Read about some
of the Ottoman sultans for
nearly 400 years, Topkapı
of the Cannon Gate"—map)
was the seraglio, the
heart of the vast Ottoman
Empire, ruled by the monarch
who lived in Topkapı's hundreds
of rooms with hundreds of concubines,
children, and white and black servants.
The domes of Topkapı's
is No. 2 on everyone's
list of Istanbul
sights (Hagia Sophia is No. 1), get there when it
opens (09:00 am, till 17:00
[5 pm]; closed Tuesday; TL30
admission fee for adults) and go
straight to the Harem (additional
admission fee). Maybe you'll be able to beat some of the 3.55 million other visitors...)
Seriously consider buying an Istanbul Museum Pass for your visit to Topkapı. If you plan to visit Hagia Sophia and several of the other included museums (such as the Mosaic Museum or Chora Church), it'll save you time and money. More...
accessible only by guided
tour, you can now wander
through the Harem on your own,
as you choose; but only a certain
number of visitors are allowed
at one time, so go there first to avoid
wandering through the Harem you can
stroll the palace's spacious
grounds and four
courtyards at your leisure. The Hagia Irene church in the First Courtyard is usually open to visits for an additional ticket price of TL20 (free if you have the Istanbul Museum Pass).
miss the Treasury in the 3rd
courtyard, with its incredible gems,
gold, and works of art.
Topkapı Palace as
seen from the Bosphorus.
a bittersweet romantic scene that
actually happened at Topkapı, see
Sun, Strong Tea excerpt entitled "Tears
Just down the hill to the west of
the palace are the Istanbul
Archeological Museums, and beyond them is shady Gülhane
Park, a fine place for a stroll or
a soothing glass of tea.
you're done at Topkapı, head for Ayasofya (Hagia
Sophia), right next door,
and the Blue
Mosque, next door to Ayasofya
on the Byzantine Hippodrome.
—by Tom Brosnahan