The Topkapi Palace is among the most visited museums in Istanbul. In this article, you can find updated information about the Topkapi Palace entrance fee and opening hours. In addition, the history of the Topkapi Palace is also briefly noted.
During the high tourist season, it is possible to enter the Topkapi Palace with online tickets. You can join the guided Topkapi Palace tour by purchasing a ticket from the link at the end of the article.
History of the Topkapi Palace
The history of Topkapi Palace goes back 550 years, to the rise of the Ottoman Empire. It was built by Sultan Mehmed after the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottomans and remained the residence of the Sultans for nearly 400 years.
When the Ottomans captured Constantinople, the historical peninsula of Istanbul, they realized that the Byzantine Empire, which was in the period of collapse, had not done the necessary maintenance work (of course for financial reasons). The most important monuments of the city, such as the Great Palace, Hagia Sophia and Hippodrome, were in poor condition.
The main reason for the neglect of the city was the Latin occupation of the Byzantine capital between 1204 and 1261. Looted and neglected for 57 years, the city was finally taken back by the Byzantines, but it never returned to its former glory.
Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror
Sultan Mehmed was one of the best educated sultans in Ottoman history. When he conquered Istanbul, he was aware of the history of the city. According to Turkish historians, the first thing he did after the fall of the city was to see Hagia Sophia, which he was very curious about.
Sultan Mehmed, who watched the city from the roof of Hagia Sophia, was saddened by the neglected Great Palace. The Great Palace of Constantinople, where great emperors like Constantine and Justinian lived, had already become ruin. Due to this state of the Great Palace, the Byzantine emperors lived in the Palace of Blachernae in the last years of the empire.
Construction of the Old Palace
Sultan Mehmed first built a palace where today’s Istanbul University (and the Grand Bazaar) is located. This place, called the Old Palace, was the place where the sultan lived while the Topkapi Palace was under construction. The Topkapi Palace was built on the ruins of the Byzantium, the Greek acropolis, which was the pre-Roman settlement of the city.
The Ottomans built the palace between 1461 and 1478. The architecture of the palace resembles a castle and contains all the buildings a small city needs. Sultan Mehmet built Topkapı Palace to work, relax and carry out state affairs. For this reason, there was no Harem section in the main plan of Topkapi Palace. The Harem moved to the Palace much later in the middle of the 16th century.
The palace where 25 sultans lived during the most powerful period of the Ottoman Empire; It has a very simple structure in terms of architecture. Visiting the Topkapi Palace offers views of the Bosphorus and plenty of outdoor walking.
The exact meaning of “Topkapi” is the Canon Gate. “Saray” means palace in Turkish. In the past, there were huge cannons on the southern facade of the palace overlooking the Sea of Marmara. For this reason, this name was given to the palace in public language. The official name of the palace was the Great Palace.
Things to See in Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace is a palace consisting of four large courtyards. It has a very different architecture from European palaces. The most important historical monument to be seen in the first courtyard is Hagia Eirene, a Byzantine church. After passing this beautiful church you will see the ticket offices on the right. After purchasing the Topkapi Palace tickets, you can enter the palace through the gate, which is surrounded by two big towers.
1. Divan-ı Humayun (Imperial Council)
The Imperial Council consists of two rooms. One of these rooms carries traditional Turkish decoration with blue tiles and pencil works. The neighboring room was damaged in a fire and rebuilt. The restoration was carried out during the period when the Ottoman Empire was under French influence. Therefore, it carries the inspiration of western architecture.
2. Collection of Clocks and Weapons
Next to the Imperial Council rooms there is a Collection of Clocks that are presented to the Ottoman sultans. And next to the Clock Room a Collection of Weapons with centuries-old swords and rifles can be seen.
3. Palace Kitchens
On the opposite side of the courtyard is the palace kitchens. You can see the traces of two different periods in Ottoman palace life in palace kitchens. In the early period of the Ottoman Empire, chinese porcelain was used on the ground table, while in the late period there was a western table setting.
4. Harem Rooms
The entrance of the Harem is in the second courtyard, right next to the Imperial Council. Since the Harem Rooms are under renovation for many years, the walking route changes constantly. The harem was not in the original plan of the palace and was confined to a narrow space because it was added later.
Sultan Mehmed, who had built the Topkapı Palace, had designed the Harem to remain in the Old Palace. However, during the Suleiman the Magnificent, the Harem moved to the Topkapi Palace at the request of Hurrem Sultan (also known as Roxelana).
The standard Topkapi Palace tickets does not include the Harem section. You will need extra tickets to visit the Harem. Istanbul Museum Pass is valid in the Harem Rooms.
5. Audience Hall
State affairs during the Ottoman period were discussed in the Divan (Imperial Council). These meetings were chaired by the Grand Vizier. The issues discussed in the meetings that took place almost every day of the week were conveyed to the sultan in the Audience Hall. This is the first section you will see in the third courtyard of Topkapi Palace.
6. Sacred Relics
When you start to walk around the third courtyard clockwise, you will first see the Portraits Section of the Sultans on your left wing. The most interesting part of the courtyard, especially for Muslim visitors, is the room with Sacred Relics. This room contains belongings of the Prophet Muhammad.
7. Imperial Treasury
The most visited section in Topkapi Palace is the Imperial Treasury where the jewels are exhibited. This is where the most valuable objects such as Spoonmaker’s Diamond and Topkapi Dagger are located.
8. Mecidiye Pavilion
When you leave the Treasury Room you can go to the next courtyard. The most beautiful part of the fourth and last courtyard is where the Mecidiye Pavilion was built in the 19th century. Here you can photograph the magnificent view of the Bosphorus.
9. Baghdat Pavilion
In the back of the garden, there are the pavilions of Baghdad and Revan. you can watch the beautiful view of the golden horn as the sultans once did. The interior decoration of the Baghdad Pavilion is one of the last works before the Ottomans switched to western architectural elements. The interior decoration of the Baghdad Pavilion carries traces of Persian, Arabic and Turkish art.
Topkapi Palace Entrance Fee 2021
Topkapi Palace entrance fee is 200 Turkish Liras as of 2021. The ticket price includes the Hagia Irene Museum in the first courtyard of the palace and the audio guide. In order to visit the Harem section, it is necessary to purchase extra ticket for 100 Turkish Lira. However, if you have an Istanbul Museum Pass card, you can enter all three.
If you buy Museum Pass Istanbul, you can also visit the Galata Tower, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum and the Istanbul Archaeological Museum for free. However, Istanbul Museum Pass is not valid in Dolmabahce Palace and Basilica Cistern.
Topkapi Palace Opening Hours 2021
Topkapi Palace opening hours are between 09:00 in the morning and 18:00 in the evening. Ticket sales end at 17:00. Please note that Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays.
Depending on Covid-19 measures, there may be changes in the entrance hours of the museums in Istanbul. Before going to the museum, I recommend you to visit the official website of the palace and review the latest situation.
Buy Topkapi Palace Tickets Online
You can enter the palace faster if you buy tickets for Topkapi Palace online. These tickets are slightly more expensive than standard palace tickets but allow you to take a guided group tour. Thus, you skip the ticket lines in front of the Topkapi Palace entrance during the tourist season.
You may browse Skip The Line Topkapi Palace Tickets from here which is really reasonable! Tickets are sold under the guarantee of GetYourGuide, an international company. Easy cancellation with a FULL REFUND up to 24 hours in advance.
Topkapi Palace Entrance Fee and Hours 2021