Topkapi Palace

The Sultans’ royal residence for four centuries, today Topkapi Palace is a spectacular museum.

TravelCurious Tip

Look closely at the ancient trees in the palace gardens: a fungal disease has left many of their trunks completely hollow, but they remarkably still survive, sometimes with new trees growing inside.

Truly palatial

Topkapi, meaning ‘cannon gate’ after a now lost feature, is a massive complex of buildings surrounding four main courtyards. Its hundreds of rooms once housed around 4,000 people; it contained bakeries, a mint, mosques and its own hospital. This was the seat of the Ottoman sultanate from 1465 to 1856.

The Sultans gradually lost interest in Topkapi after the 17th century, moving to palaces along the Bosphorus; after Abdül Mecid I moved court to the European-style Dolmabahçe Palace in 1856, Topkapi retained only the functions of imperial mint, treasury and library. With the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, it was - like the Hagia Sophia - converted to a museum.

Ottoman treasures

Today, Topkapi houses some of Islam’s most holy relics, including the sword and cloak of the Prophet. Visitors can admire vast collections of Ottoman miniatures, furniture, jewellery, armour and more; no less magnificent are its architectural features, including the crenellated Gate of Salutation with its two octagonal pointed towers, and the elaborate chamber of the Imperial Council.

The stunning Imperial Harem alone contains no less than 400 rooms. These private quarters housed the Sultan, his children, a staff of eunuchs, and his concubines: the concubines were not allowed to leave without the express permission of the Valide Sultan, the Sultan’s mother, who had the largest and most important apartments. Her dining room, reception room and bedroom are open to the public, as are the Harem’s courtyards, baths and Privy Chambers: you must pay extra to enter the Harem, but it is well worth it.

The Palace’s beautiful kiosks, mosques, libraries and gardens all add to an enchanting experience. Spend a full day here and be transported to the opulent centre of the mighty Ottoman Empire.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Istanbul
Hagia Sophia
The height of Byzantine architecture, the Hagia Sophia is one of Istanbul’s must-see attractions.
The Harem of the Sultans
With over 300 tiled and ornate rooms, the harem was where the royal family's apartments and private retreat were.
The Circumcision Room
Under the Ottoman Empire, each year there were circumcision ceremonies and festivals, which took place for days on end, in which the many princes of the empire were circumcised.
Apartments of the Queen Mother
Because the sultans were often young, the woman whose children became sultan were exulted above all others living in the harem and were given special quarters to represent their unique status.
Library of Ahmed III
Known for his lavish expenses, Ahmed III (sultan from 1703-1730) added several rooms to the Topkapi Palace, amongst them - three libraries.
Imperial Treasury Room at the Topkapi Palace
Comprising of several rooms, the treasury rooms at the palace are some of the most lavish in the entire palace, full of artifacts from the Ottoman Empire, including large diamonds and gold-encrusted objects.

Related Tours

Private Guided Topkapi Palace Museum and Hagia Irene Tour
In a city of opulent, historical buildings, the Topkapi Palace is one of Istanbul’s finest relics of Ottoman history and architecture.  On your private tour of the Topkapi Palace, you will:

  • Sit back, relax and enjoy the comforts of a private vehicle throughout the tour, including hotel pick-up and drop-off;
  •  Enjoy the personalized attention of your private licensed guide.;
  • Visit the Palace and Harem with skip-the-line (tickets included in the tour price);
  • Expertly navigate through the hundreds of rooms of this magnificent Palace, home of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years;
  • Visit the recently renovated Ottoman Imperial Harem;
  • Explore the Hagia Irene, a hidden gem in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace;
  • Explore the Circumcision Room, the Library of Ahmed III, and the Apartments of the Queen Mother;
  • End the tour inside the Topkapi Palace by the treasury, home to the Spoonmaker's Diamond and the Topkapi Dagger, which you can explore at your own leisure. 
Once the residence of countless Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th century, the Topkapi Palace has been an operating museum since the early 20th century. With spectacular walls which encompass it, and four courts within it – each of which served a different purpose, the museum and the history of the Ottomans it contains are best explored with a private guide. Once inside, you will have the chance to visit the Harem—the living quarters of the imperial family, where the rituals, traditions, and ceremonies of the royal family were performed. Your tour ends in the fabulous Treasury, where you will have the chance to explore further on your own. 

Please note that in the Topkapi Palace, photography is not permitted inside the exhibition halls and prams are prohibited. Please dress appropriately and bring covers for your knees and shoulders. 
Istanbul's Old City: Full-Day Private All Inclusive Highlights Tour
With this full-day highlights tour of Istanbul, you will gain a culturally-rich experience of both European and Asian traditions. On your full-day tour, you will:

  • Enjoy the comforts of a private vehicle throughout the tour, including hotel pick-up and drop-off;
  • Enjoy the personalized attention of your private licensed guide;
  • Hear stories of the Ottoman sultans as you wander through the Topkapı Palace (tickets included);
  • Visit the recently renovated Harem section of the Topkapi Palace (tickets included);
  • Explore the Hagia Irene, a hidden gem in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace;
  • Learn about Istanbul's rich and exciting history at the Hippodrome of Constantinople;
  • Marvel at the elegance of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), famed for its 6 minarets and beautiful blue decorative tiles;
  • Take in the grandeur of Hagia Sophia as you enjoy a fully guided tour of one of the most important Byzantine structures in the world;
  • Pause for a traditional Turkish lunch (not included in the price);
  • Descend beneath the city into the otherworldly Serefiye Cistern,  the oldest building in the world with a 360° projection mapping system;
  • Expertly navigate through the Grand Bazaar and learn about Turkish trade and local traditions;
  • End the tour by the Galata Bridge with a magnificent view, or enjoy a private transfer back to your hotel or the preferred location. 

In this full-day highlights tour of the great city of Istanbul, you will have the pleasure of visiting some of the most iconic attractions of the city, accompanied by your knowledgeable expert city guide. Starting with the Hippodrome of Constantinople, once used as an ancient Roman running and chariot racing track, and the epicenter of Byzantine life. 

You will then head to the absolutely stunning Blue Mosque, one of the most beautiful buildings in Istanbul, which was the 17th-century triumph of Sultan Ahmet I. Look for the mosque's unique undulating exterior, featuring myriad domes and six slender minarets. Gorgeous blue Iznik tiles adorn the interior, giving the building its unique name. 

Venturing forth to the Hagia Sophia, commissioned by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, consecrated as a church in 537, converted to a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, and finally promoted as a museum by Atatürk in 1935- you will find the exquisite artistry of Byzantine architecture and rich history of the region than this great temple.

You will be pleased to pause for a delicious traditional Turkish lunch (not included in the price), after which you will be immersed in the fascinating history of Topkapi Palace. Extremely opulent, it was once the residence of countless Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th century. Look for the palace's fabulous pavilions, unbelievable Treasury, and formal rooms, and don't miss the magnificent Harem rooms!

You will then venture underground to the awe-inspiring Serefiye Cistern, where you will learn about its impressive construction.  It is the oldest building in the world with a 360° projection mapping system. Finishing off this once-in-a-lifetime tour, you will visit the colorful Grand Bazaar, which was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461. Explore the narrow lanes to watch craftsmen and artists at work, whilst stopping for an obligatory cup of traditional Turkish tea. End the tour by the Galata Bridge with a magnificent view or enjoy a private transfer back to your hotel or the preferred location. 


Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.


Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.