Topkapi Palace Museum
Topkapi Palace Museum © L.C. Nottaasen
Built by Mehmet the Conqueror as a sultan's palace, the Topkapi Sarayi consists of a collection of buildings arranged around several interconnecting courtyards. Situated on one of the seven hills of Istanbul with uninterrupted views over the Bosphorus River and the Golden Horn, it was the seat of the Ottoman Empire for almost four centuries. Home to nearly 3000 people, it served as a royal residence, harem, administration building, and military barracks. One of the most popular sections is the harem, once the quarters of about 300 women who were the sultans' wives and concubines, and their children. Visitors can view the apartments, halls, and terraces of the harem, and see the lavish royal bedchamber and imperial hall. No expense was spared in decorating the palace and its exquisitely designed rooms, intricately detailed fountains, and splendid treasury housing one of the greatest collections of treasure in the world. It affords insight into the opulent lifestyle of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire.