The Topkapi Sarayi, the Palace of the Cannon Gate, named after a Byzantine Gate on the side facing the sea, was the seat of the Turkish sultans for centuries. Through the Bab-i-Hiimayun, the Gateway to the Empire, one enters the first of the four spacious courtyards of the sprawling palace precincts.
The Ottomans were only too well aware of how to make good use of Seraglio Point. They settled on the site of the acropolis of ancient Byzantium.
The earliest buildings here date back to the 1460s, in the reign of Mehmet II. The latest was built about 1839, before Sultan Abdul Mecit I made the Dolmabahqe Palace his residence. In its heyday, from the mid-16th to the mid18th centuries, the palace housed about 5000, which meant that it was really a small walled city. An army of domestics dressed in the costumes of their trades served and supplied the palace.