Topkapi Palace & Harem

Topkapi Palace is the second and most used palace of Constantinople after its conquest in 1453. The mighty Ottoman Empire was ruled from this complex area during its most powerful era. 

The Palace was built by Mehmet the Conquerer in the most beautiful part of Constantinople which has a beautiful view of the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. It was built between 1460 – 1478. The palace originally was covering 700000 m2 until which is 300000 m2 today.

The Palace has 4 courtyards:

The first courtyard used to be a public area where people could enter for their official business. The first courtyard contains Hagia Eirene, which is one of the few Byzantine churches that were not converted to mosques. The Haga Irene Church was built the 6th century. With its 1500 years history and breath taking Byzantine architecture it is one of the most impressive monuments in the palace.

The second courtyard is where the official state buildings and Imperial Council was. The mighty kitchens and its wonderful collections are also in the second courtyard.

The third courtyard was the Ottoman Sultan’s private area, where they would spend their private daily life. The Enderun (School) where the children of the Sultan would be educated was also in the third courtyard.

The fourth courtyard is the area that has beautiful pavilions that the sultans used during the summers. This is the most beautiful part of the palace as it has the amazing tulip / rose gardens and the most beautiful view.

From the third courtyard there is an entrance to the Harem, where the royal family lived. The Harem was built by Suleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century for his beloved Hurrem Sultan.

In the 19th century, after the Dolmabahce Palace was built the Sultans started to live there and the Topkapi Palace remained as the old palace.

After the foundation of modern Turkish Republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Topkapi Palace became the first museum of Turkey. Now it is one of the main sites that millions of tourists visit every year.