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Topkapi Palace Tours

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Topkapi Palace
Behold the imperial complex of Ottoman sultans at Topkapi Palace, the royal residence in Istanbul throughout the first 400 years of the Ottoman Empire. The palace contains myriad buildings and courtyards, including a treasury, harems, an armory, imperial halls, and royal chambers—all with intricate Iznik tilework and opulent architecture.

The Basics
To understand the history of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul, explore the vast Topkapi Palace. The complex has elegant chambers, landscaped grounds, and small museum collections to admire, as well as a viewpoint over the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.
 
Guided tours, which can offer a more comprehensive experience of the palace, often allow you to skip the long entry lines with a guide, and usually include a visit to the palace’s harem section. Many Istanbul sightseeing tours combine Topkapi Palace with an exploration of the other top sights in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya), and the Basilica Cistern.
 
Things to Know Before You Go
  • Topkapi Palace is a must-visit for history and architecture buffs, and all first-time visitors to Istanbul.
  • Book a skip-the-line ticket to save time and avoid long entry lines.
  • The palace’s harem section requires a separate entry ticket.
  • Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, as the palace complex is large and you will be on your feet.
  • The complex is accessible to wheelchair users, though strollers are not permitted.
 
How to Get There
The entrance to Topkapi Palace is not far from Istanbul’s Sultanahmet tram stop and is easily accessible by public transportation. Stroll through Sultanahmet Square from the tram stop to reach the palace’s entrance. Alternatively, take a taxi or a short walk from the Eminonu ferry terminal.

When to Get There
Topkapi Palace is open Wednesday through Monday from 9am to 4:45pm October through March, and to 6:45pm April through September; last entry is 45 minutes before close. It’s also open on most of the major national and religious Turkish holidays, though occasionally with shorter opening hours. The palace is often quite busy, so arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds.

Architecture in Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace’s architecture features work from some of the most prominent Ottoman architects in Turkey, including Mimar Sinan. He designed the palace’s harem section, with its elaborate blue Iznik tiles. Purchase a skip-the-line tour to access the harem ahead of the crowds. Other sections of the palace feature work by architects from other Ottoman centuries, making the palace particularly fascinating for Turkish architecture enthusiasts.
Address: Gulhane Park, Istanbul 34110, Turkey
Admission: Varies
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Topkapi Palace Admission Ticket with English Speaking Guide

The stunning 15th-century palace of Topkapı is one of Istanbul’s most celebrated attractions, but visitors often squander precious time in long entrance lines. Bypass the long wait with pre-booked admission tickets and spend longer exploring the lavish collections of Ottoman Turkey’s legendary sultans—and their fascinating harem quarters. Tickets can be collected in advance from central pickup points, making for a convenient way to plan your visit.
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The Topkapı Palace or the Seraglio, is a large museum in Istanbul, Turkey. In the 15th century, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans. Construction began in 1459, ordered by Mehmed the Conqueror, six years after the conquest of Constantinople. Topkapı was originally called the "New Palace" to distinguish it from the Old Palace in Beyazıt Square. It was given the name Topkapı, meaning Cannon Gate, in the 19th century. The complex was expanded over the centuries, with major renovations after the 1509 earthquake and the 1665 fire. The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. Female members of the Sultan's family lived in the harem, and leading state officials, including the Grand vizier, held meetings in the Imperial Council building. After the 17th century, Topkapı gradually lost its importance.
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