• Images of our Topkapi Palace walk in Istanbul

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  • chimneys atop Topkapi Palace
  • Images of our Topkapi Palace walk in Istanbul

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  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace
  • Images from our tour of Topkapi Palace

Walk Description

The Topkapi Palace is the sprawling imperial palace of the Ottoman dynasty, a palimpsest of history and architecture. Poised on the cliffs in the center of the city, it is strategically positioned to overlook the entrance to the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. This three-hour walking seminar takes participants into the palace with a historian to explore the internal workings of the Ottoman court and the political intrigues and architectural accomplishments at the heart of this 400-year empire.

Our walk begins with the maps in the courtyard where we'll provide an overview of the complex and the Ottoman Empire in general. We'll trace the Ottomans from their origins outside of Istanbul, to their conquering of the city in the 15th century, to their eventual rule of an Empire that rivalled Rome's. Geographically, this Empire stretched from Yemen to Croatia, and as far east as Iran. We then go into the palace and discuss court life and the power of the sultans, visiting such key structures as the harem and receiving rooms. 

On any given day our focus may tend toward the architecture and symbolism of the complex, toward the political history of the Ottomans, or toward daily life in the court, owing to the area of expertise of our docent and the interests of the group. Regardless of our course—and, often, we pursue many—the Palace itself will provide the textbook and background for this fascinating exploration of Ottoman history. 

For more help in planning your trip, see our guide on how to visit Topkapi Palace.


Duration: 3 hours
Category: History
Venues: Topkapi Palace
Incidentals: tickets to the Topkapi Palace and Harem- TRY45.00

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    Claire Karaz

    Claire has dual degrees in English (University of Michigan) and medieval art history (Università di Roma "La Sapienza"). She lived in Rome for a decade where she taught art history at Trinity College and study abroad programs for other American universities. She has lived in Istanbul for the last twelve years. She is presently an adjunct instructor at Yeditepe University and a freelance translator. Originally from Washington, DC, Claire is very interested in social history. She is the author of Topkapı Palace: Inside and Out, published by Citlembik in 2004.

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    ceylan zere

    Ceylan was born and raised in Istanbul and has spent much of her life wandering through its maze of busy streets and alleyways. With a background in engineering, she possesses a good knowledge of the city's built environment. She has spent many years in the United States, and although she continues traveling, her deep love is for Istanbul, its traditions, lives, characters, and the stories of the two great Empires that made the city their capital over the last two thousand years. A licensed guide for Turkey, Ceylan spends much of the year leading expeditions to archeological sites along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey. She is the co-author of "Turkey Guide: Confluence of Civilizations," written for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

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    Zeynep Cetrez

    Zeynep Cetrez studied the diverse populations of Ottoman Turkey and has a special interest in the 19th century travel accounts and urban history. She has a history master's degree from Sabanci University (Istanbul) and art history master's degree from Rice University (Houston).

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    Ebru Gokteke

    Ebru has a background in journalism and was a writer for many years for a variety of Turkish magazines, including Gezi National Geographic Traveler. She has also served as an arts editor at a local publication. A native of Istanbul and a licensed guide, she has a broad range of knowledge, and is extremely interested in art and aesthetics, as well as translating the details of the Istanbul street experience for visitors. Ebru is currently attending an MA program in the history of religions at the School of Theology and working on her thesis on temple liturgy.

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    Melike Yazicioglu Taspinar

    Melike holds degrees in Tourism and Guiding from Marmara University and Art History from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul. Studying (MA) Museology in Mimar Sinan Fine Arts Universiy. Her special interests are Late Antiquity period in Istanbul and Clasiccal Period of Ottoman Empire.

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    Inci Turkoglu

    Inci was born in ancient Philadelphia (Alasehir), grew up in ancient Smyrna (Izmir) and now live in ancient Constantinople (Istanbul)! As an art historian she focussed on architecture - Byzantine, Turkish, Jewish – and finally on Istanbul with her phd dissertation on ancient Chalcedon. She is currently making her master's thesis on synagogue architecture and her phd dissertation on Chalcedon into books.

  • Equinox Silent Guide One

    Our partner Equinox Travel provides silent licensed guides for a number of our Istanbul walks.