A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Topkapi Palace, a city within the city, overlooking the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, and the Marmara Sea, welcomed the sultans and their families from 1459 to 1863.
Visiting this Arabian Nights palace gives you an idea of the refined lifestyle of the rulers. Passing through the Imperial Door, you cross the courtyard and confront the splendour of the seraglio. The most lavish rooms are those of the Treasury, the Imperial Council, and, of course, the phantasmal harem, which was once inaccessible to all but the imperial family and the concubines of the sultan. Take time to admire the wall tiles and the carved Mashrabiya, which provide a marvellous oriental flavour to your visit.
To make the most of the magic of the place, try to get here when it opens or at the very end of the day; there are fewer tourists at these times, the light is softer, and the heat is less overwhelming.
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