Topkapı Palace, which had been the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire that ruled three continents for centuries, was built in 1459. It was home to the sultans and their families until the reign of Sultan Abdülmecit. Therefore, it has a very rich collection today.
Topkapı Palace Museum
Everyday except Tuesday between 09.00 and 16.00
Tel : (0212) 512 04 80
The first days of the Ramadan Festival and Feast of Sacrifice between 12.00 and 16.00 Harem Room can be visited with a separate ticket in groups between 09.30 and 15.30
Many written sources state that the construction of Topkapı Palace started around 1459. It constantly grew and changed just like a living organism. Topkapı Palace is not a building built and completed according to a specific plan. Even during the rulership of Sultan Abdülmecid, who ordered the construction of Dolmabahçe Palace, and completely left Topkapı Palace, the Mecidiyeköy Manor House was built.
Other than the manor houses built for the accommodation of sultans, many other structures such as rooms for palace guards, a very large kitchen for palace residents, bedrooms for palace employees, Kubbealtı, where the council meetings were conducted, the Room of Hırka-i Saadet, where belongings of the prophet and caliphs were kept, Gülhane Hospital, Sultan III. Ahmed Library, the Enderun School, the Treasury, a stable for the horses of the sultan, and the Church of Hagia Irene which was also used as an arsenal were also located in the palace grounds.
Topkapı Palace was left in the middle of the 19th century and lost its function as the center of the state. The palace was turned into a museum in 1924. Weapons belonging to the palace collection are exhibited in the Treasury today. These weapons belong to the period between the 7th and 20th centuries. Horse harnesses of the palace and sultan’s carriages are exhibited in the main stable (Hasahır) of the palace. The ceramics, porcelais, glassware, and metal kitchenware used in the palace can be seen in the kitchens of the palace. There are belongings of the prophet and some caliphs which are also known as the Sacred Custodies in the Hırka-i Saadet building. The Ottoman treasure is exhibited in the Fatih Manor House. The exhibited items include the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, the Topkapı Dagger, and four thrones. Casual and ceremonial clothes of sultans can be seen in the Seferli Koğuşu (room of warriors and soldiers). Manor houses belonging to the Harem and sultans are other sections that should be seen.
(The Spoonmaker’s Diamond)
The 86 carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond is among the most well-known of the first 22 diamonds of the world. It is said that the 49 brilliants around the diamond were added by Mahmut II
According to one story, a poor man found the stone in the Eğrikapı junkyard in İstanbul in 1699 and exchanged it for three wooden spoons. The name of the diamond comes from this story. The spoonmaker sold this stone to a jeweler for 10 akças (silver coins). When it was understood that it was a very precious stone, the head jeweler was notified, and then the Grand Vizier Köprülüzade Fazıl Ahmet Paşa, and finally the Sultan. Mehmet IV had the diamond brought to the Imperial Palace with a Hattı Hümayun (a written command) and gave it to the diamond master of the palace. When this stone which was found in the junkyard was processed, a unique diamond of 86 carats was created. The head jeweler was then given the title of Kapıcıbaşı along with a bag of coins.
Kitchens and the porcelain collection
The palace kitchens with 20 chimneys are located at the right of the second courtyard. About 2500 of the 12,000 Chinese and Japanese porcelains are exhibited in this section. During the Ottoman period this section was used as a kitchen; over 1000 cooks and their assistants would cook and deliver the dishes designated to various parts of the palace. The exhibition of porcelains today is a chronological one. Choice pieces of the richest collection of the world are exhibited. Some sections of the kitchens have been preserved as they were and other sections have been designated for the porcelain and glassware exhibition. Silverware and European porcelain are exhibited in a separate section. Unique Chinese seledons are exhibited in the room at the right side of the entrance. Blue and white porcelain and multi-colored porcelain end with the Japanese porcelain room. Metal kitchenware, coffee sets and tombacs are exhibited in the Helvahane section.
