Saturday, September 23, 2017


Sultanahmet, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'31.0"N 28°58'53.3"E / 41.008612, 28.981477



The Topkapı Palace (Turkish: Topkapı Sarayı) is a palace in Istanbul, Turkey, which was the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans, from 1465 to 1853. The palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments and is a major tourist attraction today. The name directly translates as "Cannongate Palace", from the palace being named after a nearby, now lost gate.

Topkapı Palace was home to all the Ottoman Sultans until the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid I (1839-1860), a period of nearly four centuries. The order for the construction of the Topkapı Palace on the Seraglio Point overlooking both Marmara and Bosphorus was given by Sultan Mehmed II after the conquest of Constantinapolis in 1453. The place was then an ancient olive grove. The final form of the first palace covered an area 700.000 m2 area during the foundation years has currently 80.000 m2 area and was enclosed with fortified walls 1400 meters in length.

Topkapı Palace constructed by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, (the Conqueror) in 1478 has been the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans and center of State Administration around 380 years until the construction of Dolmabahçe Palace by Sultan Abdülmecid. The main portal, the Bab-i Humayun, was suited next to the mosque of Ayasofya (Haghia Sophia Church), and this led a series of four courts surrounded by various structures. The courts, chambers, pavilions and other sections can be viewed at the floor plan of Topkapı Palace.

The walls were pierced by a number of gates, namely the Otluk gate, the Demir gate and the Imperial gate (Bab-i Humayun), and a number of minor angled gates between them. After the reign of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror, the palace grew steadily to form a city like complex of buildings and annexes, including a shore palace known as the Topkapı shore palace, as it was situated near the cannon gate "Topkapı" of the ancient walls of Istanbul. When the shore palace was burned down in 1863, it lent its name to the great complex we now know as Topkapı Palace.

Topkapı Palace gradually lost its importance at the end of the 17th century, as the Sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosporus. In 1853, Sultan Abdül Mecid I decided to move the court to the newly built Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in the city. Some functions, such as the imperial treasury, the library, mosque and mint, were retained though.

Topkapı Palace was evacuated by the accommodation of the Palace inhabitants in Dolmabahçe, Yıldız and in other palaces. Upon abandoning by the Sultans, Topkapı Palace where many officials resided had also never lost its importance. The palace was repaired from time to time. A special attention was taken for the annual maintenance of Mukaddes Emanetler Dairesi (Sacred Safekeeping Rooms) visited by the sultan and his family during Ramadan.


The opening of Topkapı Palace for visits as museum happened firstly in the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861). The belongings within Topkapı Palace Treasury was shown to the contemporary English ambassador. Later on, it has become a tradition to show the antics within the Topkapı Palace Treasury to the foreigners and during the era of Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876), showrooms are made in French style, and these antics are started to be shown to foreigners in these showrooms within Treasury.

During the period when Sultan Abdülhamid II was dethroned (1876-1909), it was thought to open the Treasury Room to public visits on Sundays and Tuesdays, yet it never realized.

After the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, Topkapı Palace was transformed by government decree on April 3, 1924 into a museum of the imperial era. The Topkapı Palace Museum is under the administration of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public today. The complex is guarded by officials of the ministry as well as armed guards of the Turkish military.

Upon the performance of small repairs and taking some administrative cautions in 1924, Topkapı Palace was opened to service as a Museum on October 9, 1924. The sections opened to visit at that time were Kubbealtı, Arz Odası, Mecidiye Köşkü (Pavilion Mecidiye), Hekimbaşı Odası (Room of Chief Doctor), Mustafa Paşa Köşkü (Pavilion Mustafa Pasha) and Bağdad Köşkü (Pavilion Baghdad).


Topkapı Palace is listed among those monuments belonging to the historic areas of Istanbul, added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. The palace is full of examples of Ottoman architecture and also contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, as well as a display of Ottoman treasure and jewelry.


Byzantine remains in the Second Courtyard.The palace complex is located on the Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu), a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, with the Bosphorus in plain sight from many points of the palace. The site is hilly and one of the highest points close to the sea. During Greek and Byzantine times, the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Byzantion stood here.

There is an underground Byzantine cistern, located in the Second Courtyard, which was used throughout Ottoman times, as well as remains of a small church, the so-called Palace Basilica on the acropolis have also been excavated in modern times. The nearby Church of Hagia Eirene, though located in the First Courtyard, is not considered a part of the old Byzantine acropolis.


Initial construction started in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. The palace is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At the height of its existence as a royal residence, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, formerly covering a larger area with a long shoreline. The complex has been expanded over the centuries, with many renovations such as after the 1509 earthquake and 1665 fire.

After the Ottoman conquest and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II found the imperial Byzantine Great Palace of Constantinople largely in ruins. The Ottoman court initially set itself up in the Old Palace (Eski Saray), today the site of Istanbul University. The Sultan then searched for a better location and chose the old Byzantine acropolis, ordering the construction of a new palace in 1459. It was originally called the New Palace (Yeni Saray) to distinguish it from the previous residence. It received the name "Topkapı" in the 19th century, after a (now lost) Topkapı Gate and shore pavilion.


Sultan Mehmed II established the basic layout of the palace. The highest point of the promontory he used for his private quarters and innermost buildings. From the innermost core various building and pavilions surrounded it and grew down the promontory towards the shore of the Bosphorus. The whole complex was surrounded by high walls, some of which dated backto the Byzantine acropolis. This basic layout governed the pattern of future renovations and extensions. The fifth courtyard was in reality the most outer rim of the palace grounds bordering the sea.

