• What's Inside the Topkapi Palace?

If you want to get a taste of true Ottoman grandeur, a visit to Topkapi Palace is a must. The sprawling complex is full of intricate details. Inside, you'll find lavish courtyards and gardens, delicate mosaics and artworks, opulent decorations and collections, as well as stunning views of the cityscape below.

First Courtyard

First Courtyard

The First Courtyard is the only area of the palace that was open to the public during Ottoman times. This is where ceremonies and processions took place. Even if you don't have a ticket, you can still enter this courtyard. To get here, walk past the beautiful Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III from 1729, and enter through the Imperial Gate, which is the main entrance to Topkapi Palace.

There are several interesting structures worth exploring in the complex, including:

The Garden: When you first enter the First Courtyard, you'll be greeted by the beautiful palace gardens. It's a great place to take a stroll and soak up the heritage of the city.

Hagia Irene: This 4th century Byzantine church is the first church built in the city. During Ottoman times, it was used as an arsenal and warehouse. Now it's a museum and hosts classical concerts.

Fountains: There are several fountains, but the most interesting one is the Executioner's Fountain.  It gets its name from the alleged ritual of executioners washing their hands here after an execution.

Topkapi Palace Map: Click Here!

Second Courtyard

Second Courtyard

As you pass through the second gate, the Middle Gate, you'll arrive at the heart of Topkapi Palace. This is where the administrative buildings for the state were located. In this courtyard is also the famous Harem, which many visitors find very interesting. There are also some other remarkable buildings:

Imperial Treasury: The former imperial treasury is definitely worth a visit! You'll be amazed at the massive collection of weapons and armor, which is one of the most important of its kind in the world. There are 52,000 items on display, spanning 1300 years. The collection includes weapons made specifically for the sultans, as well as weapons from Turkish, Arab, Indian, Japanese, and European cultures.

Imperial Council Chamber: This three-story building on the edge of the second courtyard is where the imperial council met four times a week and governed the Ottoman Empire for most of its history. The room to the right displays the palace's clock collection

Tower of Justice: The Tower of Justice, on the left, is an interesting structure. What's interesting is that it's connected to the Harem, which allowed the sultan to enter a small room and eavesdrop on imperial council meetings without being notice noticed.

Palace Kitchens: On the right side of the courtyard, you'll find the Palace Kitchens. These kitchens not only fed the Ottoman royal family, but also the thousands of palace employees. Today, you can see Ottoman kitchen utensils, an impressive collection of Chinese porcelain with over 10,000 exhibits, and other objects belonging to the palace kitchens.

Third Courtyard

Third Courtyard

If you enter the Gate of Felicity, you'll find yourself in the Third Courtyard, which was the Sultan's private residence. Here are some of the attractions you can explore:

Audience Chamber: This 16th century pavilion, with its beautiful facade, was where the Sultan received his viziers, important officials and foreign ambassadors to discuss state affairs. It's interesting to note that inside there are faucets, which were all opened to prevent anyone from eavesdropping.

Library of Sultan Ahmet III: This magnificent building from the Ottoman Tulip Age impresses with its opulent interior. Be amazed by the skilful tiles and doors, which are adorned with inlays made of mother-of-pearl and ivory.

Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force: This 18th century building is home to two chambers that display the palace's rich collection of Sultan's clothing today. You can see imperial robes, uniforms and caftans woven with silver and gold threads.

Sacred Safekeeping Rooms: Some of the most important treasures in the Topkapi Palace are on display in this room, which is decorated with Iznik tiles. These include holy relics of the Prophet Muhammad, such as the hair from his beard, the tooth he lost during the battle of Uhud, and his footprints. Other sacred relics attributed to other prophets are also exhibited, such as the staff of Moses, the sword of David, the tray of Abraham, and the robe of Joseph.

Dormitory of the Privy Chamber: The Privy Chamber, located next to the Sacred Safekeeping Rooms, houses an exhibition of portraits of the Ottoman sultans. In addition to the 36 portraits on display, there is also a collection of calligraphies and miniatures. Of particular note is the first world map by Turkish admiral Piri Reis.

Imperial Treasury: The 15th century Conqueror's Pavilion is a highlight of the palace, with six rooms, a beautiful fountain in the courtyard, and exhibits from the Imperial Treasury. The collections are breathtaking, and include some of the most valuable palace treasures, like precious jewels, heirlooms, and artworks. Be sure not to miss the famous Topkapi Dagger and the 86-carat Spoonmaker's Diamond - the fourth largest diamond of its kind in the world!

Fourth Courtyard

Fourth Courtyard

The Fourth Courtyard is one of the most beautiful places in the palace, filled with lovely pavilions, terraces, and gardens. Highlights include:

Baghdad Pavilion: With a magnificent green and blue Iznik tiled facade, the Baghdad Pavilion is one of the masterpieces of classical Ottoman pavilion architecture. Admire the beautiful interior with colorful tiles, painted ceiling, stained-glass windows, mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell inlay, a fireplace, and a silver grill - a gift from the French King Louis XIV.

Circumcision Chamber: The rectangular room with the impressive facade, adorned with elaborate blue and white tiles is the chamber that was used for the circumcision of the sons of Sultan Ahmed III. With its 16th and 17th century tiles, the interior is equally magnificent.

Iftar Pavilion: The Iftar Pavilion is a beautiful sight with its tulip-shaped gilded roof and four gold-plated copper columns. It's located between the Baghdad Pavilion and Circumcision Chamber, making it a great photo spot.

Yerevan Kiosk: The Yerevan Kiosk is an octagonal pavilion decorated with Mamluk-style marble slabs. When you step inside, you will be amazed by the richly adorned interior, which features hand-drawn patterns in gold leaf, wooden shutters with mother-of-pearl, and a gilded copper fireplace.

Mecidiye Pavilion: The Mecidiye Pavilion is the youngest building in the palace, dating back to 1858. Its architecture showcases influences from European style. Plus, you won't want to miss the stunning view of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus from this exceptional building.

Chamber of the Chief Physician: This two-story building was once the physician's treatment room, serving the sultan and the royal family. Today, in the basement of the building, it shows an exhibition of pharmaceutical instruments and equipment.

Gardens: The Flower Garden awaits you with beautiful tulips, the Pavilion Hall, and the Chamber of the Chief Physician, all accessible by a three-meter-long staircase.

Outer Terrace: One of the most stunning viewpoints of Istanbul can be found in Topkapi Palace’s Fourth Courtyard. Head to the lower level terrace and find the Mecidiye Pavilion for a breathtaking view of the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara.


Harem of Topkapi Palace: Info, Highlights & Tickets

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