Category Archives: Topkapi Palace

Attractions Within Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Most of your favorite attractions in Istanbul would most likely be located within the Sultanahmet vicinity and are within walking distances. Choosing a hotel close to this area makes sense as you’ll save on transport cost. You’ll find lots of hotels to suit your budget in Sultanahmet and the tram that runs through it makes traveling around Istanbul convenient.

The major attractions in Sultanahmet are :
1. The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)
2. The Hippodrome
3. Colourful Building
4. Arasta Bazaar
5. Topkapi Palace
6. Hagia Sophia
7. Basilica Cistern
8. Gulhane Park

The attractions are listed in a sequence that will avoid uphill walk. Get off the at the Sultanahmet tram stop for your first attraction, The Blue Mosque a short walk away. The last attraction, Gulhane Park will be a downhill walk from Basilica Cistern. If you intend to do your visit in reverse order, the walk from Gulhane Park to Basilica Cistern will be a taxing uphill walk, let alone if you have to push a wheelchair.

(The famous Grand Bazaar is a brisk seven minutes slight uphill walk from Sultanahmet tram stop or you can take the tram and get off one stop ahead at Cemberlitas).

Attractions in Sultanahmet area

Attractions in Sultanahmet area. Click to enlarge.

1. Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)
Alighting from your tram at Sultanahmet tram stop, walk across Sultan Ahmet Square to The Blue Mosque, your first attraction. Do bear in mind that you will be visiting a mosque and you should be properly attired. Being a working mosque, non-Muslims will not be allowed to enter before or after the start of prayers. Visit this site for visiting hours for non-Muslims.

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)

The Blue Mosque as seen from across Sultanahmet Park.

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)

Entrance into the Mosque from the inner courtyard.

2. The Hippodrome
Exiting The Blue Mosque, head left for The Hippodrome. These are two columns of tall ‘pillars’ one being the ‘Obelisk of Theodosius’ and the other ‘Walled Obelisk’. In-between, you find the ‘Serpent Column’.

The Hippodrome

Walled Obelisk

The Hippodrome

The first of the two pillars you’ll reach coming from the Blue Mosque – Obelisk of Theodosius

3. Colourful Building
Not far from the Hippodrome walking towards Arasta Bazaar, you’ll see these colourful building. I’m not sure what this is but you’ll see a restaurant besides it, with the dining area extending well behind this multi coloured facade. Nice to have selfies here.

Colourful building

A restaurant is to the right. It’s dining area extending well behind the multi coloured facade.

From another angle.

4. Arasta Bazaar
Walking straight on from the colourful building, will take you to Arasta Bazaar. As the name implies, it’s a bazaar – a rather less visited, less crowded bazaar. Prices are a little on the high side here and varieties aren’t that varied. Wouldn’t miss much if you skipped this.

Arasta Bazaar

One of the entrances to Arasta Bazaar.

Arasta Bazaar

A rather ‘high-end’ bazaar feeling here.

5. Topkapi Palace
Exiting Arasta Bazaar from the other end, head for Topkapi Palace 1st courtyard entrance, about 450m away. This is one of Istanbul’s main attraction with lots and lots of visitors during peak season. You’ll be well advised to get online tickets if you intend to go in.

Topkapi Palace.

It’s another 400m to this 2nd courtyard entrance into the palace grounds.

Topkapi Palace

Palace building inside the complex.

6. Hagia Sophia
Another main attraction of Istanbul is Hagia Sophia. As with Topkapi Palace, the ticket crowd can be maddening at Hagia Sophia. Obtaining online tickets is a clever option.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia from the outside.

Hagia Sophia

View of the ground floor from the upper terrace.

7. Basilica Cistern
Across the road from Hagia Sophia is Basilica Cistern, an underground chamber capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters of water. Although this is a lesser attraction, crowd do build up at times. Unfortunately, you would not be able to get online tickets for Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Pillars inside Basilica Cistern.

