Lonely Planet Writer

Renovations underway at Istanbul’s iconic Topkapı Palace

Renovations are underway at Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace after deep fissures were found in the basement and walls of the Treasury room. The discovery of the cracks had caused the partial closure of the palace, one of Istanbul’s  top sights, to tourists.

Istanbul, Turkey.Topkapı Palace. Gate of Salutations.
Istanbul, Turkey.Topkapı Palace. Gate of Salutations. Image by Getty Images

A detailed examination found that the cracks stemmed from ground-based problems. The report also said that the concrete cover used for the building’s dome and ceilings between 1940 and 1960 had put too much weight on the structure, which, combined with seismic activity in the Sea of Marmara, meant that intervention was needed. Authorities declared that the building would not currently survive a 5.0-magnitude earthquake.

Topkapı Palace, Istanbul, Turkey.
Topkapı Palace, Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Getty Images

The archive and depot buildings of the palace are said to suffer from similar problems to the Treasury, so will also be subject to works. The restoration team will analyse soil to work out the cause of ground deformations and then determine how best to strengthen it. The restorations will cost 10 million lira and are set to be complete by the end of 2017.

Topkapı Palace, Istanbul.
Topkapı Palace, Istanbul. Image by Getty Images

The opulent Ottoman Topkapı Palace complex occupies the promontory of İstanbul’s Old City. A series of mad, sad and downright bad sultans lived here with their concubines and courtiers between 1465 and 1830, and extravagant relics of their centuries of folly, intrigue, excess, patronage, diplomacy and war are everywhere you look. The object-laden Treasury is one of the palace’s highlights; others include the huge Harem (private quarters), impressive Imperial Council Chamber, and picturesque Marble Terrace.