Topkapı Palace

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View of the palace from the Golden Horn
Topkapı, entrance gate
Model of the entire system in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The hall with a fountain in the harem
Mother-of-pearl inlays and tiles in the Baghdad kiosk

The Topkapı Palace ( Ottoman طوپقپو سرايى Topkapı Sarayı , German 'Kanonentor-Palast' ) in Istanbul , in German also Topkapi Palace or Topkapi Seraglio , was the residence and seat of government of the sultans as well as the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire for centuries .

Construction began soon after the conquest of Constantinople (1453) by Sultan Mehmed II . First he had a palace built on today's Beyazıt Square ( Beyazıt Meydanı ). A little later, however, he decided on a second project elsewhere. Since 1459, a new palace, initially consisting of two courtyards (now the 2nd and 3rd courtyard), was built on the headland between the Golden Horn and the Sea of ​​Marmara, now known as Sarayburnu , which was completed in 1468. Parts of the Byzantine Mangana Palace were built over. In 1478 a defensive wall was completed around the palace. a. formed the space for today's first courtyard. The main features of the basic structure of the palace were thus established as early as the 15th century. Even after the later redesigns, the building is one of the most important architectural examples of the Renaissance era in Europe.

The complex got its present appearance through extensive renovations and extensions up to the beginning of the 18th century. The last major addition was the Great Pavilion (Mecidiye Köşkü) , which was built in 1840 by the Armenian architect Sarkis Balyan . From Mehmed II, all Ottoman rulers resided in Topkapı Palace until Sultan Abdülmecid I moved into the new Dolmabahçe Sarayı on the other side of the Golden Horn on the banks of the Bosphorus in 1856 . Both palaces are now museums .

The palace does not consist of a single one, but, true to Turkish tradition, of several buildings in a large garden. With an area of ​​over 69 hectares and up to 5000 residents, the palace was a city in its own right. He was initially called Saray-ı Cedîd-i Âmire  /سرای جديد عامرهor Yeni Saray  /يکی سرای / 'New Palace', before the name Topkapı Sarayı , derived from the palace's own cannon foundry, caught on in the 18th century .

The palace is divided into four courtyards, each of which can be reached through its own gate. With its location on a headland, it offers an unprecedented panoramic view of Istanbul, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.


General plan

First yard

The main entrance to the palace grounds is the Bâb-ı Hümâyûn  /باب همايون / 'Grand gate'. To the left and right of the gate are rooms that were intended for the guards. Above the arch there is a calligraphic inscription by Ali bin Yahya Sofî, dated 1478, and thus originated during the reign of Mehmed II . In the first courtyard there were mainly rooms for services. Parades were held in the park-like square.

Second yard

The second courtyard was the political center and housed state and administrative rooms. The palace kitchen, which produced up to 6,000 meals a day, was housed along the entire length of the east side. In addition, the accommodations of the lancers, the sultan's bodyguard , were located in this courtyard.

Third courtyard

The third courtyard is accessed through the Bâb-üs Saade  /باب السعاده / 'Gate of Bliss'. The courtyard could only be entered with express permission. Here was the throne room for receptions of the highest civil servants, the viziers , and foreign guests. On both sides of the gate was the Enderun Palace School , where the youngsters were trained for state and administrative professions. In order to prevent corruption, there were three essential requirements for young men from the Ottoman Empire who were admitted to the palace school for training - sometimes as slaves -: 1. They were not allowed to be Turks. 2. They had to be orphans . 3. No relative was allowed to work in the palace. The Darüssaade, the Forbidden Place Harem (from Arabic حرام/ haram = forbidden, taboo ). There were the private chambers of the sultan and his harem ladies, up to 2000 women, who lived in their rooms under the direction of the sultan's mother . In a separate area of ​​the harem was the kafes , the so-called "prince prison",

Fourth yard

In the fourth courtyard there were additional parks and gardens on various terraces. Several important pavilions and kiosks have been preserved . a. the Baghdad Kiosk (Bağdad Köşkü), built in 1638 after the conquest of Baghdad by Murad IV.

The furnishings of the rooms of the palace testify to the immeasurable wealth of the Ottoman rulers. Only the finest building materials such as marble and tropical woods , the most precious carpets and the most expensive furniture were used; In addition, tons of gold was used for decoration and decoration.

Todays use

A museum has been housed in the Topkapı Palace since 1923. It houses collections of porcelain, manuscripts such as a recipe book in the court pharmacy in the palace used from 1608 to 1767, portraits, robes, jewels and weapons from the Ottoman Empire, as well as Islamic relics such as the weapons of Muhammad and the first caliphs , one of the oldest copies of the Koran , the card of Piri Reis or the whiskers of the Prophet Mohammed. Conservative Muslims are therefore calling for the palace to be closed to tourism.


The Topkapı Palace served as the backdrop for the film of the same name, Topkapi, starring Melina Mercouri , Maximilian Schell and Peter Ustinov in 1964 .


  • Fahir Iz: Topkapi, the sultan 's palace in Istanbul (= classic travel destinations. Turkey ). Pawlak, Herrsching 1989, ISBN 3-88199-601-X .
  • Gülru Necipoğlu: Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power. The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. MIT Press, Cambridge MA et al. a. 1991, ISBN 0-262-14050-0 (basic presentation with an overview of the sources and secondary literature pp. XII - XV).
  • Treasures from the Topkapi Seraglio. The age of Suleyman the Magnificent. Reimer, Berlin 1988, ISBN 3-496-01050-9 .

Web links

Commons : Topkapi Palace  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Official website of the Topkapı Palace
  2. Klaus Kreiser: The Ottoman State 1300-1922 . Munich 2001, p. 1.
  3. Arslan Terzioğlu: A previously unknown manuscript about the manufacture of medicines in Topkapı Castle in İstanbul and their significance for the history of pharmacy. Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları, Istanbul 1992 (Turkish and German text with facsimile of the manuscript in Arabic script).

Coordinates: 41 ° 0 ′ 46 ″  N , 28 ° 59 ′ 0 ″  E