The weapon collection
The big building near the “Divan-ı Hümayun” (the council of ministers) was the state treasury. The building with eight domes now includes a rich collection where old weapons are displayed in a modern way. Armor and weapons used by sultans as well as weapons used by state officials in various periods are exhibited along with the weapons brought from other countries.
The Justice Tower rises near the Council section, which was designated for the members of the government. Council meetings were conducted with the participation of viziers and clerks that gathered under the chairmanship of the grand vizier. Sultans would not participate in these meetings but could listen to them through a window opened on a high point of the harem section and covered with a curtain.
The collection of sultan’s clothes exhibited at the right side of the courtyard is
unique. The clothes were sewn by hand on special weaving looms and were carefully kept in special chests since the 15th century. There are about 2500 of them. The names of the sultan’s clothes in terms of the style of weaving and the type of material used are: Atlas, canfes, çatma, seraser, serenk, selimiye, kemha and gezi. Clothes woven with silk, gold and silver, the silk caret used by the sultan, and special specimens of prayer rugs are also exhibited.
THE SACRED OBJECTS
The sacred objects preserved and exhibited in Topkapı Palace Hırka-i Saadet Building include swords, holy books, and writing panels belonging to Hz. Mohammed. There are also some objects from the Kaabe, some building materials and objects that were taken after restoration of the Kaabe, and the locks and keys of the Kaabe. Historians say that Hz. Mohammed had nine swords and gave the one named zülfikar to Hz. Ali. Another sword was left to him by his father. A letter by the prophet written on leather in twelve lines with the seal of the prophet and the sakal-ı şerif (the beard of Hz. Mohammed) are kept in embroidered cases and attract the attention of visitors. The Sacred Objects were brought to İstanbul after the conquest of Egypt in 1517 by Yavuz Sultan Selim and some of them were collected from Islamic countries.
THE VICINITY OF TOPKAPI
Soğukçeşme Street This is the street where historical İstanbul houses can be found. These wooden houses with bay and framed windows were built with two or three floors and eight to ten rooms and date back to the 18th century. Some houses were becoming derelict because of lack of maintenance and turned into ruins during the 1960’s. Nine buildings restored by the Turing Institute in 1985-86 were turned into guest houses. The Roman Cistern was also restored and used as a tavern. The houses got their names from surrounding flowers such as jasmine and honeysuckle. One of the houses is currently being used as the İstanbul Library.
The Hagia Irene Museum
Topkapı Sarayı 1. Avlusu, Sultanahmet, Eminönü Tel : (0212) 522 09 89
Visits may be arranged by the Directorship of the Hagia Sophia Museum The church built in the 6th century could not be turned into a mosque as it is inside the palace. It was used as the arsenal of the Janissaries during the last period of the Ottoman Empire. Before it was moved to Harbiye, the Military Museum was also here. Inside the church there is a black cross placed on the golden floor which was the symbol of Byzantine churches. The sarcophagi of some Byzantine emperors that were behind the church have been moved to the Archaeology Museum The building also hosts music festivals due to its marvelous acoustic structure.
Fountain of Ahmet III
This fountain was built in 1729 by the Grand Vizier Damat İbrahim Paşa upon the command of Sultan Ahmet III to acknowledge the public service of his mother Rabia Emetullah Gülnüş Sultan. The fountain, which was designed as a square, has four sides with oval corners. There are sharp arched niches on all sides and it is covered with a wide wooden roof. The side that faces the sea is richly decorated and the sultan’s seal and inscription are there.
The first mint of the Ottoman Empires was opened here in 1727. It was expanded during the reign of Mahmut II and finally was moved in 1967. Valuable documents of the state such as passports and stock certificates are still printed here. This building includes courtyards, streets, the Roller Mill, and the Machine Shop. In the past gold minted here was carried with a rail system. Some rooms of the building are used for various exhibitions under the aegis of the History Association.
