Click to view 800x600 version 
       Home > Museums of Turkey > Topkapi Palace    


The first outer gate of the Palace we come to is called the Bab-i Humayun, or Imperial Gate; it was built in 1459, 6 years after the Conquest.

After his victorious entry into the city, the young Conqueror Mehmet II retired to rest in the Old Seraglio of the time, which is today the University of Istanbul at Beyazit, he did not move to Topkapi until some time later, after the Palace had been properly fitted out. Thus this gate, which goes back to the Conqueror's reign, itself, comprises a separate building, with two domed bedrooms at the sides, two storerooms, an entresol reached by a staircase, three guard-rooms and two latrines.

This exterior section of the Sultan's residence was called "Kapicilar Ocagi"; it was opened at the time of the morning prayer and locked after the evening prayer.

Topkapi Palace: The Gate of Salvation In the interior at a point called "Kubbealti" (Under the Dome) the state functionaries met every Tuesday, the day set aside for deliberations. People having business with one of the government departments, merchants and traders and those with relatives serving inside the Palace, had to announce their identity in advance and explain the purpose of their visit.

This entrance gate into the Seraglio was the scene of important happenings, some of them bloody, in Ottoman History. Men of State, great personages of the Empire were executed here, Governors of imperial Provinces were hanged, the ringleaders of revolts had their severed heads exposed on these outer walls.

Viziers, men of learning, and foreign ambassadors visiting the Palace could pass through the gate either on foot or on horseback, to arrive at the second entrance.

After crossing the Bab-i Humayun, we come to an open space known as the First Courtyard of the Palace. At the farther end of this we see the Second Gate, called the Middle Gate, or Bab-us-Selam (Gate of Salutation).


The great gate before us now is known as the Middle Gate; it is the Gate of Salutation (Bab-us-Selam). It is flanked on either side by a tower of planed stone. The gate dates from Fatih (The Conqueror), the towers belong to the period of Suleyman Magnificent; all three underwent alterations after the Conquest of Hungary, being then endowed with a Hungarian style.

In accordance with Palace regulations, persons entitled to the use of horse or carriage were obliged to descend from them at this threshold of the Bab-us-Selam and proceed on foot. Only the sovereign had the right to pass through the second gate on horseback.

Tourists also are required to abandon their vehicles at this point, thus obeying a historic ordonnance! By an amendment not foreseen in history the taking of photographs is allowed and tickets for both tourist and camera are obtainable at the ticket office.

Topkapi Palace

Gate of Salvation
Second Courtyard
Entrance to the Harem
Gate of Felicity
Audience Hall
Library of Ahmet III
Third Courtyard
Room of the Relics
Fourth Courtyard
Baghdad Pavillion

The guards of this gate were under the orders of the "Kapucubasi Aga" (Aga-in-chief of the gatekeepers), which was one of the high posts of the Palace. This chief of the gatekeepers was responsible for communicating to those concerned the firmans (edicts) of the Imperial Divan, on which account he was received by the Valis (Governer - Generals of Provinces). Personages who had been granted an audience waited to be received in the room belonging to this Chief Gatekeeper of the Palace; those unfortunate enough to have incurred the Sultan's displeasure were tooted up in the cells below the towers, emerging to follow their destiny, either prison, forgetfulness in the bosom of their families, or the block placed outside the gate near the Executioners' Fountain.

The alter ego of the Sultan, his supreme representative, the Grand Vizier, arriving at this brilliant rank of power and splendour, becoming after he had crossed on foot the threshold of this second gate, the Lieutenant of the Empire, could always be relegated to the lowest rank at the lightest sign of the Sultan. Then he would have to give back the Imperial Seal entrusted to him in a little silk purse, and await the worst, without any help in the world, his life at stake...

Let us make our way into the second courtyard of the Palace, It was here that the janissaries received their thrice-yearly pay and swallowed down their legendary soup. Here on the two Bayrams, the "Saray Baklavasi" (Palace Baklava) is distributed. The same spot witnessed this rioting of the soldiery in revolt, the growling and yelling of the mob.

In the Palace of Sultans, at present, there are sections such as kiosks and residential apartments open for public visits because of their value in architecture and furniture as well as there are sections arranged as a museum with cabinets in which valuable objects are exhibited.

However, in such a world of complicated buildings, it will be necessary to make one or two expections in our principle. For example, the entrance of the Harem happens to be in the second courtyard not far from the Middle Gate, but the exit in the third courtyard; therefore, by keeping to the right, we shall arrive at the entrance of the Harem towards the end of our visit to the Palace and having visited Harem, we shall find ourselves once more in the third courtyard and from therepass under the Gate of Felicity once more and even through the second courtyard.

Opposite us can be seen the third and last of the interior gates of the Palace. Beyond a wall on our right extend the Palace kitchens, to the left we notice the building known as "Kubbe Alti".

Topkapi Palace continued...
Back to Museums

Topkapi Palace Museum

Sarayici, Sultanahmet

Telephone: 90-212-5120480

Open daily except Tuesdays, 09:30-16:00

Harem section can be visited only by a guided tour and tickets should be purchased separetely.


Contact address for researchers :

Kultur Bakanligi Anitlar ve Muzeler Genel Mudurlugu,
II. Meclis Binasi, 06100, Ulus, Ankara.
Telephone: 90-312-3104960
Fax: 90-312-3111417


©2003 ISTANBUL PORTAL. All Rights Reserved.

Topkapi Palace: An Illustrated Guide to Its Life and Personalities
Palace of Gold & Light: Treasures from the Topkapi, Istanbul
Topkapi: The Treasury
The Topkapi Saray Museum: Costumes, Embroideries and Other Textiles
The Topkapi Saray Museum: Carpets
The Topkapi Saray Museum: The Albums and Illustrated Manuscripts
Detailed information about Advertising !
Where is ISTANBUL ?
Click the map to view

  Area: 5.712 kmĀ²
  Population: 7.309.190
  Topkapi Palace is 15 km from Ataturk Airport