The Topkapi Palace is located on an area of 700.000 square metres on the East Roman acropolis on the Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu) a promontory of the Historical Peninsula surrounded by the Marmara Sea, Bosphorus and Golden Horn. The construction work started in 1460 and was completed in 1478.
It served as the administrative, educational and arts centre of the empire beginning with Sultan Mehmed I the Conqueror until the 38th monarch Sultan Abdülmecid for nearly four hundred years.
The entrance of the palace is the Imperial Gate near Hagia Sophia and the palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings surrounded by gardens and yards.
The first courtyard of the palace (Alay Meydanı) where the citizens are allowed to enter for application contains the external service buildings such as the Hagia Irene Church which was used as the imperial armoury, the Imperial Mint, bakery and hospital.
The second courtyard is the Divan or Justice Square, where the administrative buildings located. This courtyard which witnessed numerous ceremonies during the history also hosts the Imperial Council (Divan-ı Hümayun) called also as Kubbealtı which means “under the dome” and the treasury of the Imperial Council. The Justice Tower which is a symbol of sultan’s justice is located behind the building of the Imperial Council.
The third courtyard is the Inner Palace (Enderun) and contains the privy chambers of the sultans and the dormitories and buildings of the Palace School established during the reign of Sultan Murad III.
Buildings exclusive to the sultan like the Audience Chamber, also known as Audience Hall or Chamber of Petitions (Arz Odası) where the sultan received the state officials and foreign ambassadors, Conqueror’s Pavilion (Fatih Köşkü), Imperial Treasury (Enderun Hazinesi) and the Privy Chamber (Has Oda) are located in this courtyard. The wards of the Inner Palace School, named Big Room, Small Room, the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force, the Dormitory of the Royal Pages, the Pantry and the Treasury wards line up after the Gate of Felicity (Babüssaade) surrounding the courtyard.
After the third courtyard comes the fourth courtyard consisting of sultan’s private pavilions and hanging gardens. This place which can also be reached through the gates of the Privy Chamber to the Marble Terrace contains the masterpieces of the classical kiosk architecture of Ottoman art like Circumcision Room, Baghdad Kiosk, Revan Kiosk and the Iftar Bower.