This was one of the “Great Courtyards” of Topkapı Palace. The park included a wood and rose gardens. In 1839 Mustafa Reşit Paşa read the Imperial Edict of the Administrative Reforms here. It was turned into a park in 1912. The park used to include a zoo, but it lacked maintenance for some time and was moved. Gulhane Park is now one of the best kept parks on the European side of İstanbul.
The Museum of Archaelogy
Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Gülhane-Sultanahmet Tel : (0212) 520 77 40 Everyday except Monday 09.20-17.00
The museum was founded by Osman Hamdi Bey, an artist and archaeologis,t on the 13th of June 1891. At that time it was called Müze-i Hümayun. The lateral wings were added in 1902 and 1908. A new large and modern section was also added and new arrangements were made in the museum in 1991, the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the museum. The architect of the monumental building was Vallaury. The big eerie sculpture of the god Bes was placed just past the entrance gate. On the right is the room of sculptures from the Antique era. All cleaned and comprehensively maintained for a new exhibition, the unique sculptures belonging to various ages from the Archaic period to the Roman era are lined up in this room. The first room includes the Kenan Erim gallery, where antique tombstones and embossed works as well as relics of the Persian civilization in Anatolia and the remains of Afrodisias are exhibited; then there is the gallery of three Marble Cities, where artifacts from Ephesus, Miletus and Aphrodisias are exhibited; and finally there are the galleries of the Hellenistic-influenced Roman and Roman era sculptures, Menderes, Manisa, and Hellenistic sculpture galleries. In addition, one can see the windows of souvenirs and bookshelves, the memorial room of Osman Hamdi Bey, and the galleries of artifacts which he excavated from the King’s Necropolis of Saida. The first three sarcophagi belong to the family of the Saida King Tabnit. A unique Lycian sarcophagus and the sarcophagus of Satrap are also in this gallery. The next section includes the well-known 4th century sarcophagus of Alexander and the sarcophagus of the crying women. The four sides of the sarcophagus which is thought to belong to Alexander the Great are decorated with high embossed works depicting the war between the Macedonians and the Persians and other scenes of hunting parties. The front section of the temple of Athena in Assos was recreated in the exact dimensions of the original on the lateral wall of the entrance to the main building. The section of “İstanbul Environmental Cultures” is the first exhibition room where the marvelous artifacts belonging to various ages and artifacts excavated in tumulus excavations are displayed in a modern way. The gallery of Byzantine artifacts is also in this section. Artifacts of Palestine, Syria and Cyprus are exhibited in chronological order in the gallery of “Anatolia and Civilizations of Neighboring Countries” which is located on the upper floors beside the section of “Anatolia through Ages” and “Ages of Anatolia and Troy” where also artworks of modern ages are exhibited in different areas.
This is an interesting two-storey building just past the Museum of Archaeology. It is also the first building ordered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet to be built in Topkapı Palace. The summer kiosk, dated 1472, is an example of Ottoman architecture under the influence of the Selçuk Empire with its façade animated with pillars, iwan terrace, and cut tile decoration. The entrance is covered above and there are arched rooms at the sides. Ceramics and glazed tiles belonging to the Selçuk and Ottoman Eras between the 13th and the 19th centuries are exhibited in chronological order. Glazed İznik tiles are important artworks of the museum.
Museum of Old Eastern Artifacts This was ordered by Osman Hamdi Bey and built by Alexandre Vallaury in 1883. At that time it was called Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi Ali (Academy of Fine Arts). It was turned into a museum in 1919. There are four main collections. These are the collections of Anatolia before the Greek rule, Mesopotamia, pre-Islamic Egypt and artifacts of the Arabistan Peninsula.
