Topkapi Palace Museum (Topkapi Sarayi Müzesi)#4 in Best Things To Do in Istanbul
Topkapi Palace served as the home of the Ottoman Sultans from 1478 to 1856 and is one of Istanbul's most popular attractions. It officially became a museum in 1924, shortly after the end of the Ottoman era, and features brilliant architecture, manicured courtyards and extensive weaponry, porcelain, cutlery, art and fabric collections.
Previous visitors loved admiring the palace's architecture and perusing its exhibits, saying you'll need several hours to take in everything there is to see. Popular exhibits include the kitchens, the calligraphy area and the armaments room. Many also recommend strolling through the property's "magical" gardens and refueling at the on-site coffee shop, where picturesque views of the Golden Horn await you.
The Topkapi Palace Museum sits atop a promontory in Sultanahmet near the Basilica Cistern, the Hagia Sophia Museum and the Istanbul Archaeological Museums. Multiple bus routes and the Bagcilar-Kabatas tram line make stops by the museum, and a train station can be reached on foot from the property.
Admission to the Topkapi Palace Museum is 40 Turkish lira ($11) for each person older than 12 and includes access to restrooms, cafes, restaurants, bookstores and all parts of the building except the Harem section – the former living space for the sultan and his family, servants, concubines and eunuchs. The Harem area can be toured for an extra 25 Turkish lira ($7) per person. If you have a Museum Pass Istanbul card, your entrance fee and the Harem tour are covered. You can visit the museum Wednesday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; visiting hours are extended during the summer months. For more information, check out the palace's website.
More Best Things To Do in Istanbul
#1 Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)
Sultan Ahmed I was determined to build a mosque that rivaled the nearby Hagia Sophia, and most would agree that he accomplished this task – or, at least, came close. Since the early 1600s, the Blue Mosque has been quite the sight to behold, with an array of domes, semidomes and minarets (or narrow towers). It's also one of the biggest tourist draws in Istanbul.
Visitors say this mosque offers "stunning architecture inside and out." It can, however, get busy, so consider arriving early. And remember, the Blue Mosque is an active religious site, so dress conservatively. Women should wear headscarves, as is custom. If you forgot to bring one, you can borrow one from the mosque.
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