Topkapi Palace is among the best preserved Ottoman palaces, located on the spot where settlement in Istanbul began. A visit to its quarters provides insight into the Ottoman history of the Turkish city. The 15th-century Topkapi Palace was converted into a museum under Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, in 1924.
While the palace is a dream for history buffs, some visitors come here just for the views; the palace looks out over the Golden Horn, a natural harbor in Istanbul, the Bosphorus Strait and the Sea of Marmara.
The site covers 173 acres (70 hectares) and is surrounded by over 3 miles (5 kilometers) of walls. Admire the towering gates, tree-lined courtyards and classical Turkish buildings, which once housed Ottoman sultans and their followers. It grew and changed over the reigns of successive sultans, each of whom would leave his own mark on the palace.
Visit the harem, the private space in the palace where a sultan’s family lived along with the concubines and eunuchs in their service. The harem was traditionally inaccessible to outsiders, which invoked myths and legends about what happened there. These days, only part of it is open to the public, but you can still see the 40-roomed section allocated to the sultan’s mother and the large baths and domed hall where the sultan spent his free time.
Even after hundreds of years, the palace is still a place of grandeur. The courtyards hold numerous striking examples of Turkish art and architecture. In the kitchens there are 12,000 pieces of Chinese and Japanese porcelain.
In the outer courtyard, admire the Hagia Irene, a striking Orthodox church that is now often used as a concert hall. It’s also a museum, but you’ll need special permission to visit.
The Topkapi Palace in the Old City of Istanbul has no tour guide service, but you’ll find plenty of private tour guides waiting in front of the ticket booths. The palace is open daily, except Tuesdays.
There are heaps of cool ways to get the most out of Topkapi Palace. Here's a list of some of the best ones:
Peruse our Istanbul things to do page to learn about even more activities in the area.
Search over 895,000 properties worldwide and 550 airlines worldwide.
Search over a million flights, hotels, packages, and more
No Expedia cancellation fee to change or cancel almost any hotel reservation.
This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, within a 5-minute walk of German Fountain, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia. Grand Bazaar and Cagaloglu Hamami are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is only a 2-minute walk and Cemberlitas Station is 5 minutes.
Located in Sultanahmet, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, and Cagaloglu Hamami. Grand Bazaar and Cemberlitas Bath are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is only a 2-minute walk and Gulhane Station is 7 minutes.
Located in Sultanahmet, this luxury hotel is steps from Basilica Cistern and Cagaloglu Hamami. Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazaar are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is only a 2-minute walk and Gulhane Station is 6 minutes.
This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, steps from Sogukcesme Sokagi, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia. Istanbul Archaeology Museum and Cagaloglu Hamami are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is 5 minutes by foot and Gulhane Station is 6 minutes.
Located on the banks of the Bosphorus river, this Istanbul hotel is set in its own 65-acre park in the city centre with shops, restaurants and attractions nearby.
Located in Istanbul City Center, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Istanbul Modern Art Museum and Galata Tower. Spice Bazaar and Suleymaniye Mosque are also within 2 mi (3 km). Tophane Station is 6 minutes by foot and Karakoy Station is 7 minutes.
Located in Sultanahmet, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Mosaic Museum, Hagia Sophia, and Basilica Cistern. Grand Bazaar and Cagaloglu Hamami are also within 1 mi (2 km). Istanbul Cankurtaran Station is 5 minutes by foot and Sultanahmet Station is 12 minutes.
This fully renovated historical mansion is located in the center of Sultanahmet facing the Marmara Sea, Hagia Sophia, and Blue Mosque.