The Ottoman Ruler’s Residence: Topkapı Palace

Topkapı Palace sits at the entrance to the Golden Horn, an inlet of water that splits the European side of Istanbul.  It is located quite close to the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.  It was the Ottoman ruler’s humble abode for part of the time they ruled the empire (the rulers eventually moved to a different type of palace of a more European style further up the Bosphorus).  This palace is where the Empire was managed from – an empire that at peak included, more or less, Southeast Europe, Western Asia, part of North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.  A Muslim empire that was quite tolerant of other religions.  And an empire feared in Christian Europe.  Eventually the empire disintegrated over a period of a few decades finally ending its life after World War I.

The palace is strategically situated high on a promontory on the tip of Istanbul (Seraglio Point) west of the Golden Horn which affords great views of the Karakoy/Galata area, the Bosphorus and the Asian side of the city.  It consists of many buildings and gardens so it was not a massive building as were more European-style palaces like Versailles or El Escorial.  The most important buildings sit up high with the rest of the complex working its way down to the shores of the Bosphorus where the complex is walled with some parts of the walls going all the way back to what was then the acropolis of Byzantium.

An interesting part of the palace is its imperial harem where the sultan kept his many wives, concubines but also where the women of the royal family lived – and schemed.  It must have been an interesting place with all the intrigues, jealousies and power fights.  The mother of the sultan ruled the roost so it surely must have been a fun place!  You may picture the harem as a big room with women just laying around (I did, anyway) but it really is a series of buildings consisting of over 400 rooms!  Of course, space was allocated according to rank.  Oh, and this also included the eunuchs (slaves especially trained –and castrated- to serve in the harem) who guarded and took care of the harem.

Today, the palace is a museum, letting the visitor get a glimpse of some of the spaces, enjoy the vistas, and see some of the collection of important artifacts in the gallery.  I enjoyed learning more about the sultans and Ottoman Empire, especially in such an incredible location in such an incredible and unique city.

Below is a gallery of photos of the buildings, rooms, grounds, and vistas of the Topkapi Palace, a must-see in Istanbul!

Click on the pictures to enlarge and view.


  1. Just another reason to put Turkey at the top of my list

  2. I have often wondered about the harem as well. Don’t think I would have lasted two minutes in there with my jealous streak!
    Natalie recently posted..Bosphorus Cruising: Palaces, Yali Summer Houses, Castles, and Mosques of IstanbulMy Profile

  3. E l palacio es bello y su contenido precioso pero mas me gustaron las joyas q exhiben!

  4. Your pics are beautiful, it must be stunning in person! i think i’d have been able to hold my own in that harem!
    lola dimarco recently posted..Four Great Places to Visit in LondonMy Profile

  5. This reminds me that I really should write more about my time in Istanbul….

    That being said, I enjoyed Topkapi Palace, especially the harem. All the colors and tiles and mosaics… an intricately beautiful place with a history just as colorful!
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted..Could we be the very first #GwOGuestTester Family?My Profile

  6. Nice article. As a matter of interest, let me share that according to what i have understood till now, is that the famous tv block buster THE MAGNIFICENT CENTURY has been shot in the topkapi palace itself. So one may imagine life in the palace while watching this show. Great !

  7. Nice

  8. I need to spend more time in Istanbul and surrounding areas. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I really want to visit Turkey and will keep this place in mind – I love this kind of architecture!
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..No Ordinary Park Bench: Virgin Atlantic’s street campaign in NYCMy Profile

  10. If I could design my home after this it would be perfect! 🙂 Thanks for the tip. I have never heard of this place and would love to see it for myself one day!
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Music Monday: Comes and Goes.My Profile

  11. … women of the royal family lived – and schemed… that made me smile and truly lol… nice prose.

    stay accurate, Craig
    craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous) recently posted..Where to Stay in Singapore? The Orchard Hotel SingaporeMy Profile

    • Do you think the sultan was really the ruler with that harem right there?! You know he didn’t staycourageous when he approached it!

  12. remember visiting here and how daughter napping under a tree in the gardens fun memories
    rebecca recently posted..Bonfire ToffeeMy Profile

  13. Another great tip for my twenty hours in Turkey.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..That time at the Chicago Marathon photo essayMy Profile

  14. whooaaa, gorgeous place & gorgeous photos!! sigh, one day we’ll make it to istanbul.
    the lazy travelers recently posted..foodie break: felice 83My Profile

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: