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Topkapi Palace

Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
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Overall Experience: 6 / 10
Date Visited: Monday, March 3, 2008

Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi in Turkish) was one of the homes of the Sultans during the Ottoman empire. It is currently a museum. It contains a large collection of artifacts such as dishes, jewels and jewelry, cookware, armor, and other objects. The architecture of the palace is also very interesting. Each building is a separate place to visit, and many of them now have exhibits inside.

The palace itself is a collection of buildings (unlike the Dolmabahce Palace, which is mostly located in one very large building). Visitors also have the option to purchase entrance to the Harem, for an extra 10 YTL per person. We chose not to visit.

Cameras and video cameras are permitted in most rooms. Rooms where pictures are forbidden are clearly marked. Visitors are still permitted to keep their cameras with them.

One of the "main attractions" was the religious relics building. When we first entered, we heard a recording of Arabic prayers being chanted. When we got to the last room in the building, we discovered that the prayers were, actually, being performed live! That was surprising. The orator didn't stop for a break once during the time we were there - there is probably someone praying over the speaker system at all times during the day.

The religious relics building contains many artifacts which are potentially of some significance. Supposedly, the building contains artifacts like the tooth of the prophet Mohammad, the staff of Moses, the arm of John the Baptist, and old pieces of the Kaaba. The building itself contains lots of information about the Islam religion and its beliefs.

I thought the highlight exhibit was the treasury rooms. There were three rooms full of beautiful and expensive treasures. The treasures included lots of jewelery, some decorated swords, crowns, and thrones. Unfortunately, picture taking was not allowed at this exhibit.

The Audio Guide

We chose to pay the extra 5 YTL per person for the audio guide. In the end, we were disappointed with it. Most of the informational signs (and there were lots of them) were written in both Turkish and English. The audio guide (which was also in English) had mostly the same information that was presented on the informational displays. It would probably have been more useful in other languages.


Entrance fees are 10 YTL per person. You can pay an additional 10 euro for a 1-hour guided tour, or 5 YTL per person for an audio guide (many languages are available). The Harem section costs an additional 10 YTL per person.

The palace is open from 9:00am - 5:00pm, and closed on Tuesday.

Estimated Visiting Time

We spent approximately three hours at the palace, and were able to see everything at a leisurely pace. If you move quickly, you can probably see everything in two hours. If you plan to visit the Harem section, leave additional time.

review contents

The Audio Guide
Estimated Visiting Time

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