Topkapı Sarayı, the first place to visit on arrival in Istanbul, is located Sarayburnu in Istanbul. In the foremost place was the Topkapı Palace as the centre of Ottoman administration and the residence of many Ottoman Sultans. The palace was orginally a complex of ancillary buildings which had been used about four centuries without a break.
Google Maps - Topkapı Palace
Topkapı Palace is actually not a single building but a complex of individual buildings set out on a large garden.
Sections of Topkapı Palace
The Imperial Gate ( Bab-ı Hümeyun ) : was the main entrance to the palace during the Ottoman Period and remains so today.
Parade Ground ( Alay Meydanı ) :After entering through the Bab-ı Hümayun, the first courtyard that welcomes you is the Parade Ground of the Janissary Troops.
During the Ottoman Period most parts of the Topkapı Palace was forbidden to ordinary people. However, on certain days in the first courtyard was open to the public, when people could gain access to officials to pursue their business and put forward complaints. In this first courtyard there are other Byzantine and Ottoman buildings.
The Hagia İrene ( Aya İrini ) Church was one of the first Byzantine churches built the reign of Constantine. Behind the Hagia İrene ( Aya İrini ) Church is another important building that has survived to the present day: the Imperial Mint( Darphane-i Amire ). Minting Ottoman coins and then the coins of the Turkish Republic continued here until 1967. The road leads from the Imperial Gate ( Bab-ı Hümayun ) to another gate which, on both sides, has towers resembling a medieval castle. This is the Gate of Salutation ( Bab-üs Selam Kapısı ) connecting two courtyards. These were actually designed to provide vantage points for high state officials and military officers who took part in the Divan ( Imperial Council ) meetings.
Courtyard of the Imperial ( Divan Meydanı ) : is the second courtyard after Gate of Salutation. There are some celebraties and to distributed the wages of the soldiers of Ottoman millitary ( Ulufe ). To the Right of the courtyard is the first building opened to visitors, the Palace Kitchens ( Saray Mutfakları ),which has high chimneys. On the left of courtyard across the kitchens stands Chamber of the Imperial Council ( Divan-ı Hümayun ).
Chamber of the Imperial Council ( Divan-ı Hümayun ) : The term Divan ( Council ) referred to the meetings where the most important state affairs were discussed. Such meetings would deal with a wide range of problems. The next building attached to the Divan-ı Hümayun is the Imperial Treasury ( Hazine Bölümü ) where the state's treasures were kept.
Private Apartments of the Sultan ( Harem Daires ) : The most beatiful internal decoration can be found in the Harem, one of the most interesting part of Topkapı Palace.
One of the most important sections of Topkapı Palace is the Gate of Felicility ( Bab-üs Saade ) that serves as the passage from the second courtyard to third courtyard, and because of this was the most important gate of the palace. During holy day festivities the sultan seated in front of this gate and the ceremonies and processions making the event took place event took place on the courtyard in front of this gate.
Passing through Bab-üs Saade gate, the courtyard is Enderun courtyard.
The first building across the courtyard is the Audience Chamber ( Arz Odası ) where Ottoman Sultans met foreign embassies.
The fourth Courtyard ( last ) is Imperial Sofa ( Sofa-i Hümayun ) which was the terrace of the palace. There are the two pavilions of the Topkapı : the pavilion of Revan (Yerevan ) and of Bağdat ( Baghdad )
While Topkapı Palace construction was started on the orders of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, he died before its completion. The initial building was completed in 1478 during the reign of Sultan Beyazid II, and over the next 400 years the palace was enlarged by adding new buildings according to the needs of the period as a residence and administrative centre. Towards the mid-19th century sultans preferred the new palaces along the Istanbul Strait such as Dolmabahçe, Beylerbeyi and Çıragan. After the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, Topkapı Palace was transformed by government decree on April 3, 1924 into a museum of the imperial era on the orders of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
In my opinion, Topkapı Palace is the first place to visit on arrival in Istanbul. When you go to Topkapı Palace, you should to go the last courtyard(fourth) Imperial Sofa ( Sofa-i Hümayun ) and see to landsape from terrace.
The Museum can be visited between 09:00 and 17:00 every day except Tuesdays. You can look other infos from : www.topkapısarayi.gov.tr
The most important and holiest of all exhibition halls of the Topkapı Palace is the Chamber of Sacred Relics ( Mukkaddes Emanetler Dairesi ) which were set in the former Sultan's Private Chamber ( Has Oda ) and audience chamber as well as other ancillary chambers. The Sacred Relics considered holy and highly significant by all Muslims are exhibied here.