Topkapi Palace is located in Sultanahmet, the most touristic district of Istanbul. Built in the 1400s, the palace is one of the most important works of classical Ottoman architecture.
Topkapi Palace is visited by an average of 3 million people a year. Consisting of four large courtyards, the palace promises a trip in touch with nature. There are also structures such as “Hagia Irene Church” and “Istanbul Archaeological Museum” in the palace.
In this article, you can find information about Topkapi Palace entrance fee and opening hours. As an experienced tourist guide, I prepared a practical guide that includes all parts of the palace. You can also buy skip-the-line tickets for Topkapi Palace from the links at the end of the article.
Short History of Topkapi Palace
The history of Topkapi Palace goes back to the 15th century. It was commissioned by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1460 and Ottoman sultans and royal family lived there until 1856.
Topkapi Palace, which is the most beautiful representative of classical Ottoman architecture, lost its importance in 19th century. Sultans moved to Dolmabahce Palace with its Neo-Classical and Baroque architecture on the shores of the Bosphorus. However, Topkapi Palace, the ancestral residence, was not completely abandoned.
When the Ottoman Empire was stretched to three continents and reached its widest borders, strong monarchs like Suleiman the Magnificent was accommodating in this humble palace. The Palace consists of four large courtyards and a structure immersed with nature. A visit to the palace takes 3 hours on average.
Things to See in Topkapi Palace Museum
Things to see in Topkapi Palace include collections of watches, weapons, and jewelry, and rooms decorated with tiles and gilding. During the palace tour, you can take excellent photos with the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn in the background.
Entrance to the first courtyard of Topkapi Palace is free. It is necessary to buy a ticket at the entrance to the second courtyard, which is the core of the palace. You can find useful tips for your palace visit in this step-by-step guide to Topkapi Palace.
1. First Courtyard of the Palace
The first courtyard of Topkapi Palace includes Hagia Irene Museum, Topkapi Palace Museum Shop and Ticket Offices. You can find a detailed explanation of these sections in the following lines.
Hagia Irene Museum is the most important historical monument you will encounter in the first courtyard. Hagia Irene Church was built by Justinian, the most famous ruler of Byzantium. You can see Hagia Irene in the picture above and Hagia Sophia in the background. The history of the two buildings is very similar.
Topkapi Palace Museum Shop is a gift shop where you can find many things about the history of Istanbul. If you come here after visiting the palace, you can buy souvenirs about the things that affected you during the palace visit.
Ticket Offices are quite crowded during the summer months. Istanbul’s tourism season starts in April and continues until November. Thus, long queues are formed in front of the ticket offices in the spring and summer months.
In order to avoid waiting in line to buy tickets, you have two options: First, you can buy the Istanbul Museum Pass. Second, you can buy Topkapi Palace skip-the-line tickets, which gives you a guided tour. You can use this link to buy tickets online by GetYourGuide.
In addition, there is a pathway that provides direct access to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum from the first courtyard. If you want to go directly to the archaeological museum without visiting the palace, you can reach the museum from the road next to Hagia Irene Church.
2. Second Courtyard of the Palace
The second courtyard of Topkapi Palace includes Imperial Council, Clock Collection, Weapon Collection and Palace Kitchens. Now let’s give brief information about these sections.
Imperial Council (Divan) is the most impressive building you will see in the second courtyard. Decisions regarding the administration of the Ottoman Empire, which once ruled over three continents, were made here.
When you carefully examine the two neighboring rooms of the Imperial Council, you will see two different architectural styles. Early Classical Ottoman Architecture includes oriental motifs, while late architecture includes European influence.
The first room is the meeting room decorated with Iznik tiles and intricate motifs. The second room is the waiting room, which contains Baroque and Rococo influences and reflects the late Ottoman architecture.
Clock Collection includes pieces presented to the Ottoman Sultans from European countries. These unique works designed by royal clockmakers are really impressive. You can see clocks made in England, France, Russia and Austria.
Weapon Collection is located in a room built with red bricks. Inside you can find examples of all the swords, arrows, shields and rifles used during the 600 years of the Ottoman rule.
Palace Kitchens have a distinctive architecture that can be seen from all sides of the courtyard. Kitchens with giant chimneys feature one of the world’s largest Chinese Porcelain collections.
You can have an idea about the history of Turkish cuisine in the kitchen section. The reason why Turkish cuisine is so rich is that it melts the Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European cultures in the same pot.
It should also be noted that the entrance to the Harem Rooms is only from the second courtyard. Harem’s entrance gate is on the side of the Imperial Council. If you enter the Harem from here, you will reach the third courtyard at the end of the tour.
3. Third Courtyard of the Palace
The third courtyard of Topkapi Palace includes Audience Hall, Sultan Clothes Collection, Imperial Treasury, Sacred Relics and Portraits of Sultans.
