Topkapi Palace Museum is more than a museum or a palace. It is such a place where you can spend hours. To get there, again you need to make your way to Sultanahmet neighbourhood. It is located right behind the Hagia Sophia.
In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by Ottomans then the city became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. So, they started building a palace for the Sultans where they could use as and administration center and their residence.
Topkapi Palace is not like European Palaces, actually it is otherwise. This oriental palace is consist of courtyards. Small Chambers and Halls that surrounds the courtyards were converted in to the exhibition room today. Sultan’s private items and more are on display.
After the foundation of Turkish Repuplic, it became a museum and is open to public.
Floor Plan of Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace has 4 courtyards. They are numbered. When you reach the main entrance of Palace by the Hagia Sophia, the stone and calighraphy decoration of the gate will take your attention. It is called Babı Humayun which means Imperial Gate. There is a security control at the gate. All the bags are scanned. Then you will find yourself in the first courtyard.
After you walk in the palace from Imperial Gate, then you are at the 1st Courtyard. It looks like a park. There is no admision to get in to first courtard.
It was mainly used as military quarter of the palace. Jennisaries (Ottoman Special Military Unit) were based in this courtyard. In and around the Courtyard, there are some structures. Here are the main ones
1- Church of Hagia Irene (A Byzantine Church) – used as armoury by Ottomans. Now, it is a museum in the palace (open to visitors – there is an entrance fee) 2- Imperial Mint Office (closed to visitors) 3- Units of the Jennisaries (closed to visitors)
You need to buy a ticket first to get in. Ticket offices are in the first courtyard of Topkapi Palace.
In this courtyard; some of the main structures and exhibitions that you will see are like at the below Ps: Entrance of the Harem is at the second courtyard. (It has another admision fee)
1- Imperial Kitchen 2- Imperial Council 3- Imperial Stable (not open to visitors) 4- Clock Section 5- Weaponary
When go through the Gate of Felicity, you will be in the third courtyard and there will be chamber in front you. This chamber was Audience Room like Sultan’s Reception Room.
Some of the main structures and exhibitions are as below;
1- Privy Chamber (Houses of Sacred Trusts) 2- Audience Chamber 3-Imperial Treasury 4-Miniature & Portraits Gallery 5-Library 6-Exhibition of Kaftans
Final Courtyard is the fourthcourtyard. Here is the place where you can have one of the most spectacular view of the city. It is at the edge of the palace. You can watch the both Goldern Horn and Bosphrous.
This section was mainly for the dynasty members. Therefore, there are plenty of pavilions and kiosk at the courtyard. Sultans used to break their Ramadan fast with the view of Goldern Horn and Suleymaniye Mosque in here. Circumcision Room for the boys of dynasty is also in here.
There is a Restaurant and Cafeteria in here. Its name is Konyali Restaurant. Definetly you should give a break in here and enjoy the view during your visit.
Some pictures for you from 4th Courtyard
Harem (Topkapi Palace)
Harem was the house of Sultans. Only members of it was allowed to go in. So, it was the privacy of Sultans. Non members were not allowed to get in – It was forbidden. Haram is an Arabic word which means forbidden. There for they called this section Harem which meant forbidden section.
Harem section has another admission fee. You can purchase the tickets for it from ticket offices. Main Entrance is at the second courtyard. When you get in there you will come out from 3rd courtyard.
Here are some photos from Harem