It extends along the western wing of the palace, starting from Kubbealti in the Second Courtyard continues till the back of the Chamber of Hırka-i Saadet in the Third Courtyard. It is a complex settlement of hundreds of rooms with one or two floors around small courtyards. Harem was a place where no one other could enter other than Ottoman dynasty and its staff. It consists of approximately 400 rooms, 9 baths, 2 mosques, a hospital, a laundry room, swimming pools and dormitories
First section entered from the Gate of Carts (Arabalar Kapısı) was allocated to Black Eunuchs originated from Africa who were guarding the gates of Harem. After passing this section, main gate of the Harem (Cümle Kapısı) which is connected to three main sections is reached. The door to the left opens to Concubines Courtyard; the door to the middle opens to Courtyard of the Queen Mother; and, “the door to the left opens to the Golden Road and Interval (Mabeyn) Courtyard (Flats of the Sultan and Princes).
Concubines providing all the internal services from almost every race lived in the Concubines section. Concubines were taken to the palace at ages from 10 to 16, their numbers changed from 250 to 1000 according to the era, and they were thought Turkish, reading-writing, religion rules, literature, music and handicrafts. The majority of them were assigned to laundry, pantry and dining works. Some examples of spouses of sultans who were once concubines are Roxelane (Russian), Safiye Sultan (Venetian), Kösem Sultan (Rum or Bosniaks) and Hatice Turhan Sultan (Russian).
Apartment of the Queen Mother located in the Courtyard of the Queen Mother is the biggest and most important place after the places belonging to sultans. The Queen Mother, mother of the sultan, had a respectable place in Harem. Most senior staff of Harem would take command from her. The mother of the deceased, or sultans without a throne moved their place to new Queen Mother and moved to the Old Palace.
Mabeyn Section where sultan and princes lived and reached by the Golden Road has an open side different than the other courtyards.
In Harem, there are structures reflecting the classical Ottoman delight with architectural features and decorative styles. In the Imperial Hall (Hünkâr Sofrası), the largest venue of the Harem, meetings,”Bairam greetings, ceremonies, various entertainments and ceremonies were performed. The Privy Chamber of Murat III, Double Bath, Privy Chamber of Ahmed I, Privy Chamber of Ahmed III also known as theFruit Room for the flower and fruit baskets on the wall, Twin Kiosk are the circles forming the life in Harem.