Basilica Cistern

One of the two Medusa heads inside Basilica Cistern.

8. Gulhane Park
If you are visiting Istanbul in April through May, do pay a visit to Gulhane Park to see the beautiful tulips. The park isn’t too big, thus you get to see varieties of tulips but not get overwhelmed. A lot of benches in the park for you to rest. No entrance fees to enter.

Gulhane Park

The multi coloured tulips in Gulhane Park.

Gulhane Park

Black tulips in Gulhane Park.

Night pictures of Sultanahmet attractions. Due to the close proximity of our hotel, Star Holiday Hotel, we can choose what time to photograph these attractions.

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)

Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque).

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia.

The ‘Serpent Column’ of The Hippodrome in-between Obelisk of Theodosius and Walled Obelisk.

Topkapi Palace & Hagia Sophia Online Ticket

Save your energy, time & frustration. Get online e-tickets for Topkapi Palace & Hagia Sophia here. Avoid the madding crowd at Hagia Sophia and the slightly busy Topkapi Palace ticket office. With your e-tickets, just proceed to the entrance turnstile to scan your e-tickets and enter right away.

If you are unlucky to be visiting these attractions during peak season, believe me, you would not want to stand in line for tickets to Hagia Sophia. The crowd outside will also give an indication how’s it’s going to be inside.


credit:reiendaa.blogspot.com

credit:artphototravel.net

Steps to purchase your online tickets are detailed below. It’s a pity this site do not sell online tickets for Basilica Cistern, an attraction just across the street from Hagia Sophia, all within walking distance of each other located around Sultanahmet area.

STEP 1
1. Click the arrow key for the drop-down option box and select which attraction (only one) you wish to visit.
2. Select quantity of tickets required.
3. Click the ‘Add To Cart’ button.
If you require tickets for other attractions, repeat steps 1 – 3.
4. Click ‘Next’.

 

STEP 2
On the 2nd page, you are required to fill the shipping address. DON’T WORRY, nothing is sent to that address. Your e-tickets will be e-mailed to you. Leave blank for ‘Your Citizenship No’. You can use your hotel’s address for the address box. Once everything is filled up, click “Save & Next’.

 

STEP 3
Page 3 will display summary of your e-ticket order. If every thing is in order, click ‘Go To Purchase’.

 

STEP 4
The 4th page will request for your credit card information. Once duly filled, click ‘Purchase’.

Upon successful payment, you’ll receive an e-mail of your transaction detail with an attachment for you to print your e-ticket. Cut out your ticket and bring it along during your visit to the said attraction. Although nowhere on the website nor on the ticket mentioned of expiry date, we were made to understand it is valid for 1 year from the date of issuance.

All tickets are issued under one name. Back in 2014 (tripadvisor) there were fury as only the named person with corresponding ID were allowed to enter but on the ticket officer’s discretion, the others were later allowed to enter as well. For my instance in October 2017, no ID checks were made. Me & wife simply scanned the QR code at the turnstile and went in. No hassle.

If you want peace of mind, you could purchase the e-tickets under different names. This would involve multiple purchase transactions.

e-ticket for Topkapi Palace.

e-ticket for Topkapi Palace.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

October 2017

Our first day out in Istanbul is a visit to Topkapi Palace which is less than 10 minutes walk from Star Holiday Hotel. On the way, you’ll walk through Sultanahmet Park and walk past the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The main entrance (Imperial Gate) by the side of Hagia Sophia fronting the non functioning Sultan Ahmet III fountain, will take you to the Palace first courtyard. No entrance ticket is required yet.

Topkapi Palace

The main entrance (Imperial Gate) as seen from Sultan Ahmet III fountain (right).

Topkapi Palace

A closer view of the main entrance (Imperial Gate).

