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Topkapi Palace

Last updated: 10 February, 2024

Built in 1459 to become the 15th and 16th-century home of the Ottoman Sultans, this enormous complex became the centre of the Ottoman world. Now it’s a perfectly preserved time capsule of life at the top in this most exotic of empires. Some parts of the palace, especially the harem and the sultans’ private quarters, rank among the finest works of Turkish architecture and art.

The museum holds Ottoman clothing, weapons, armour, miniatures, religious relics, and illuminated manuscripts such as the Topkapi manuscript. The collections the sultans piled up over the centuries – from glittering jewels to Prophet Muhammad’s tooth – are beyond belief.

Don’t miss

Once the Sultans’ private garden, Gulhane Park is a great place to relax after seeing the palace. There’s also a pleasant café here with views over the Bosphorus.

Logistics

Price from: £17
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Take tram 1 to Sultanahmet and walk from there.

Buy tickets online first, then print them out and take them with you to avoid the worst of the queues. Allow around 2-4 hours to see the whole complex, and wear comfy shoes – there’s quite a bit of walking involved.

The harem (on a separate ticket) is the most beautiful part of the palace, but the number of visitors is limited to 3,000 per day – another reason to turn up early.

When to do it

The museum is open all year round, Wednesday to Monday. Closed Tuesday. This is the most popular site in the city, so turn up early – if you don’t, you could end up standing in queues all day.

Who to go with: organised tours

7

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Istanbul

This tour is a must in Istanbul with a small group! You will begin the day with the Roman / Byzantine Hippodrome, where the chariot races were organised and take place. Blue Mosque the only mosque with six minarets. Next, you will see the German Fountain - a gift of Kaiser Wilhelm. Hagia Sophia - The Church of Divine Wisdom is the highlight of this day. Following the visits your guide will take you to Nakkas Cistern and give you a presentation of old Istanbul and demonstration of Turkish Handicrafts and Grand Bazaar for thousent of shops. Magnificent Topkapı Museum is the big one, the most important museum of Turkey and Balkan Peninsula. First, second, third and fourth courtyards; the Audience Hall, Divan-the High Court,Treasury, gardens, kiosks. Hagia Irene Church. Your lunch will be served en route in a local and authentic restaurant where you will be able to taste various types of local tastes. To see these things with a great guide. Well, you will never be quite the same again.

Price $125

Min age 1

Rating 4.95 / 5 [315 ratings]

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  • Istanbul

Take a hassle-free tour of Istanbul's most famous attractions with your own private guide to lead the way. You'll enjoy personalized attention on your private tour of magical Istanbul and its signature sights: the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace.

Price $320

Min age 0

Rating 4.41 / 5 [220 ratings]

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  • Istanbul

Discover the history and myths of Ottoman Istanbul with a small-group guided tour Get priority admission tickets and avoid long lines with an expert guide Witness the Harem with your own eyes, the private quarters and home of the Sultans. See the Holy Relics, Imperial Kitchens, Royal Court, and the terraced gardens with tulips. Admire incredible views of the Bosphorus as you look out over the city Get tips from your guide at the end of the tour about what to see next

Price €67

Min age 0

Rating 4.64 / 5 [79 ratings]

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  • Istanbul

Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace are two of the city’s unmissable cultural and historic sites. Focusing on these two places will allow you to concentrate on their beauty and unique histories at leisure, without rushing on to other sites. Save time by skipping the ticket line in Topkapı Palace with priority access, definitely a bonus whether it’s your first time in Istanbul or you’re a repeat visitor.

Price €35

Min age 7

Rating 4.97 / 5 [42 ratings]

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