In the dwindling years of the Byzantine Empire, many of the once-great Imperial palaces lay in ruins, shattered by centuries of fighting and economic collapse. Following the Ottoman conquest, Mehmet II ignored all previously developed Imperial sites in favor of a strategically secure spot atop First Hill, at the very tip of the peninsula.
Construction on the Sultan's new palace - called the Yeni Sarayi or "New Palace" initially - began in 1459, and would conclude almost ten years later, although every subsequent Sultan would continue to add to the complex. Topkapi would see some of its greatest expansions under the fifty-year reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.
For many centuries thereafter, Topkapi Palace served as the centerpiece of the Sultan's power, and contained everything he needed to comfortably oversee his Empire: the Harem for raising and educating the wives of future royalty, the Divan for his meetings with the Sublime Porte, barracks for the Janissaries, and the Sultan's personal residence.
But the tastes of some Sultans were notoriously fickle, and for a brief period near the end of his reign, Sultan Bayezid II temporarily relocated himself to Edirne in the north, giving our beloved Assassins a bit more leeway to wander the palace grounds without attracting too much attention.