Imperial Harem

Harem-i Hümâyûn

Today you have a unique opportunity to see what was concealed from the eyes of the public during the Ottoman Empire – the Imperial Harem of the Topkapi Palace. The Harem consists of nearly 300 rooms interconnected by numerous passages, 9 baths, 2 mosques, a hospital and even a laundry. To start the visit you should buy a separate ticket and the guide will accompany you to the holy of the holies. Originally the harem was built outside the walls of the palace complex, but Roxelana managed to move it inside the palace.

Every aspect of live in the harem was subject to strict traditions, rules and ceremonies. It was usual that women captured during wars or attacks happened to find themselves in that harem. They were forced to turn into Islam and change their original name. When turned into concubine the woman was educated in accordance to the Islamic traditions, she was taught Turkish and how to dress, how to behave, also they were given music, reading, writing and dancing lessons. Islamic laws allowed the sultan to have four wives (Kadın). If the concubine was fortunate enough to give birth to the sultan’s son, a possible heir to the throne, she had a great chance to become the favorite wife of the sultan. But only one woman in the harem possessed the undisputed power, this was Valide Sultan (Queen Mother). Her influence on the sultan and the matters of the Empire in many cases were limitless.

Address: Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi, Sultanahmet, Fatih
Opening hours: еntrance allowed only with an excursion, the timetable can be seen next to the Gate of Carts of the Second Courtyard.
How to reach: Gülhane (TR1)
Coordinates: 41.012786, 28.98314