Audience Hall is the big room at the entrance of the third courtyard. This room was the place where the sultan received his guests. In addition, when the meetings at the Imperial Council were over, the viziers (ministers) would come here and submit the decisions taken to the Sultan’s approval.
Sultan Clothes Collection is the section where clothes made of silk fabrics are exhibited. You can see the caftans used by the Ottoman sultans between 1460 and 1856, when they lived in Topkapi Palace.
Imperial Treasury is by far the most interesting part of Topkapi Palace. The treasure consists of four rooms and houses a very large collection. The most popular pieces are Spoonmaker’s Diamond and Topkapi Dagger.
Various thrones, swords, ornaments, earrings and rings can be seen in the treasure. Most of these items are covered with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. You can see one of the most spectacular views of the Bosphorus from the balcony of one of the treasury mansions.
Sacred Relics is one of the most visited places of Topkapi Palace. Visitors from other Muslim countries of the world are especially interested in this collection. Because there are personal belongings of the Prophet Mohammed inside.
In the Portraits of Sultans section, you can see the images of 36 sultans who ruled throughout the Ottoman history. Some of the sultans can be seen in their private portraits, while others are seen in family portraits in the form of medallions.
In the middle of the Third Courtyard is the library built by Ahmed III. Reflecting the classical Ottoman architecture, this building is adorned with beautiful tiles and ornaments. The library’s priceless manuscript book collection has been preserved elsewhere.
4. Fourth Courtyard of the Palace
The fourth courtyard of Topkapi Palace includes Mecidiye Pavilion, Wooden Sofa Pavilion, Baghdat and Revan Pavilions.
Mecidiye Pavilion is the most striking structure of the fourth courtyard with its baroque structure. You can take souvenir photos with the Bosphorus in the background on the viewing balcony in front of this mansion.
Wooden Sofa Pavilion is located in the middle of the fourth courtyard and overlooks the area where sports activities used to be held. The Sultan used to watch the competitions of the Enderun school students from here. The imperial school called Enderun was located in the palace and educated students who would govern the state in the future.
Baghdat and Revan pavilions were two summer buildings built during the reign of Murad IV. These buildings on the west side of the fourth courtyard have a view of the Golden Horn.
Among the two pavilions, especially the Baghdat Pavilion stands out with its magnificent interior decoration. The most distinctive elements of Ottoman classical architecture, tiles, mother-of-pearl inlays, ornaments and Turkish carpets are all represented here.
In the fourth courtyard, Konyali Restaurant is located on the ground floor of Mecidiye Pavilion. In this restaurant, which has a magnificent view, you can experience the best dishes of the Ottoman palace cuisine.
Topkapi Palace Entrance Fee 2021
Topkapi Palace entrance fee is 200 Turkish Liras as of 2021. The museum ticket includes the Hagia Irene Museum and the audio guide. If you want to visit the Harem section, you have to pay an extra fee of 100 TL. Admission is free for children under 8 years. Istanbul Museum Pass is valid in all parts of the palace.
The cheapest ticket that can be purchased to visit Topkapi Palace is 200 TL, but the combined ticket that includes all parts of the palace (Palace, Harem Rooms and Hagia Irene) is 285 TL. Considering this new pricing, it seems logical to buy the Museum Pass Istanbul worth 360 TL, which is valid in many museums of Istanbul for 5 days.
Skip The Line Topkapi Palace Tickets
The 7-month period from April to November is Istanbul’s high tourism season. During this time, there are long ticket lines in front of museums. For this reason, I recommend that you buy a fast track ticket for Topkapi Palace.
Those who have skip the line Topkapi Palace tickets meet with their guides at the gate and enter with the group. Thus, you can listen to the history of the 500-year-old palace from a professional. You can use this link to get a guided entrance ticket to the palace.
Topkapi Palace Opening Hours 2021
Topkapi Palace opening hours are between 09:00 in the morning and 18:00 in the evening. The museum closes earlier in the winter months. Please also note that the museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Depending on Covid-19 measures, there may be changes in the visiting hours of the museums in Istanbul. Before going to the museum, I recommend you to visit the official website of the palace and review the latest situation.
How to Get to The Palace?
Topkapi Palace is located in Sultanahmet, one of the most touristic districts of Istanbul. For this reason, it is very easy to reach the palace.
In order to go to Topkapi Palace from Taksim Square, you must first go to Kabatas with Funicular F1. If you take the tram from Kabatas Tram Station, you can reach Sultanahmet in 15 minutes. It will take only 10 minutes to walk from Sultanahmet Tram Station to Topkapi Palace.
In the vicinity of Topkapi Palace, there are the most visited museums and historical places of Istanbul such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Istanbul Archeology Museum and Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.
Written by Serhat Engul