Topkapi Palace

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Istanbul, Turkey; from 1459

Mehmed II began work on the Topkapi Palace soon after he took control of Constantinople in 1453. It was used and enhanced by his successors until 1921, but by then it was no longer really a palace, since in 1856 the Ottoman sultans had moved their court to the Dolmabahçe Palace.

Topkapi takes its name from a gate, Cannon Gate, now vanished. It was built on a prominent headland, protected by defensive sea walls, looking out across water: the Bosphorous to the east and the Golden Horn to the north. This had been the site of the main fortification of the Byzantine emperors, who had moved out of the Great ...

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