The Royal Topkapi Palace

Points Covered:

  • History of the Topkapi Palace
  • Structure of the Topkapi Palace
  • Why is the Topkapi Palace Popular?
  • Is the Topkapi Palace the Same as the Hagia Sophia?
  • Things to Know When Visiting the Topkapi Palace.


The Topkapi Palace is a large museum that is located in the east of the faith district of Istanbul, Turkey. The palace complex is located on the seraglio point that overlooked the Golden horn. The building served as the residence and administrative headquarters for the Ottoman sultans that ruled the region at that time. Today, the palace due to its numerous amazing structures & elaborate building design is a major tourist attraction aside from its prestigious status, granted to it by UNESCO as a world heritage center. In this article, we shall examine the palace extensively and give you what you need & more to realize the amazing uniqueness of this marvel.


 The Royal Topkapi Palace


History of the Topkapi Palace


The initial name given to the palace was saray-i-cedid-i-Amire, this was the name until the 18th century during the reign of Mahmud then the name was changed to the name it’s known for today. The construction of the Topkapi Palace began in 1459 after Sultan Mehmed’s II conquest of Istanbul. After that war, the Great Palace of Constantinople was greatly destroyed and so the new emperor ordered the construction of a new palace to replace the old one, he also gave commanded that the new palace to be built should be a very a unique one with structures that cannot be found in any other area in the world. To fulfill the emperor’s wish, the best workmen were hired for the construction of the palace. The emperor himself gave specific orders on where some structures such as where his own private quarters should be located. The architects that worked on the construction of the palace had to ensure that the king and his family still enjoyed privacy in the palace, even with the numerous surrounding buildings that had to be on the palace grounds.  

As time when by and different emperors replaced each other in the palace, a few modifications and adjustments were made to the structure of the palace. These modifications depended on the personal preference of the emperor in power.  In 1574, the Topkapi Palace suffered a fire disaster, and some major parts of the palace were destroyed. It then fell onto the shoulders of Sultan Selim to repair the damaged part of the palace. Sultan Selim then employed one of the greatest architects of his time Mimar Shian to carry out the renovation of the damaged section of the palace. Sinan renovated the palace and even expanded some other places such as the Harem, baths, privy chamber, and the shoreline pavilions. By the end of the 16th century, the place had assumed the structure that it is known for today. 


 The Royal Topkapi Palace


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Structure of the Topkapi Palace


Since the Topkapi Palace was constructed by the best workmen, so one can expect the structures of the palace to be almost perfect. To analyze the structure of the Topkapi Palace, we shall divide the palace into smaller units and address each unit one after the other. These units include The imperial gate, The first courtyard, The second courtyard, the Third courtyard, The Harem, and The Fourth courtyard.



  • The Imperial Gate

The imperial gate of Topkapi Palace is the first thing that betrays the magnificence of the palace itself. The massive stone gate has a central arc that leads to a high domed passage that is beautified with ottoman calligraphy with verses from the Quran.



  • The First Courtyard 

The first courtyard is the largest of all the four courtyards in the palace. Its steep slope that leads towards the sea had already been terraced during the Byzantine rule. Although not all the structures of this courtyard are still standing, its large gate of salutation that leads to the palace and the second courtyard is still standing. Although its date of construction is not certain, traces of Byzantine influence can be observed in its architecture.


  • The Second Courtyard

The second courtyard was completed around 1465, it is surrounded by the former Topkapi Palace hospital, bakery, janissary quarters, stables, the imperial harem and divan to the north, and kitchen to the south. Also located under the second courtyard is a cistern that date was used during the Ottoman times to keep luxurious animals such as peacocks and gazelles. 


  • The Third and Fourth Courtyard

The third courtyard also called the inner palace is the heart of Topkapi Palace, it is a lush garden surrounded by the hall of the privy chamber, the treasury the harem, and the library. The fourth courtyard, on the other hand, is more of an innermost private sanctuary of the sultan and his family, it also consists of a number of pavilions, kiosks gardens, and terraces. It was originally part of the third courtyard but has since been distinguished as a separate place.



 The Royal Topkapi Palace


Why is the Topkapi Palace Popular?


The Topkapi Palace is primarily popular because of the many important and unique structures and buildings that are present in the palace. There are a lot of rooms, exhibition halls, gardens treasuries, and many other buildings that tourists can explore in this wonderful palace. Also, the fact that it served as an administrative base for the ottoman empire contributes to enhancing its popularity. 


 The Royal Topkapi Palace


Is the Topkapi Palace the Same as the Hagia Sophia?

The Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia are two different places. The Hagia Sophia is a religious structure that was constructed around Ad 537, it initially served as a cathedral, later on, a mosque and now a museum. The Topkapi Palace, on the other hand, is not a religious building, rather, it was built to serve as a palace and an administrative base for the Ottoman sultans. 


 The Royal Topkapi Palace


Things to Know when Visiting the Topkapi Palace.

If you want to have a perfect time on your visit to the Topkapi Palace, below are some important things you should do
First of all, get your ticket online before the visit. Getting your tickets online will save you from the stress of queueing for tickets to enter the museum. If you cannot get the tickets online, then ensure you come very early to get your tickets.


Also, if you want to avoid queues and delays, then the best time for you to visit is on Monday morning as at this time, there is usually a small number of people around the museum. Also, on winter days, there are almost no queues at all, thus this time is also a perfect time for you to enjoy the Topkapi Palace without a crowd. 

Finally, be careful when you examine the materials and structures of the palace, try as much as possible to avoid causing harm to these very valuable materials.


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