I’m sure you’ve seen those pictures everywhere with amazingly bright and colorful tiles and beautiful architecture? Well, they were taken here at Topkapi Palace. It truly is an incredible place and one of Istanbul’s many gems. In case you aren’t already convinced here are 10 reasons you should visit this amazing place!
1. Visit the Oldest and Biggest Palace in the World
Topkapi Palace is claimed to be the largest and oldest surviving palace in the world! If that is not reason enough to visit, I don’t know what is! The Palace was built is 1465 and has housed countless Sultans, servants, concubines, and royal family members since! You can feel the history as you walk around!
2. Amazing Instagram photos
Who isn’t looking for amazing places to take photos? Well Topkapi Palace certainly offers PLENTY! Gold rimmed walls and bright blue tile work. Everywhere you look is an amazing photo opportunity. The Harem is the most Instagrammable spot of all with beautiful and intricate walls full of colors!
3. Understand Turkey better culturally
This Palace was built in 1465! That means that hundreds of years of Turkish history are hidden in it’s walls. There was so much to learn about the history and culture of Turkey just by wandering around. The Museum houses artifacts from so many different eras and long historical accounts of the different Sultans who resided there. Turkish artwork, circumcision rooms, prayer rooms, libraries, and so much more. It’s a wonderful chance to get a glimpse into Turkey’s culture.
4. Enjoy it’s amazing architecture and artwork
Between beautiful entrances arched with gold to tall domed ceilings beautifully colored, everywhere you look there is another area to enjoy. The windows, the bedrooms, guestrooms, and living quarters. Architecturally it is amazing.
5. It’s a Museum and Palace All in One
No need to decide between visiting a museum or a Palace! Here you can do both at the same time. If you’re super interested in the history and fun facts consider hiring a guide for the day who can walk you through the place so you don’t miss any tidbits!
6. History Lover’s Paradise
This palace has literally hosted generations of Ottoman sultans and their many wives and concubines throughout the centuries. It’s now a wonderful (and very thorough) museum containing well preserved libraries, prayer rooms, servant quarters, living areas, kitchenware, clothing, artwork, and so much more. Lover of history? Here is just the place for you!
7. It’s big enough to spend a lot of time, but also can be visited briefly
When we went to visit we only had a fairly short time to see everything the Palace had to offer, but there was so much more to see! The great part about this palace is you can chose to explore (or not explore) however much you want. You could easily spend 1 hour or 5 hours here, just depends on your pace.
8. You Can See an Intricate and Stunning Harem
Did you know….That the word Harem in Arabic means forbidden. So although we generally associate a harem as a place where a king kept his many women, it really just meant “off limits” to everyone else. Here at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul the Harem housed the Sultan and his sons, along with all the women of the household (sometimes up to 1000 😲)
This room (one of 300) is the Imperial Hall. The largest dome in the complex, this is where they would host official receptions, parties, and the Sultan would sit on his golden throne. Quite an impressive place.
9. The Gardens Nearby
After (or before) your visits to the palace, be sure to stop by the lovely park built just outside! It has ponds and bridges and all sorts of beautiful trees and flowers. It’s an amazing place for a picnic or just a relaxed stroll.
10. It’s BEAUTIFUL
Perhaps the most important reason of all to visit the Topkapi Palace is simply because it’s BEAUTIFUL. We all love to see and explore beautiful places and so here is a stunner! Enjoy!
When to Visit
The Topkapi Palace can be visited all year round, but it is only open six days a week. The Palace is closed on Tuesdays! Depending on the season, there can be a long wait as this is an extremely popular tourist destination, so if you’re concerned, arrive early! The opening hours are 9:00am-6:00pm except for certain holidays.
How to Get There and Where to Stay
The Topkapi Palace is very centrally located. If you’re planning on visiting most of Istanbul’s most famous tourist attractions (Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cisterns), the palace is just a few minutes walk away.
Because most of the attractions are located in the same area, it’s best to stay in the Sultanhamet neighborhood. Speckled with many boutique hotels, a few minutes walk from everything, and a beautiful ocean view, it couldn’t be more perfect. Here is where we stayed, a cute little hotel with incredible friendly staff!
You can really stay anywhere in Istanbul, it just depends on how far you want to drive. Considering also the traffic that plagues Istanbul (along with all big cities) it’s easiest if it’s within walking distance, but still easily accessible from other parts of the city.
- Cost – Topkapi Palace was among the most expensive attractions we visited in Turkey. If you are spending more than a few days in Turkey, it is definitely worth it to buy the Museum Pass. The normal cost is 100 Tl per person. If you want to see the Harem (100% recommended) it will cost a bit more- an additional 70 Tl per person.
- What to Wear – As in most other places in Turkey, dress respectfully. I wore long, flowy pants and a sleeveless top, but people were wearing a whole variety of different outfits. As it is not a religious site, the dress code is more lax, but always remember to be respectful.
- What to Bring – Do not eat at the cafe at the entrance of the Palace. It is one of the most expensive in Turkey and not worth the money. If you think you’ll be a long time consider bringing snacks and water!
- Don’t Miss the Harem!!!– the Palace compound and museum was very beautiful and lovely, but the Harem was FAR more impressive. I would have been quite disappointed in the Topkapi experience if I had skipped visiting the Harem.
Looking for more amazing things to do in Istanbul? Check out all the best places to see: 2 DAYS IN ISTANBUL? HERE ARE THE TOP 7 THINGS TO SEE AND DO!
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
xoxoxo Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters