"Topkapi Palace" Topkapi Palace Tip by Hopkid

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul: 277 reviews and 656 photos

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The home of the Ottoman sultans for over 350 years and the famed harem, the Topkapi Palace is one of the must-see sights in Istanbul. One should dedicate at least a half-day to take in its buildings and museum collections. Built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1459 and added on during subsequent reigns, the palace was home to the Ottoman sultans until Abdul Mecit I moved to the more modern Dolmabahce Palace in Begyolu in 1853. The palace was opened as a museum in 1924.

The Harem is the main draw here with some of the buildings/rooms having been designed by the grand architect, Mimar Sinan, and the use of beautiful Iznik tiles throughout. In my opinion the tiles steal the show. Well those and the relic collection. Throughout Europe many cathedrals have relics such as a thread of a cloth that was supposedly Moses', or a drop of blood of Saint Bartholomew. The relic collection at the Topkapi Palace has REAL relics. Hairs from the prophet Mohammed? Check. David's sword? Yup. Moses' staff? Got it. I swear...it says it right on the display placard. Well whether you believe it or not it is pretty interesting. [NOTE: I mean no offence to anyone who truly believes the relics are what they claim to be. Skeptical is my middle name.] The Treasury also has a nice collection of garments worn by palace staff and some of the sultans plus a great collection of gift items presented to the sultans over the years including some pretty cool thrones.

I would recommend getting there as soon as it opens so you can explore the Harem (separate entry fee with a timed entrance) with smaller crowds and then go through the Treasury and Relic collection before having lunch at the restaurant within the palace grounds, Konyali, or the less formal cafeteria-style (but overpriced) outdoor restaurant. Both have great views of the confluence of the Golden Horn and Bosphorus as they meet with the Sea of Marmara. The day we visited there were tons of school groups clogging the museums by about noon.

I would also highly recommend getting the audio guide as there aren't any explanatory placards throughout the palace to explain the significance of rooms, especially in the Harem.

Address: Sogukcesme Sokak, Sultanahmet
Directions: The main entrance located on the northeast end of the small square where Sogukcesme Sokak and Babihumayun Caddesi meet at the northeast corner of the Aya Sofya complex.
Phone: 212.512.04.80
Website: http://topkapisarayi.gov.tr/en

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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