Construction of the Topkapi Palace started in 1460 and completed in 1478. It became the administrative centre and residence of the imperial Ottoman court. About 30 Sultans ruled from the Topkapı Palace from 1478 to 1856. After the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, Topkapi Palace, was transformed into a palace-museum in 1924. It is reputed for its architectural structures, antique collection and approximately 300,000 archive papers.

Once you pass the main entrance, you’ll be in the first courtyard. It is the largest of the courtyards. Hagia-Irene, formerly a church served as an armory during the Ottoman period and the other service buildings like the Mint, Oven and Hospital are located here as well.

Topkapi Palace

Hagia Irene or Saint Irene church, now a museum in the first courtyard.

The entrance fee to Topkapi Palace is 40₺. Tickets can be bought from the ticket office inside the first courtyard else, e-tickets are available here. You scan your ticket upon entering the second courtyard after security check. Topkapi Palace has four courtyards, each serving different purpose with passages connecting each other. It is surrounded with greens and gardens for which, the Gulhane Park, now open to public was once part of the palace grounds.

Topkapi Palace

The four courtyards represented graphically.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace map.    Credit : budgettraveltalk.com/2017/08/25/topkapi-palace-views-istanbul

The second gate has two guard towers called “Gate of Salutation”, which leads to the second courtyard. This was the administrative centre of the palace. The Tower of Justice, to the left is a watchtower dating back to the 15th century, is the tallest structure within the palace. The Imperial Council Hall where the Ottoman Empire was literally govern from, is in-front of the Tower of Justice. The palace kitchens and confectionaries among others, are located here too.

Topkapi Palace

“Gate of Salutation”, the entrance to the second courtyard. The ticket office is to the right.

Topkapi Palace

Ticket office just before the entrance of the second courtyard. Credit : mikestravelguide.com

"Gate of Salutation"

Scan your ticket at the turnstile after security checks inside.

Topkapi Palace

Model of Topkapi Palace after the turnstile.

Topkapi Palace.

Tower of Justice at the back. Imperial Council Hall in-front.

Topkapi Palace.

Frontage of the Imperial Council Hall.

Topkapi Palace

Sokhumi Fortress inscription. The inscription originally belonged to the Fortress of Sokhumi on the Black Sea later brought to the Topkapi Palace grounds.

All paths in the Second Court will lead to the “Gate of Felicity” that gives access to the Third Courtyard. It houses the private residence of the Sultan and the palace school. This is the Sultan’s private domain where he spent his days. The Chamber of Holy Relics located here, consists of repository for Islāmic relics, including the mantle, sword, and bow of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Housed in the Pavilion of the Conqueror, is the palace’s most famous collections of imperial jewels. The Library of Sultan Ahmed III, is situated behind the Audience Hall.

Topkapi Palace

“Gate of Felicity” leading to the third courtyard.

Topkapi Palace

Audience Hall just after the Gate of Felicity.

Topkapi Palace

Dormitory of Privy Chamber.

Topkapi Palace

Attire of Fatima, daughter of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) displayed at the Holy Relic chamber.

Topkapi Palace

Benches to rest in the third courtyard.

Topkapi Palace

Autumn flowers in the third courtyard.

Topkapi Palace

A sort of burned out tree trunk, but the tree survived.

The fourth and last courtyard of the palace consists primarily of private terraced gardens and pavilions of the Sultan. From here, he has a great view of the city overlooking the Golden Horn, Bosphorus Straits and Marmara Sea. Many of the Ottoman Sultans had an interest in flowers and gardening, and the fourth courtyard gardens are filled with tulips or roses depending on the season.

Topkapi Palace

Autumn roses in the fourth courtyard garden.

Topkapi Palace

Terrace pool and fountain.

Topkapi Palace

View across the Marmara Sea from Topkapi.

This was our second visit to Topkapi Palace, the first being 2013. Nothing much has changed since. You wouldn’t miss much thus, you might want to utilise the 40₺ entrance fee for other attraction elsewhere.