April 2, 2021

The Topkapi Palace: Palace of the Ottoman Empire

Istanbul, Turkey
2-3 hours

Welcome to the Topkapi Palace. This amazing museum sits in the east of Istanbul in Turkey. The Topkapi Palace also means Cannon Gate Palace. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Topkapi Palace served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman Empire. Centuries later, the Topkapi Palace converted to a famous museum after the announcement of the Republic of Turkey. It was the first museum of the Turkish Republic, which is super cool.


The Ottomans managed their entire empire for over 600 years from this palace. The construction on the palace started in 1459 and finished in 1478. Mehmet built the first stage of the palace and lived there until he died in 1481. Many other sultans lived there until the 19th century. They then moved to palaces built on the Bosphorus. The palace was reconstructed due to earthquakes and fire. In 1924, the palace converted into a museum.

The Museum

This amazing place is the home to the staff of Moses and the sword of the prophet, Muhammad Ali. There are a ton of cool things to see including historical furniture and art from around the world that they’ve collected. Today, the Treasury building is used to showcase the Ottoman’s weapons and armory. Originally, the Treasury was used to record the expenses of the empire. The museum holds about 300,000 archived documents.


The Topkapi Palace was walled off from the city to provide security and privacy. Mehmed’s original design for the palace consisted of four courtyards. Each one served a different purpose and was separated by a gate that provided security. The third and fourth courtyards were considered private areas. The first courtyard is the largest out of the four. It was also the only public courtyard. Amid the Ottoman Empire, anyone could enter the first courtyard, as long as they were unarmed. So, people would come and give their petitions to the government. The large open space made it the perfect place to hold ceremonies and important events. So, this is the first place visitors see at the entrance of Topkapi Palace.


Altogether, the Topkapi Palace has fifteen different sections. A few examples of the sections include the four courtyards, the Imperial gate, the kitchen, the hall of Divan, the tower of justice, the armory, the Throne room, the pavilion of the Blessed Mantle, and the Harem. They used the Imperial Divan to make important decisions regarding the empire. Interesting fact, the Sultan didn’t attend these meetings in person. Instead, he just listened behind the gold screen in the back of the chamber. If the Sultan didn’t agree with the final decision, he would close the curtain or tap on the screen. This was a sign that the Sultan did not agree with the final decision. So, they needed to re-evaluate. 

The Topkapi Palace is a very popular attraction in Istanbul. It attracts tourists from all around the world. We had such an amazing time exploring and learning about the Ottoman Empire. In conclusion, I would highly recommend checking out his attraction if you’re traveling through Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia was also an amazing experience, full of beautiful sights and history. Thanks for reading along. Stay tuned for another monument adventure to come as we head to the Blue Mosque!

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.

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