Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi)
To understand the history of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul, explore the vast Topkapi Palace. The complex has elegant chambers, landscaped grounds, and small museum collections to admire, as well as a viewpoint over the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.
Guided tours, which offer a more comprehensive experience, often allow you to skip the long entry lines with a guide, and usually include a visit to the palace’s harem section. Many Istanbul sightseeing tours combine Topkapi Palace with an exploration of the other top sights, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya), and the Basilica Cistern.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Topkapi Palace is a must-visit for history and architecture buffs, and all first-time visitors to Istanbul.
Book a skip-the-line ticket to save time and avoid long entry lines.
The palace’s harem section requires a separate entry ticket.
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, as the palace complex is large and you will be on your feet.
The complex is accessible to wheelchair users, though strollers are not permitted.
How to Get There
The entrance to Topkapi Palace is not far from Istanbul’s Sultanahmet tram stop and is easily accessible by public transportation. Stroll through Sultanahmet Square from the tram stop to reach the palace’s entrance. Alternatively, take a taxi or a short walk from the Eminonu ferry terminal.
When to Get There
Topkapi Palace is typically open Wednesday through Monday from the mid-morning 'til the late afternoon between October and March, and to the early evening between April and September; last entry is always 45 minutes before close. It’s also open on most of the major national and religious Turkish holidays, though occasionally with shorter opening hours. The palace is often quite busy, so arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds.
Architecture in Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace’s architecture features work from some of the most prominent Ottoman architects in Turkey, including Mimar Sinan. He designed the palace’s harem section, with its elaborate blue Iznik tiles. Purchase a skip-the-line tour to access the harem ahead of the crowds. Other sections of the palace feature work by architects from other Ottoman centuries, making the palace particularly fascinating for Turkish architecture enthusiasts.
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- Hagia Irene (Aya Irini)
- Gülhane Park (Gülhane Parki)
- Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)
- Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)
- Hippodrome (Sultanahmet Meydani)
- Hodjapasha Culture Center (Hocapasa Kültür Merkezi)
- Galata Bridge (Galata Köprüsü)
- Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)
- Arasta Bazaar
- Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Türk Islam Eserleri Müzesi Hizmete)
- Sultanahmet District
- Great Palace Mosaic Museum
- Serpent Column (Yilani Sütun)
- Eminonu Pier (Eminönü Iskelesi)