Initial construction began in 1459, ordered by Mehmet II, the Conqueror and it was official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years of their 624-year reign, from 1465 to 1856.
The palace is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller pavilions. At the height of its existence as a royal residence, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, formerly covering a larger area with a long shoreline.
Topkapi Palace gradually lost its importance by the end of the 17th century, as the Sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosporus. In 1856, Sultan Abdül Mecid I decided to move the court to the newly built Dolmabahce Palace, the first European-style palace in the city. Some functions, such as the imperial treasury, the library, mosque and mint, were retained though.
After the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, Topkapı Palace was converted into a museum by government decree on April 3, 1924. The Topkapı Palace Museum is under the administration of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public today. The palace is full of examples of Ottoman architecture and also contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, as well as a display of Ottoman treasure and jewelry.
* It is located behind the Hagia Sophia, just couple of minutes from Sultanahmet tram stop.
*Open everyday except Tuesdays. April to October 09.00 am. to 06.00 pm, November to April 09.00am. to 05.00 pm.
* Entrance fee is 20 Turkish liras.
*The entrance to the Harem section is from the second courtyard of the palace and the fee is 15 Turkish liras.