Topkapi Palace Museum is located at Seraglio Point, and it is one of the most exciting and popular places to visit in Istanbul. If you are interested in the history of one of the most enigmatic empires, here you can see the way sultans of the Ottoman Empire lived and ruled for 400 years.
Six years after settling in Constantinople, in 1459, Mehmed the Conqueror ordered the construction of an extensive palace from where he can both rule and live. He designed the palace’s layout himself and asked for only the best craftsmen to work on almost every aspect of the construction. It’s believed that the construction was finished in the 1460s.
One of the essential principles in building this palace was the code of silence as you go to the inner sections of the court. This silence meant respect and hierarchy, and it also provided much-needed privacy to the sultan. This need for the discretion of the high ranking court members affected the construction and later on renovations, filling the palace with secret passages.
Even when there was damage to the original buildings throughout history or when there was a need for a renovation, sultans kept the original layout of Mehmed the Conqueror and made the changes according to his original plans.
A fire caused significant damage to the kitchens of the palace in 1574, and the sultan at that time, Selim II, hired the famous architect Mimar Sinan to renovate it. Mimar Sinan not only fixed what was broken but also expanded many sections of the palace.
In time, sultans were less eager to live in Topkapi Palace, and they preferred moving to newer palaces by the Bosphorus. Even then, Topkapi Palace was prestigious since many vital people working for the sultans kept living there.
Topkapi Palace was shown as if it was a museum for the first time in the rule of Abdulmejid I, who wanted to show the palace to the British Ambassador. In time, it became a custom to show the inside of Topkapi Palace to important visitors, even making glass casings for old and rare jewelry.
Topkapi palace was open to visitors as a museum for the first time in 1924, after the Republic of Turkey was founded. Ever since, it has been one of the museums that attract the most visitors each year, with millions exploring this fantastic legacy.