The Topkapı Palace

Cannon Gate Palace is a large museum in the eastern part of Istanbul’s Fatih district. It was the main residence and administrative center of the Ottoman Sultan. Topkapi originally called it “New Palace” to distinguish it from the Old Palace. In the 19th century, it was named Topkapi, meaning cannon gate. The palace complex is located on Cape Serraglio, a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn where the Bosphorus meets the Sea of ​​Marmara, and it sits at one of the highest points on the sea.

The complex has expanded over the centuries, undergoing extensive renovations after the 1509 earthquake and 1665 fire.

The Topkapi Palace Museum is famous not only for its architecture and collections, but also for its memorable Ottoman history and culture.

Over 30 sultans ruled the Topkapi Palace, beginning with Sultan Mehmed II who ordered the building of the palace during his reign. Mehmed II established the basic layout of the palace. His private quarters would be located at the highest point of the promontory. Mehmed’s original layout has been preserved, consisting of four consecutive courtyards surrounded by high walls. Each courtyard served a different purpose and was divided by gates that gradually restricted the entrance, culminating in the third and fourth courtyards. The entire complex is surrounded by high walls, some of which date back to the Byzantine-era Acropolis.

Female members of the Turkish sultan’s family lived in a harem, and key politicians, including high dignitaries, held meetings in the imperial council building. To enter or exit the harem, residents had to walk through the cobbled courtyards of the black eunuchs to the main gate, also called the Royal Gate. It became the sultan’s residence when Murad III built an apartment there in the 16th century.

The Chamber of Secrets of Murad III is the oldest and best-preserved building in the harem, designed by Sinan, one of the most famous architects of the Ottoman Empire.

Abdulmejid I moved the imperial family from Topkapi Palace to the newly built Dolmabahce Palace, In the mid-19th century. When the palace became a museum in 1924, many buildings were renovated and parts of the complex were often closed for this purpose. The museum receives over 3 million visitors annually.

The Topkapi Palace Museum is a very popular tourist destination in Istanbul and one where visitors can truly be amazed by its sheer size. It is far less popular with visitors, but nevertheless offers a delightful network of quaint lanes and alleys, majestic Bosphorus panoramas, and an impressive lodging option for all budgets and tastes.

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