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Topkapi Palace

The official residence of the Ottoman sultans for about four centuries is now accessible to the public and home to sacred relics.

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.


Guide to Exploring around Topkapi Palace


Map

Lodging Near Topkapi Palace

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$93
Hagia Sophia Hotel Istanbul Old City

Hagia Sophia Hotel Istanbul Old City

Alemdar Mah. Yerebatan Cad.No 13, Istanbul
4.6
of 5, from 142 reviews
0.0 out of 5.0

Located in Old City, this hotel is steps from Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia. Hippodrome and Blue Mosque are also within 10 minutes.

$76
Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus

Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus

Kemankes Kara Mustafa Pasa, Istanbul
4.2
of 5, from 48 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Located in Beyoglu, this spa 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).

$102
Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

Divanyolu Cad. Ticarethane Sok. No:45, Istanbul
4.2
of 5, from 342 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, and Cagaloglu Hamami. Hippodrome and Blue Mosque are also within 10 minutes.

$104
Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel

Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel

Divanyolu Cd. Alemdar Mah., Istanbul
4.2
of 5, from 441 reviews
0.0 out of 5.0

Located in Old City, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of German Fountain, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia. Cagaloglu Hamami and Cemberlitas Bath are also within 5 minutes.

$71
The Ambassador Hotel

The Ambassador Hotel

Ticarethane Cikmazi No 19, Istanbul
4.3
of 5, from 471 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located in Old City, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, and Cagaloglu Hamami. Hippodrome and Blue Mosque are also within 10 minutes.

$43
Tria Hotel - Special Class

Tria Hotel - Special Class

Akbiyik Cad Terbiyik Sok No 7, Istanbul
3.8
of 5, from 218 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Old City, this romantic hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace. Grand Bazaar is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) away.

$49
Hotel Sapphire

Hotel Sapphire

ibnikemal Caddesi No:14 Sirkeci, Istanbul
4.2
of 5, from 26 reviews
0.0 out of 5.0

Located in Old City, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of New Mosque, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia. Grand Bazaar and Hippodrome are also within 15 minutes.

$75
Arden City Hotel - Special Class

Arden City Hotel - Special Class

Alemdar Mah Kazm Ismail Gürkan Cad No2, Istanbul
4.3
of 5, from 224 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Old City, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Cagaloglu Hamami, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia. Hippodrome and Grand Bazaar are also within 10 minutes.