Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace, seated at the top of the historic peninsula and enjoying a view
that includes the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus Strait, and the Marmara Sea
was recognized as the best defensive site in the city. It was here that the Byzantines
built their palace and the Ottomans continued as they extended and embellished
the older palace with their own huge palace grounds and complex-Topkapi. This was
not only the residence of the Sultan and his harem, but also functioned as the central
headquarters of the Empire. This is not a “palace” as we in the west know the word,
but a huge complex of buildings used for functions that fused the royal family with
the workings of this far-flung empire. You will need most of a day to begin to get an idea of what this palace entails. You will of
course not miss the crown jewels (remember the Hitchcock film, Topkapi, the kitchens,
with a collection of Chinese porcelain second only to those within China, the Sultan’s reception area, and all of the other buildings
that make up the male/state buildings. Pay the extra money and buy a ticket to the
Harem as well to get an idea how the “other half” lived.


Topkapi Palace which functioned as the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries is situated on the acropolis, the site of the first settlement in Istanbul; it commands an impressive view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. The construction of the palace began in 1466 and was completed in 1478, a few years before the death of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (The conqueror of Istanbul). Unlike the European palaces, Topkapi Palace does not consist of one single building, but consists of various pavilions and official buildings.
From the time of its construction, the palace developed constantly with alterations and additions made by each sultan. The Harem Section of the palace was built during the reign of Sultan Murat III between 1574- 1595. In time, educational institutions, health institutions and pavilions in the inner courtyards and summer pavilions at the Sarayburnu seafront were built, kitchens and barns were extended and new mosques and libraries were added.


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