The famous Ottoman historian Evliya Celebi describes the Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi) as “the loveliest sultanate palace that human skill could have created. One can not help doing anything but ruling if living in here! If you can come out of this complex game that is made of terraces, corridors, stairs and interior courts; you find yourself in the world of Arabian Nights again. The palace once Ottoman Sultans lived is visited by thousands of visitors from all parts of the world, is the most splendid monument of Istanbul.
The palace had a concept peculiar to the East, accommodating several qualities in it: The residence of the Sultan and the center of a world empire, the religious center of half of the world and the stage that incredible intrigues displayed, the focus of cruel murders and the cradle of breathtaking successes. Once, 4,000-5,000 people used to live in Topkapi Palace. This was a city in the city. Fatih Sultan Mehmet decided to have a vast palace built to the ridges of old Byzantium Acropolis.
The reason Sultan Mehmet chose this place was not only the beauty of the ridges. He was planning to have a residential fortress built where Istanbul could be protected best. A high city wall, extending from Golden Horn as far as the Sea of Marmara, separating Topkapi Palace from the rest of the city. The Byzantium walls, beginning from the corner of the palace and stretching to Theodosian Walls through the shores of Marmara were protective against a possible sea attack.
The First Court
This front court that is connected to the main entrance with Bab-i Humayun (the Imperial Gate), once the Janissaries used to accommodate, serves as the parking area for the buses and cars bringing thousands of visitors today. On the left are Defterdar Dairesi (the Financial Department) and ig Cephane (the Interior Arsenal, the former Haghia Eirene Church); while the Archaeological Museum and Cinili Kosk (the Tiled Pavilion) that Mehmet U had built are located at the back.