Following the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the construction of the Topkapı Palace was started in 1460 at the request of Fatih Sultan Mehmet and was completed in 1478. Topkapı Palace, which was not built simultaneously with all the additional buildings, such as the case is with Dolmabahçe Palace, was enlarged with the supplementary buildings added until the 19th century.
Topkapı Palace is located in one of the oldest historical regions of Istanbul. Located on the historical Istanbul peninsula between the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, the palace is one of the iconic structures of Istanbul. Topkapı Palace, established on an area of 700,000 square meters on the Eastern Roman acropolis in Sarayburnu, was the administrative, educational and artistic center of the empire for approximately four hundred years from Fatih Sultan Mehmet to the 31st Sultan Abdülmecid, as well as housing the dynasty. Although Topkapı Palace was gradually abandoned by the mid-19th century when the dynasty slowly moved to Dolmabahçe Palace, it preserved its historical importance and value.
After the founding of the Republic of Turkey, Topkapı Palace was converted into a museum on April 3, 1924, having the distinction of being the first museum of the Republic. Today, Topkapı Palace is one of the largest palace-museums in the world with its buildings, architecture, collections and approximately 300,000 archive documents.
Upon entering the sultanate gate, the palace structures consist of four transitional courtyards and the surrounding architectural structures. Among the palace structures surrounded by gardens and squares, are the first courtyard known as Alay Square, Hagia Eirene Church, Royal Mint, bakery, hospital, wood warehouse, and wicker makers' house.
The second courtyard of the palace is Divan Square, notable for being where the state administration takes place, also called Justice Square. Divan-ı Hümayun (Kubbealtı), the scene of many ceremonies throughout history, was the official meeting place of the Divan council, and the treasury is located right next to it. The Justice Tower is located behind the Divan structure, the entrance to the Harem next to Kubbealtı, with the courtyard also housing the Ward of the “Zülüflü” Guards (The Tressed Halberdiers) and the Royal Stables.
The third courtyard of the palace is also called Enderun Courtyard. In this section houses the Sultan's Audience Hall, Enderun Treasure, the Privy Room, as well as structures such as the Palace School established during the reign of Sultan Murat II.
In the fourth courtyard, which is the last courtyard, there are pavilions and hanging gardens of the Sultan. In this section, there are the Baghdad and Revan Pavilions and the Iftaree Gazebo, which are the most distinguished and aesthetically advanced examples of Ottoman classical mansion architecture. In the lower part of the fourth courtyard, Mecidiye Pavilion and the Wardrobe Chamber are the last buildings of the palace.