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As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments.It is now a museum and as such a major tourist attraction.

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It was originally called the New Palace (Yeni Saray or Saray-ı Cedîd-i Âmire) to distinguish it from the previous residence.

It received the name "Topkapı" (Cannon Gate) in the 19th century, after a (now lost) gate and shore pavilion.

The complex was expanded over the centuries, with major renovations after the 1509 earthquake and the 1665 fire.

After the 17th century, the Topkapı Palace gradually lost its importance as the sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosphorus.

The palace received its current name during Mahmud I's reign when the seaside palace, Topkapusu Sâhil Sarâyı (Cannon Gate Palace by the Sea) was destroyed in a fire, its name was transferred to the Palace.

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