Istanbul, secret path in Topkapı Palace

‘Secret path’ of sultans in Topkapı reopens to tourists

This escape route was used by Ottoman sultans to secretly leave the palace and walk among the inhabitants of Istanbul.

The so-called “Horse Ramp” (At Rampası) or “Great Ride” (Büyük Biniş), a secret path used by Ottoman sultans who lived in the famous Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, one of the most visited monuments in Turkey, has been reopened for tourist visits.

According to historians, the Ottoman sultans used this route to leave the palace in disguise without being recognised or seen; since sometimes they did it on horseback, that is why this steep path, in addition to “Horse Ramp”, was also called the “Great Ride”.

Before the sultan left the palace walls by this route, first his guards went out to inspect the surroundings to make sure there was no danger, and then the sultan escaped through this place to mix with the rest of the inhabitants of Istanbul.

All sultans loved to go out (of the palace) and mingle with the mob. These exits were like inspections of the people. The inhabitants of Istanbul were not supposed to know that the sultan had left the palace; so secretly, the sultans used this path to enter the city,” explains Turkish historian Necdet Sakaoğlu.

Normally the Ottoman sultans left the safety of the Topkapı Palace via this “secret path” disguised as dervishes, or as merchants, according to historians. “There are many entrances to the palace, but this one cannot be seen from outside. It is a hidden, secret entrance,” said Sakaoğlu, describing it as “the longest and straightest path in the palace.” Since September 18, this interesting place can now be visited by tourists.