Access to these courtyards was restricted by high walls and controlled through gates. Apart from the four to five main courtyards, various other mid-sized to small courtyards exist throughout the complex. The total size of the complex varies from around 592,600 square meters to 700,000 square meters, depending on which parts are measured. Accounts differ as to when construction of the inner core of the palace started and was finished. Kritovolous gives the dates 1459-1465, other sources suggest a finishing date in the late 1460s.

Contrary to other royal residences which had strict master plans, such as Schönbrunn Palace or the Palace of Versailles, Topkapı Palace developed over the course of centuries, with various sultans adding and changing various structures and elements. The resulting asymmetry is the result of this erratic growth and change over time, although the main layout by Mehmed II as still preserved.

Most of the changes occurred during the reign of Sultan Suleyman from 1520-1560. With the rapid expansion of the Ottoman Empire, Suleyman wanted the growing power and glory to be reflected in his residence. New buildings were constructed or enlargened, The chief architect responsible in that period was the Persian Alaüddin, also known as Acem Ali. He was also responsible for the expansion of the Harem.

In 1574 a great fire destroyed the kitchens. Sinan was entrusted by Sultan Selim II to rebuilt the destroyed parts expanded them, as well as the Harem, baths, the Privy Chamber and various shoreline pavilions. By the end of the 16th century the palace acquired its present appearance. The palace is an extensive complex with an assortment of various low buildings constructed around courtyards, interconnected with galleries and passages, rather than a single monolithic structure.

Almost none of the buildings are higher than two storeys. Interspersed are trees, gardens and water fountains, to give a refreshing feeling to the inhabitants and provide places where they could repose. The buildings enclosed the courtyards, and life revolved around them. Doors and windows faced towards the courtyard, in order to create an open atmosphere for the inhabitants as well as provide for cool air during hot summers.

The palace compound when seen from a birds-eye view has the shape of a rough rectangle, divided into four main courtyards and the harem. The main axis is from south to north, the outermost (first) courtyard starting at the south with each successive courtyard leading up north. The first courtyard was the one that was most accessible, while the innermost (fourth) courtyard and the harem were the most inaccessible, being the sole private domain of the sultan.


Topkapı Palace was the main residence of the sultan and his court. It was initially the seat of government as well as the imperial residence. Even though access was strictly regulated, inhabitants of the palace rarely had to venture out since the palace functioned almost as an autonomous entity, a city within a city. Audience and consultation chambers and areas served for the political workings of the empire.

For the residents and visitors, the palace had its own water supply through underground cisterns and the great kitchens provided for nourishment on a daily basis. Dormitories, gardens, libraries, schools, even mosques were at the service of the court. A strict court ceremonial codified daily life, in order to ensure imperial seclusion from the rest of world. The principle of imperial seclusion is a tradition that was probably continued from the Byzantine court.

It was codified by Sultan Mehmed II in 1477 and 1481 in the Kanunname Code, which regulated the rank order of court officials, the administrative hierarchy, and protocol matters. This principle of increased seclusion over time was reflected in the construction style and arrangements of various halls and buildings. The architects had to ensure that even within the palace, the sultan and his family could enjoy a maximum of privacy and discretion, making use of grilled windows and building secret passageways.


GPS : 41°00'38.0"N 28°58'43.4"E / 41.010545, 28.978723

Surrounding the whole complex of the First to the Fourth Courtyard are the outer palace garden, some parts towards the sea also known as the Fifth Place. Located next to the First Courtyard towards the city lies Gülhane Park, the old imperial rose garden, today a public park.

Mehmed II also had three pavilions, or kiosks, constructed, of which only the Tiled Kiosk (Çinili Köşkü) has survived. The Tiled Pavilion dates to around 1473 and houses the Islamic ceramics collection of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.

Many of the trees in the Topkapı Palace are remarkable since most of them fell victim to a fungus that completely hollowed the trunk out over the centuries, even though the trees still survive until today and are standing. In other cases, two trees of a different kind have grown and fused together, such as a fig tree that grew in the hollow of a tree and effectively fused together. This phenomenon can be seen in the Second Courtyard.


GPS : 41°01'00.0"N 28°58'54.0"E / 41.016667, 28.981667

The southern and western sides border the large former imperial flower park, today Gülhane Park. Surrounding the palace compound on the southern and eastern side is the Sea of Marmara. Various related buildings such as small summer palaces (kasrı), pavilions, kiosks (köşkü) and other structures for royal pleasures and functions formerly existed at the shore in area also known as the Fifth Place.

But have since disappeared over the course of time due to neglect and the construction of the shoreline railroad in the 19th century. However, the last remaining seashore structure of the outer limits that still exists today is the Basketmakers' Kiosk, constructed in 1592 by Sultan Murad III. Thus the total area size of Topkapı Palace was in fact much larger than what it appears today.


GPS : 41°00'39.5"N 28°58'41.8"E / 41.010972, 28.978278

In the year 1820; was built by Sultan Mahmut II. (1808-1839). Alay Köşkü, is made built for the Sultan and high officers of the state to be able to watch the parades. On the window girdles by the main road, Hattat Mustafa İzzet Efendi’s verse inscription applied on black stone with gold-printed metallic letters can be observed. And at the opposite, there is Bab-ı Ali Gate (Gate of State) where the grand vizier executes government works. But at the opposite to the Bab-ı Ali Kapısı; Alay Köşkü, reflects the hierarchy in architecture also with its two floors against one floor of the Bab-ı Ali Gate.


WEB SITE : Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate

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Phone : +90 212 512 0480
Fax : +90 212 526 9840

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