Istanbul E-pass includes a Topkapi Palace Museum Harem section entrance ticket with an Audio guide. Simply scan your QR code at the entrance and get in. The audio guide is available; in English, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, Persian, Chinese, and Korean.
Harem is an Arabic word that means "forbidden" in English. Harem was not merely an erotic hothouse, unlike many people desire to believe. Except for the eunuchs who guarded the premises, the Sultan's and his sons' private territory was thus restricted to all other males. Women, on the other hand, were able to enter with ease. There was no way out once you were inside.
The Harem was a labyrinth of roughly 300 brilliantly tiled chambers connected by courtyards and fountain gardens, built at the end of the 16th century. Over 1.000 harem ladies, children and eunuchs called it home (or prison) at its peak.
Because Islam outlawed the enslavement of Muslims, most harem women were Christians or Jews, most of whom were given as gifts by potentates and nobility. Girls from Circassia, which is now Georgia and Armenia, were particularly prized for their stunning beauty.
Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, his wife Hurrem Sultan, and their family to the Harem of Topkapi Palace began this part's rigorous building and organization, hidden behind high walls from Selamlik (Selamlique) and other courtyards in the palace. Finally, after many years of changes and expansions, the Harem apartments were slowly developing in the second courtyard and backyard.
Rooms, baths, and mosques in the Topkapi Palace Harem Section
Around 400 rooms, nine baths, two mosques, a hospital, wards, and laundry may be found in the courtyards, pided by gate entrances containing barracks, chambers, kiosks, and service buildings. The Harem is decorated with Kutahya and Iznik tiles and is one of the most beautiful sections of the palace.
"The Privy Chamber of Murad III," one of the primary structures of Ottoman architecture, great Mimar Sinan's work, "The Privy Chamber of Ahmed III, also known as Fruit Room. It is one of the brilliant examples of The Tulip Era that created a flower garden effect, and "The Twin Kiosk/Apartments of the Crown Prince," known for its inside fountains, are among the most striking buildings of Harem.
The Main Entrance, The Court of the Concubines, The Imperial Hall, The Queen Mother's Apartments, The Sultan and Queen Mother's Baths, The Courtyard of the Favorites, The Wards of Tressed Halberdiers, The Pipe Room, and The Bath of Tressed Halberdiers are among the other areas worth seeing in the Topkapi Palace Harem Section.
Inside the Topkapi Palace Harem
Unfortunately, just a few of the approximately 400 rooms are accessible to the public in the Topkapi Palace Harem section. For example, the Gate of Carts (Arabalar Kapisi) leads to the Dome with Cupboards (Dolapli Kubbe), a room full of shelves and cupboards where the eunuchs kept track of their acts.
The Courtyard of the Eunuchs is reached via the Hall of the Ablution Fountain (Sadirvanli Sofa), the Harem's authentic entrance hall guarded by eunuchs. Their dorms can be seen on the left, behind the marble column. You can find the principal eunuch's (Kiler Agasi) apartment near the conclusion.
The trip then goes into the Courtyard of the Concubines past the Harem baths, in which the concubines bathed and napped, and the Concubines' Corridor, where the eunuchs set the concubines' plates on the counters along the passage. In the Harem, this is the tiniest courtyard.
The trip continues to the Imperial Hall (Hunkar Sofasi) after passing through the Sultan's and Queen Mother's Baths (Hunkar ve Valide Hamamlar). It is the largest dome in the Harem, which served as a gathering place for the Sultan and his women for amusement and essential receptions. The Sultan would be watching the festivities from his golden throne.
After then, the trip moves on to the Crown Prince's Twin Kiosk (Cifte Kasirlar) or Apartments (Veliaht Dairesi). With their magnificent Iznik tiled floors, the crown prince's privy chambers were where he lived in isolation and received Harem training.
The Favorites' Courtyard and Apartments (Gozdeler Dairesi) are the next stop. To find the swimming pool, walk to the courtyard's edge. Finally, the Valide Sultan's Courtyard and the Golden Road (Altinyol) round out the final two highlights. The Sultan used to pass through this tiny corridor to reach the Harem. The Sultan is said to have thrown gold money for the concubines on the floor.
Topkapi Palace Sultan Room
One of the most magnificent rooms in the palace was the Valide Sultan Room. The Sultan's mother was the second most powerful person in the court and she had much power over him. Moreover, a Valide Sultan administered the state when the Sultan and his right-hand man, the Grand Vizier, were at war. As a result, she occupied a crucial position in the state's power balance.
During periods in Ottoman history when child kings ascended to the throne, the Valide Sultans' importance grew. Like Sultan Suleiman's wife Hurrem Sultan, strong women could also make more decisions in governance.
Topkapi Palace Museum Tickets
Topkapi Palace Museum requires a 320 Turkish Lira admission fee per person. At the cost of 100 Turkish Lira, each person is required to visit the Harem. Children under the age of 6 are admitted free. Istanbul E-pass entitles visitors to free admission.
The Final Word
For centuries, members of the Ottoman Dynasty and upper-class women of the Harem lived in the Harem apartment, where the Sultans lived with their families in privacy. It served as a school as well, with its own set of rules and hierarchy. The Imperial Harem of Topkapi Palace is significant for its architecture and representation of styles from the 16th to 19th centuries.