Topkapi Palace, together with Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, is the most visited historical monument of Istanbul. You can find brief information about the history of Topkapi Palace in this article. In addition, Topkapi Palace entrance fee and opening hours are also noted. Also, at the end of the article, I shared links where you can buy skip the line tickets for Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.
Short History of Topkapi Palace
The history of Topkapi Palace goes back 550 years. Topkapi Palace is the best Ottoman Palace reflecting the origins of Turks in Central Asia. It was commissioned by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1460 and Ottoman sultans and royal family lived there until 1856.
A reflection of classical Ottoman architecture, Topkapi Palace fell out of favor in the 19th century because it was not considered suitable for state protocols and ceremonies. During the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid, Dolmabahce Palace, built on western style, started to be used so Topkapi Palace became “Old Palace” but it 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 gardens and a structure immersed with nature. A visit to the palace takes 3 hours on average.
What to See in Topkapi Palace Museum
Topkapi Palace contains four courtyards. Ticket is not required to get into the first courtyard. Ticket offices located at the end of the 1st courtyard. (On the right side). In the following lines, you can find information about What to See in Topkapi Palace divided into four main headings.
1. First Courtyard of the Palace
The first courtyard of Topkapi Palace includes Hagia Irene Church, Topkapi Palace Museum Shop, Ticket Offices.
When you enter the First Courtyard from the monumental gate, the first thing that attracts the eye is the magnificent Bosphorus view. But don’t be hasty.
You will see even more beautiful sceneries within the palace. On the left side, there is a nice restaurant called Emirgan Sutis Restaurant. (Old Police Building). Just next to it majestic Hagia Irene Church, built at the same time as Hagia Sophia by Emperor Justinian.
First Courtyard provides a nice walking path covered with trees and flowers. When you approach the second monumental gate, you will see ticket kiosks on your right. With the spring coming, lines get longer and longer. You may also consider getting an Istanbul Museum Pass to avoid ticket lines.
Note: A passage to Istanbul Archeological Museum is to the west of this courtyard
2. Second Courtyard of the Palace
The second courtyard of Topkapi Palace includes Imperial Council, Clock Collection, Weaponry Section, Palace Kitchens.
After you pass through toll gate and security point, you may look at the miniature models of the palace to understand the real size of the Topkapi Palace. The first model shows the complete palace complex and the second one shows the inner courtyards, the core of the palace.
Behind the models on the east side of the courtyard, you may see huge chimneys. These are the kitchens capable of feeding 3000 people a day. You may see inside video about Ottoman palace kitchen and distinguished Chinese porcelain collection.
The most distinctive place at the second courtyard is Tower of Justice and Imperial Council below it. The most important decisions about the empire stretching to three continents were taken here. In the grand vizier room, there is elegant hand-made clock collection.
The red brick room includes a weapon selection with collection from many centuries. The entrance to Topkapi Palace Harem Rooms is in this courtyard, just at the center of the western wing, next to the council. If you enter Harem here, you may get out at the third courtyard.
3. Third Courtyard of the Palace
The third courtyard of Topkapi Palace includes Audience Hall, Outfit Collection, Treasury, Sacred Relics.
The beautiful gate that can be seen while passing to third courtyard through the second one is the Gate of Felicity. At the entrance of the third courtyard is the Audience Hall where the sultan accepted the guests. Outfit selection and treasury ward can be seen on the right-hand side of the courtyard.
There are four treasury rooms. However due to restorations, it is seldom that four of them are open. Spoonmaker’s Diamond (Kasikci Elmasi) and Topkapi Dagger (Topkapi Hanceri) are the most famous and valued items, which can be seen in Treasury IV room.
Famous “Topkapi Dagger” is in one of treasury rooms. The “Topkapi” movie released in USA in 1964. Peter Ustinov starred. In the story, a band of thieves try to steal the dagger from the palace.
You may see Prophet Moses’ staff, Prophet David’s sword, hand of John the Baptist, mantle of Prophet Muhammad in the Sacred Relics room. (located on the left-hand side of the courtyard)
4. Fourth Courtyard of the Palace
The fourth courtyard of Topkapi Palace, Mecidiye Pavillion; Wooden Sofa Pavillion; Includes Baghdat, Revan and Summer Pavillions.
On the eastern wing of the courtyard, there is an incredible Bosphorus and Istanbul view in front of Mecidiye Pavillion. At the center of the yard, there is a wooden pavillion called Sofa Pavillion and a large garden. Sports competitions were held between palace dwellers in this garden.
In the western wing of the courtyard, there is a magnificent Golden Horn view and Baghdad Pavillion, Revan Pavillion and Summer Pavillion (Circumcision Room) can be seen here as well.
Topkapi Palace Entrance Fee 2021
Topkapi Palace entrance fee is 100 Turkish Liras as of 2021. You need to pay extra ticket price for sections such as Harem and Hagia Eirene inside the palace. Admission is free for children under 8 years. Istanbul Museum Pass is valid in all parts of Topkapi Palace.
The ticket price for the Topkapi Palace Harem is 70 Turkish Liras. If you wish to visit Hagia Eirene Church in the first courtyard of the palace, you will have to pay an extra 60 Turkish Liras.
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 queues in front of museums such as Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.
For this reason, I recommend that you buy a Topkapi Palace fast track ticket. This ticket is a bit more expensive than the standard ticket of the palace. On the other hand, you can avoid waiting for a long time at the ticket office.
Those who have skip the line Topkapi Palace tickets meet with their guides at the door and enter with the group. Thus, you can listen to the history of the 500-year-old Topkapi Palace from a professional. You can use this link to get a guided entrance ticket to Topkapi Palace.
Topkapi Palace Opening Hours 2021
Topkapi Palace opening hours are between 9 am and 6 pm. Please note that the ticket offices are closed 60 minutes prior to closing time. Last entry time is 5 pm. Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays.
Depending on Covid-19 measures, there may be changes in the entrance 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.
Useful Tips For Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey
A visit to the palace might be a bit tiring. Therefore it is recommended to visit the palace in the morning, even at the time of opening at 09:00. In this way, you will not be stuck in the lines at the entrance of the palace and treasury and you will be able to enjoy the calming atmosphere with your fresh energy.
Topkapi Palace Entrance Fee and Hours 2020-2021 by Serhat Engul