Topkapi Palace, Istanbul | Best Historical Place | Travel Guide
Topkapi Palace is a famous historical place located in Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul. It is also quoted as Topkapi Saray in Turkish. Topkapi Palace was the official residential place of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853 CE. At the peak of its existence, it was a royal residence to as many as 4,000 people. Topkapi Palace was a gathering place for the royal events, entertainments, and state occasions and now it’s a major tourist attraction. After the demise of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 CE, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the New Turkey and transformed the Topkapi Palace to Topkapi Palace Museum, a museum of the imperial era.
Topkapi Palace was not only a residential place for the Ottoman Sultans and their families but also an educational and administrative center of the Ottoman Empire. Topkapi Palace was initially constructed by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror (Sultan Muhammad Fateh, 7th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire) who marked history with the conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453 CE. Later, a lot of repairs and expansions were made by the successive sultans according to the requirement and it served as the Ottoman Court and home to Ottoman Sultans until the last quarter of the 19th century.
Why the Topkapi Palace was no more an official administrative center for the Ottomans by 1853 CE? Because it was no more adequate and favorable for the empire’s ceremonies and protocols. So, the Ottoman Sultans moved to Dolmabahçe Palace near Bosphorus, in the reign of Sultan Abdulmejid I. In spite of this shifting, Topkapi Palace was yet a host to many empire’s ceremonies as Holy Relics of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), the imperial archives, and the royal treasure was preserved there. After the demolished of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 CE, Topkapi palace was converted into a museum by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on 3rd April 1924 CE.
As we discussed earlier, after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 CE, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror built a palace in Beyazit District where Istanbul University stands today, and it is known as Old Palace, Eksi Palace or Eksi Saray. After that Sultan built Tiled Kiosk (Çinili Köşk) and named it a New Palace (Sarây-ı Cedîd). Its current name Topkapi Palace falls in the reign of Sultan Mahmud I (1730-54 CE), who built a wooden palace near the city’s Byzantine walls. This newly built palace on the seaside was named as Cannon Gate Palace by the Sea (Topkapusu Sâhil Sarâyı).
Design and Sections
The present design of the Topkapi Palace is consisted of several courtyards and gardens surrounding the office’s buildings for state business, residence and pavilions for the sovereign, and the residence for the court employees who have been accommodated within Palace. Topkapi Palace is being surrounded by the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, and the Sea of Marmara. 1400 meters long Royal Walls (Sûr-ı Sultânî) are covering the land side of the Palace. Byzantine Walls are covering the seas side of the Topkapi Palace. The total area of the Topkapi Palace is 700,000 sqm approximately and the major part of this area is the Royal Gardens (Hasbahçe). There are three main gates of the Topkapi Palace complex named as the Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde), the Imperial Gate (Bâb-ı Hümâyûn), and the Gate of Salutation (Bâbüsselâm). And there are four courtyards which are quoted as the Royal Gardens or Rose Garden (Gülbahçe), the Harem, and various other gardens.
Topkapi Palace court is divided into two major parts as the Outer Palace (Bîrûn) and the Inner Palace (Enderûn). Harem was a part of the Inner Palace. Harem in the Topkapi Palace consisted of the apartments where the Ottoman Sultans lived with their families. Initially, Harem was established above the back gardens on the second courtyard. Harem was safeguarded with high walls from the public courtyards and sections of the palace. After the construction of the New Palace, the old one Eksi Palace started to be used solely as Harem. But there also some sources available which state that a new palace was built on the Golden Road with the name “The Girls’ Palace (Sarây-ı Duhterân)”. The present Topkapi Palace Harem was organized by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent when he moved there along with his family and Haseki Sultan (Hürrem Sultan also known as Roxelana in the West). Harem consists of approximately 300 rooms, two mosques, dormitories, a hospital, nine bathhouses, and a laundry.
Visit Information and Guide
Topkapi Palace Museum is open for the visitors from Wednesday to Monday except Tuesday. During winters, its timing is 9:00 am to 4:45 pm with the entrance closed exactly at 4:00 pm. During summers, its timing is 9:00 am to 6:45 pm with the entrance closed exactly at 6:00 pm. , You have to be aware of the public holidays and religious festivals.
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