Topkapi Palace Museum

The Topkapi Sarayi, built by Mehmet the Conqueror as a Sultan's Palace, consists of a sprawling collection of buildings arranged around several interconnecting courtyards. Magnificently 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 3,000 people, it served as royal residence, harem, state administration 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 exquisitely designed rooms, intricately detailed fountains and gateways, and the splendid Treasury, housing one of the greatest collections of treasure in the world, afford insight into the opulent lifestyle of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire.

Address: Topkapi Sarayi, Sultanahmet

Website: www.ee.bilkent.edu.tr/~history/topkapi.html

Telephone: (212) 512 0480

Opening times: Open daily except Tuesdays from 9am-5pm

Admission: US$10 -15 depending on exchange rate; concessions available. The Harem can only be visited on a guided tour and a separate ticket is required for $10.