The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (İbrahim Paşa Palace)
Sultanahmet Square Tel : (0212) 522 17 50 Everyday except Monday 09.20-16.30
This is the first Turkish museum that comprehensively covers Turkish and Islamic art. The museum, which was established under the name of Evkaf-ı İslamiye Museum in the soup kitchen section of the Süleymaniye Külliye in 1914, was moved to the İbrahim Paşa Palace between the years 1965 and 1983 and opened to visitors in 1983. It is the only private palace other than palaces of sultans that has survived up to now. The building rises above arches and surrounds the terrace in the middle from three sides. Rare artwork created in various countries are exhibited in rooms and galleries. Stone and clay works, metal and ceramic objects, glassware and codexes are the most precious artwork of their eras. Brilliant Turkish carpets belonging to the 13thto the 20th centuries are exhibited in a section full of large windows and galleries. This unique exhibition is the richest collection of the world. Selçuk carpets of the 13th century and other eras are exhibited within this collection. The lower floor of the carpet section is the ethnographic section, where artwork and artifacts of daily Turkish life are exhibited.
The Press Museum
Divanyolu Cad. No: 84 Çemberlitaş Tel: (0212) 513 84 58 Except Sat- Mon 10.00-17.00
Old lithograph machines, type-setting machines, printing house blades, wooden and lead letter moulds and face mould materials are exhibited in this museum.
Soğukçeşme Sk. Sultanahmet P: (0212) 512 69 93 Except Monday 09.00-16.00
Carpet Museum is opened for visit as a sole Carpet Museum of Turkey first at Hünkar Qasr of Sultanahmet Mosque on the date of April 13, 1979, however closed in 2006 in scope of the reconstruction of museums projects of General Directorate of Foundations in modern and contemporary aspect; in 2013 it was reopened at Ayasofya Public Kitchen. Carpets that are selected from the unique artworks, which are woven between 14th – 19th Centuries, are exhibited in the first, second and third galleries of the Museum in accordance with the chronological sequence and pattern groups.
1.gallery: Feudalities Era – Early- Classic Ottoman Period Carpets. 2. gallery: Middle and Eastern Anatolia Medallion Carpets and Carpet Prayer Rugs. 3. gallery: Ottoman Period Large Sized Uşak Carpets and Pure Prayer Rugs.
Edirnekapı-Fatih Tel : (0212) 631 92 41 Everyday except Wednesday 09.00-16.30
This church is dated to between the 11th and 14th centuries. Beside its animated outer architecture, the interior mosaics and fresco decorations are masterpieces which are considered to have been the Renaissance of the Byzantine art. The lives of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary are depicted in the two corridors in the entrance section, as they are described in the Bible. Religious issues are also depicted in frescos in the lateral additional chapel. These also include outstanding figures of the church and the palace. Master artists decorated the building painstakingly under the hard conditions of the 14th century. Theodore Metohides, an important man of state, was the person who ordered the lateral chapel, the outer narthex and other decorations in 1320. Wall paintings are the work of a group of artists. There are mosaics in the interior section of the main church that depict the death of Mary, Mary carrying baby Jesus, and a saint. The whole parekklesion is decorated with frescos. The Revival (Anastasis) seen in the apse is a masterpiece. The Last Trial scene above it is wholly shown here. Mosaics that were located in the upper section of the middle side have not survived up to the present. The Kariye monastery and church became a neighbor to imperial palaces in time and became of more importance. In 1511, Vizier Hadım Ali Paşa turned the building, which was still used as a church after the conquest of İstanbul, into a mosque.
History of Islamic Science and Teknology Museum
All discoveries and inventions of Islamic scientists through the history of Islam will be exhibited in the main stables. The observatories, hospitals, chemical mechanisms, and institutional work from universities will be visually exhibited.
The Great Palace Mosaic Museum
Arasta Çarşısı Sultanahmet Tel : (0212) 518 12 05 Everyday except Monday 09.30-17.00 Every day except Monday 09.30-17.00
The Great Palace Museum is located to the south of the Blue Mosque inside the Arasta Bazaar, which was the külliye of the mosque. The museum was constructed in order to include mosaic flooring that remained in partially good condition on the northeastern side of the arcaded courtyard of the Great Palace of the Byzantine Empire. The Mosaics of the Great Palace dated between 450 and 550 A.D. They were processed with a unique mastery. Religious issues are not depicted in the mosaics. Instead, the subjects are taken from daily life and nature. These include a gryphon eating a lizard, an elephant struggling with a lion, a mare suckling a colt, children herding geese, a man milking a goat, a child feeding his donkey, a young girl carrying a pitcher, bears eating apples, and a hunter hunting a tiger.
