The Topkapı Palace Museum (Topkapı Sarayı)

Topkapi Palace was home to all the Ottoman sultans until the reign of Abdulmecid I 1839-1860, a period of nearly four centuries. The order for the construction of the Topkapi Palace on the Seraglio Point overlooking both Marmara and Bosphorus was given by Mehmed II after the conquest of Constantinapolis in 1453 The place was then an ancient olive grove. The final form of the first palace covered an area 700m², and was enclosed with fortified walls 1400 meters in length. The walls were pierced by a number of gates, namely the Otluk gate, the Demir gate and the Imperial gate (Bab-i Humayun), and a number of minor angled gates between them.

After the reign of Mehmed II the Conqueror, the palace grew steadily to form a city like complex of buildings and annexes, including a shore palace known as the Topkapi shore palace, as it was situated near the cannon gate -Topkapi- of the ancient walls of Istanbul. When the shore palace was burned down in 1863, it lent its name to the great complex we now know as Topkapi Palace. The main portal, the Bab-i Humayun, was suited next to the mosque of Ayasofya (Haghia Sophia Church), and this led a series of four courts surrounded by various structures.

The courts, chambers, pavilions and other sections can be viewed at the floor plan of Topkapi Palace. In this page, you can find pointers to the pictures of illuminated manuscript pages in the museum sections and pictures of sections illustrating the architecture of the palace. Please visit the pages at the left frame to get more information on the Palace and Museum. The museum director Prof. Ilber Ortayli writes in daily Milliyet once a week. Here are some of his articles: Divan-i Humayun, Harem, Enderun.

The imperial enclave of the Ottoman emperors for four centuries. Lavishly decorated, with four courts of increasing grandeur. In the second court of the entrance to the Harem (admission extra, only by joining a guided tour) and the State Treasury, housing a weaponry display. The third court has the Imperial Treasury, both Islamic and Christian relics, rugs, porcelain. The views from the Fourth Court over the Bosphorus are spectacular. You can also see Prophet Mohammed’s belongings. 30 TL (no concessions, credit cards and Turkish currency accepted. Harem entrance is 15 TL extra).

Bab-i Hümayün Caddesi (by tram: Gülhane Station)

Visitor Hours: between 09:00-17:00 hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 500 meters away walking from our hotel.

Ferry boat stations to princess islands and Bosphours

From Eminönü harbor, passenger boats travel up the Bosphorus and are a great way to experience Istanbul’s famous waterway and the border between Europe and Asia. Swap the crowded streets for views of palaces, serene villages, wooden summer houses and fishing harbors.

The bus waterway links the Black Sea with the Mediterranean and divides two continents (Europe to the west, Asia to the east). Fortunately for the confused visitor, all the boats (both passenger ferries and special tourist launches) leave from just one place: the Eminönü Docks just near the Dolmabahce Palace.

Touts descend on you as soon as you arrive offering you a variety of tourist trips. Don’t be deceived you can simply jump on the local ferries which criss-cross the Bosphorus between the Asian and European sides if you wish and explore the famous waterway at your own pace. If you want to go the whole hog, select the smarter option of a dinner on the boat entertained by traditional Turkish belly dancers and music.

Whichever you choose, at whatever price, you set off heading towards the mouth of the Black Sea (Olu Deniz to the Turks), past some fantastic sights including the Rococco facade of the–Dolmabahce Palace and the elegant Ciragan Palace, once home to Sultan Abdulaziz and now a grand hotel. You pass under the Bosphorus Bridge, one of the largest suspension bridges in the world, spanning the breadth of the Bosphorus and linking Europe to Asia. Note too the beautiful Ortakoy Mosque, a square domed structure, now dwarfed by the modern bridge beside it.

A few kilometres further on you come to the imposing fortresses of Rumeli Hisari and Anadolu Hisari. They glare across the waters at each other, remembering centuries of hostility between the Christians and the Muslims who fought over Constantinople.As you pass under the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge just past the fortresses, turn your gaze onto the Asian side. The wooden Ottoman summer houses lining the water, many of them beautifully restored, are known as yali and are now desirable residences once more after years of neglect.

The last stop is at the northern end of the Bosphorus at the village of Anadolu Kavagi, where the Black Sea opens out towards the Baltic States and Russia. If you’ve taken the public ferry (about 90 minutes) you could stop here and have a meal overlooking the water and then return later by ferry.

Eminönü (by tram: Eminönü Station)

Working hours: 06:00-24:00 hours everyday. 15 minutes away walking from our hotel.

Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)

It is not only the Hippodrome’s, but also Istanbul’s oldest monument. It is dated as 15th century BC; that is to say, this obelisk is 3500 years old. The Pharaoh made it built fort he memory of his victory. There are similar ones in Egypt and in many other big cities of Europe. In 390 BC, the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I brought it from Amon Temple of Karnak in the Luxor region in Egypt and it was erected in its present place of today.

Although in every 100 years average 6.5 scale earthquakes hit the city of İstanbul, it has been standing here for the past 1600 years without getting any damage. It is made from pink granite and its weight is about 300 tons. Although the original was 32.5 M high, 40% of the bottom was cut off for transportation. It is 20 M high today. On each four faces of the Obelisk, there are Egyptian Hieroglyphics that tells about the bravery of Pharaoh Tuthmose. At the top, God Amon and the pharaoh were pictured hand in hand.

The hawk name Horus below symbolizes the beginning of the text. Some human figures were destroyed, and also some letters below were cut from the center. The reason why the bottom of the obelisk is not flat is because there are 4 bronze feet under it. It is known that water games were held in the water canals attached to the feet. And at the very bottom, there is a marble base constructed in 389. on every four faces of this base, there are scenes from the activities, taken place in the Hippodrome.

Many reliefs such as the Emperor’s lodge, erecting the Obelisk, dancing before the races, horse races, Emperor receiving gifts were carved on the marble base.

A giant underground cistern built by Justinian in 532 to provide water to the city in cases of siege. A wooden walkway winds between the pillars, and lights and piped music add to the eerie atmosphere. Bring some type of fish food as you’ll see enormous fish swimming below your feet, and throw a coin into the pool to make a wish. The statues of Medussa are impressive.

Yerebatan Cad., Sultanahmet, Visitor Horus: 09:00-17:30 everyday.

400 meters away from our hotel