Istanbul: Topkapı Palace
Lovely fountain on the outside wall of the Pavilion of the Blessed Mantle in the fourth courtyard.
The Topkapı Palace is a sprawling palace complex whose construction started in 1459--only six years after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (now Istanbul). It served as the official and primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856). The palace is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At the height of its existence as a royal residence, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people. Topkapı Palace gradually lost its importance at the end of the 17th century, as the Sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosporus. In 1856, the court was moved to the newly built Dolmabahçe Palace.