Topkapi Palace

Discover the history of the Ottoman Empire with a visit to Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Go through the Imperial Gate and buy your ticket in the First Court, where you’ll also find the Archeological Museum, before exploring the rest of the palace grounds.

As you walk through Topkapi Palace, you’ll see how the site has evolved over the centuries with different sultans adding buildings according to their wants and needs. Eventually, it became the largest palace in the world.

Go through the Middle Gate and into the Second Court, where you’ll be surrounded by beautiful gardens. On the right you’ll see the Palace Kitchens, and to your left there’s the Imperial Council Chamber where, according to legend, the Sultan would occasionally eavesdrop through the grille.

At the Outer Treasury, see the collection of armour before visiting the Harem, where the sultan’s concubines once lived, through the entrance under the Tower of Justice. Look out for the Privy Chamber of Murat III, a luxurious room that’s retained its original decoration since it was built in the late 16th century. The marble fountain’s especially interesting, which was apparently installed to prevent eavesdropping.

After seeing the Twin Kiosk and the Apartments of the Crown Prince, go to the Courtyard of the Favourites and on to the kafes, which are rooms used to imprison the Sultan’s brothers or sons. Take the Golden Road through the Gate of Felicity and into the Third Court, where you can visit the Treasury to see artefacts decorated with precious stones.

Then, go onto the Fourth Court, the Sultan’s private area, where you can see the Tulip Garden and Marble Terrace. Look out for the 17th century kiosks and the small mosque before relaxing with a drink at the onsite cafe.