The Great Palace Mosaic Museum was opened in 1953, affiliated with the Museum of Archaeology. It was later affiliated with the Museum of Hagia Sophia in 1979. In 1997, the project prepared within the framework of a protocol between the Ministry of Culture, the General Directorship of Museums and Monuments, and the Academy of Science of Austria in studies for the restoration and conservation of mosaics was completed.
The Train Museum
Sirkeci Train Station, Sirkeci Tel : (0212) 526 65 75 Everyday except Sunday and Monday
Three hundred items, including many taken from the Sirkeci Train Station, items of the Şark Railroads, dinner sets from the Orient Express, railroad tools, and pictures are located in this museum.
The Post Museum
Büyük Postane Binası, Sirkeci Weekdays 09.00-17.00
This museum hs four main sections: post, telegraph, telephone, and stamp sections. Clothes of postmen from the Ottoman era to the present are exhibited on mannequins in the post section. Beside them are mailbags carried by camels and horses as well as weapons carried by postmen for protection in the 1890’s. Telephones that operated with magnetos, batteries, and with or without dialing panels are also exhibited.
CONTACT DETAILS FOR THE OUTHER MUSEUMS
Pera Museum Meşrutiyet Caddesi No: 141 Tepebaşı-Beyoğlu Phone: (0212) 334 99 00 10.00-19.00 Tuesday – Saturday
12.00-18.00 Sunday (the Museum is closed on Monday, on the first day of Ramadan and Sacrifice Festival and on the new year holiday.)
Yedikule Fortress Museum
Kule Meydanı No: 4,
Phone : (0212) 585 89 33
Except for Wednesday 09.30-16.30
Divan Literature Museum (Galata Mevlevihanesi)
Galip Dede Caddesi No: 15 Tünel-Beyoğlu
Phone : (0212) 245 41 41
Except for Monday 09.30-17.00
Phone: (0212) 263 53 05
May be visited under the permission from Directorate of Hisarlar Museum.
Yahya Kemal Caddesi No: 42 Rumelihisarı, Sarıyer
Phone: (0212) 263 53 05
Except for Wednesday 09.30-16.30
Hava Harp Okulu, Yeşilyurt
Phone : (0212) 663 24 90/2215
Everyday except for Monday and Tuesday 09.00-11.30/13.00-16.30
İmrahor Monument (İlyas Bey Camii)
(St.Studios Manastırı Hagios İonnes Prodromos Bazilikası)
Phone : (0212) 522 17 50
May be visited under the
permission from Directorate of Hagia Sophia Museum.
Maslak Kasırları (Pavilions)
Maslak, Sarıyer Phone : (0212) 276 10 22
Everyday except for Monday, Thursday, 09.30-16.00 October 1st -February 28th, 09.30-17.00 March 1st -September 30th
Sultanahmet Meydanı No: 2 Eminönü
Tel : (0212) 518 29 19
Every day 09.30-16.00 except for Monday and Tuesday
Marmara Üniversitesi Rektörlük Binası Sultanahmet Meydanı
Phone : (0212) 518 16 00
Open 10:00 – 18:00 except Monday
Sea Museum (Deniz Müzesi)
Marmara Üniversitesi Rektörlük Binası Sultanahmet Meydanı
Phone : (0212) 261 00 40
Everyday except for Monday and Tuesday 09.00-12.00
Adam Mickiewicz Museum
Dolapdere, Tatlı Badem Sokak, Beyoğlu
Phone : (0212) 253 66 98
Everyday 09.30-17.00 except for Monday
Florya Atatürk Sea Villa Florya
Phone : (0212) 426 51 51
Everyday except for Monday and Thursday, 09.00-15.00 between October 1st – February 28th,
09.00-16.00 between March 1st -September 30th
Askerî Müze ve Kültür Sitesi Komutanlığı, Harbiye, Şişli
Phone : (0212) 233 27 20
Everyday except for Monday 09.30-16.00. The Janissary Band’s spectacular live Performance is available in pm, please check the time.
