sultan II Abdulhamid was dethroned (1876-1909), it was thought to open the Treasury Room to public visits on Sundays and Tuesdays, yet it never realized.

By the order of Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Topkapı Palace firstly affiliated to the Istanbul Asar-ı Atika Museums Directorate and opened to public visits on date of April 3, 1924, then it started to service as Treasury Chamberlain, after it was renamed as Treasury Directorate and finally it was renamed as Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate and it still continues its services.
JP-NED says:
Thanks Murat!
Posted on: Oct 29, 2009
Bluetraveler says:
Wow! Nice review :))
Posted on: Oct 29, 2009
Eric Eric
408 reviews
Too expensive, but hard to skip... Dec 25, 2008
Topkapi is one of those tourist sites that you feel compelled to go to, whatever the cost, because when is the next time you are going to be in Istanbul? The entry fees are way over the top, even for Turkey (where high entrance fees abound!). It's 20 YTL just to get in, then another 10 YTL if you want to see the harem (supposedly the most impressive part). The audio tour is an additional 5 YTL, and guided tours run much more. So basically, you are going to be paying $20-30 just to see the place, making it one of the most expensive "museums" in the world to visit.

One frustrating thing about Turkey is that often you'll buy a ticket to enter a place, and then once you get in you'll find that you have to buy an "additional" ticket just to see the best part. Sometimes you even have to pay to use the restrooms, after you've already paid to get in!

The palace is impressive enough, and a lot of the objects, especially in the treasury, are incredible if you like looking at shiny, expensive things. I didn't buy the tickets to visit the harem, which is supposedly the best part, but I wasn't convinced based on reading the descriptions. Some of the "artifacts" in the museum (I think one of them was a nearly mint condition bowl that Moses supposedly used) seemed a little bit too fanciful, and too well preserved, to be true, which also impacted my experience.

Overall -- beautiful objects in the treasury, good views of Istanbul from the walls, but way too expensive for what you get. Unfortunately, since most people are going to be in Istanbul once, everyone seems to end up paying. Phil said it was half the price when he visted a few years ago, and I wouldn't be surprised if prices double again in the next few years as Turkey becomes even more popular as a tourist destination.

If you have to choose between this and the nearby Archeological museum, opt for the Archeological museum.
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
meersan meersan
6 reviews
Sep 24, 2005
Topkapı Palace was #3 on my list of Things To See in Istanbul (behind the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia). The home of the sultan and his family for nearly 400 years, Topkapı was the administrative center of the Ottoman empire until 1853. Today the palace is still very well-preserved, but keep in mind Topkapi is more a complex of buildings and courtyards as opposed to a single, European-style castle. Overall I was very impressed with the quality of the exhibits and the beautifully-preserved buildings. It really felt like a palace in which people lived and worked, rather than a lifeless museum.There are many things to see in Topkapı. Most of the buildings are open to visitors and contain exhibits including period furniture, clothing, jewels, religious relics, and items received by the sultans as gifts over the centuries such as Chinese jade and pottery. A real highlight for me was the Imperial Costumes collection, which holds actual garments worn by the sultans. It was amazing to see clothing over 500 years old in absolute pristine condition!If you like, you can also tour the harem, which costs an additional fee. The harem tour takes 4 hours, so if you have the time you may wish to give it a shot. I decided to skip it.Be sure to keep your ticket stub as you will need it to visit the Treasury. This amazing exhibit contained items such as jeweled thrones, a gold cradle, gold plates and dishes, and a jaw-dropping 86 carat diamond. The story told to us by our guide stated that the diamond was originally found by a beggar in a garbage heap in Istanbul. He bartered it to a spoonmaker in exchange for three wooden spoons, hence its nickname the "Spoonmaker Diamond". Eventually the diamond ended up in the hands of the sultan, but whether or not he paid anything for it is unknown! In the Treasury you can also view the famous Topkapi dagger, which has very large emeralds set into the hilt and a clock built into the pommel. I'm not sure why you'd need a timepiece built into a dagger, but perhaps it was the equivalent of a cell phone camera in its day.Of all the things I saw at Topkapı, however, the thing that sticks with me most is the Pavilion of Holy Relics. Here you can see relics of the Prophet Muhammed and his caliphs, including swords, early fragments of the Koran, hairs from the Prophet's beard, and even an impression of his footprint. There is an imam present at all times to read the Koran in Arabic. Lastly, there is a piece of the Black Stone of Mecca (Makkah). For non-Muslims, this is the closest you will ever get to the Ka'bah! Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.Topkapı Palace has an excellent view of the Bosphorus from the fourth courtyard (near the fountain). You can get some great pictures from here.The palace gift shop is located next to the ticketing station. You can also purchase postcards from the numerous street vendors outside the palace. They accept Turkish lira, euros, and American dollars.I had a great time at Topkapı Palace. For the price of a ticket, it's a can't-miss.
Entrance to Topkapı Palace
The Baghdad Pavilion
View of the fourth courtyard
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
TravellinChic says:
great review :-)
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013
rubaroo says:
bfully written again! :) let me check ur pther articles now...
Posted on: Oct 29, 2007
stagsa says:
Would be most interested in your comments about Athens and the isles. Greece is one of my most favorite places!!
Posted on: Dec 15, 2005

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