The headquarters of an Empire

Topkapi is the largest and oldest surviving palace in the world. Discover its colourful history, which tells of sultans, courtiers, concubines and eunuchs living within the massive walls between the 15th and 19th centuries.

Topkapi Palace is on the route of our Istanbul City Bus Tours. You can hop-on or hop-off here, or simply stay put to listen and learn with our fun, informative commentary.

The history of Topkapi Palace

The Ottoman Sultans reigned for 624 years. Topkapi Palace was the headquarters for 400 of them between 1465-1856. Built on the site of the first settlement in Istanbul, it gave them – and now you – a spectacular view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. In 1924 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk turned it into the resplendent museum you see today.

What to see

The sprawling and fascinating harem in Topkapi Palace will immerse you in the lives of the Sultan’s concubines. You can stroll the palace's spacious grounds and 4 impressive courtyards. And don’t forget the Treasury– a must-see attraction in the 3rd courtyard, displaying priceless gems, gold objects and works of art.

Other interesting facts about Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

  • Topkapi Palace covers an area of around 400,000 square metres (4,300,000 square feet)
  • The Harem alone has 400 rooms where the Sultan kept up to 300 concubines
  • The Palace once housed a university, mosque, council and even the imperial mint
  • Topkapi Palace museum holds the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, one of the largest in the world