History of Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace was built by Sultan Mehmed II after he conquered Constantinople in 1453. The first palace constructed by him at the site of the Istanbul University, soon proved inadequate to meet the demands of Sultan's administration. Thus, he ordered another palace to be constructed at the site of the Byzantine acropolis, with the Golden Horn, the Seraglio and the Sea of Marmara encircling it.

The palace was walled off from the city to provide the necessary security and privacy. The Topkapi Palace was not only the residence of the Sultans, it was also the administrative center from where all the judicial and executive functions were carried out. Later it also became a seat of art and culture.

Over the centuries, the palace underwent many changes with additions being made to the original structure. Parts of the palace building were often destroyed due to fire or earthquakes and constant restoration work took place. Each Sultan that repaired a portion of the Topkapi Palace did it according to his own style or the architectural style prevalent at the time. It has thus evolved to its present form over the centuries and some of the older construction can only be seen in the earlier paintings or miniatures. The last building was added by Sultan Abdulmecid who later abandoned it to live in the newly constructed palace on the Bosphorus.

Today the Topkapi Palace is still a remarkable sight with its minarets, turrets and domes. It covers an enormous area of 173 acres which houses garden courtyards, kitchens, armory, workshops, baths, offices, halls and residential areas. Once it was a small city where thousands of people lived. In 1923, it was renovated once again to convert it to a museum that has today become one of Istanbul's most popular sights.