Âşiyan Yokuşu, Bebek Phone : (0212) 263 69 86
Halaskârgazi Caddesi No: 250, Şişli
Phone: (0212) 240 63 19
Everyday except for Thursday and Sunday
Kont Szchenyi Fire Brigade Museum
İtfaiye Caddesi No: 9, Fatih
Phone : (0212) 635 71 74
everyday during the weekdays 08.30-16.30
City Museum (Şehir Müzesi)
Barbaros Bulvarı, Yıldız
Phone : (0212) 258 53 44
09.00-16.00 except for Monday and Tuesday
Naval and Sea Products Museum Beykoz
Phone : (0212) 413 21 32
May be visited under the permission from the Directorate of the Museum.
Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar Museum House Heybeliada
10.00-16.00 Except for Monday
Private Yapı Kredi Vedat Nedim Tör Museum
Yapı Kredi Kültür Merkezi
İstiklal Caddesi No: 285 Beyoğlu
Phone : (0212) 293 37 10
10.00-19.00 Everyday during the
weekdays, 10.00-18.00 Saturday, 13.00-18.00 Sunday
Sakıp Sabancı Museum
İstinye Caddesi No: 22 Emirgân, Sarıyer
Phone : (0212) 229 55 18
10.00-17.00 Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; 10.00-19.00 Wednesday, Saturday; 12.00-17.00 Sunday
Sadberk Hanım Museum
Piyasa Caddesi 27-29 Büyükdere-Sarıyer
Phone : (0212) 242 38 13-14
10.00-18.00 Everyday except for Wednesday
Painting and Sculpture Museum
Dolmabahçe Cad. Beşiktaş
Phone : (0212) 261 42 98
12.00-16.00 Everyday except for Monday and Tuesday
Özel Sait Faik (Abasıyanık) Museum
Phone : (0216) 381 21 32
10.00-12.00/14.00-17.00 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, 10.00-13.00 Saturday
Private TÜRVAK Cinema and Television Museum
Şehit Teğmen Mehmet Ali Yılmaz Sk No: 4 Kavacık, Beykoz
Phone : (0216) 425 19 00
Liman İşletmeleri Sahası
Meclis-i Mebusan Cad.No:4 Karaköy
Phone : 0(212) 334 73 00
Turkish Jewish Museum
Karaköy Meydanı Perçemli Sk. Karaköy
Phone : (0212) 292 63 33
Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu, Gülhane
Phone : (0212) 520 77 74
Hilmi Nakipoğlu Fotoğraf Makineleri Müzesi
Nefus Nakipoğlu Zihinsel
Engelliler Okulu 4. kat,
Osmaniye Cad. No: 18/B, Bakırköy
Phone : (0212) 543 09 20
Hafta içi her gün 09.00-17.00 saatlerinde ziyarete açıktır
SALT Galata Ottoman Bank Museum
Bankalar Caddesi 11
Phone: (0212) 334 22 00
Tues – Sat: 12.00 – 20.00
Sun 12.00 – 18.00
SALT is free.
Orhan Kemal Museum
Akarsu Caddesi No:32 Cihangir
Phone : (0212) 292 92 45
10.00-17.00 Every day
Replicas of Turkey’s Highlights.
İmrahor Caddesi Borsa Durağı Mevkii – Sütlüce
Phone :(0212) 222 28 82
Ömerpaşa Caddesi Dr. Zeki Zeren Sokağı No:17
Göztepe / İST
Phone : 0 (216) 359 45 50 – 51
Week days: 09.30 -18.00
Saturday – Sunday : 09.30-19.00
(Museum is closed on Mondays.)