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Dolmabahce Palace

From The Marmara Suadiye
36 Min

Dolmabahçe Palace, Turkey's largest palace, blends Neoclassical splendor with Ottoman art. Situated on the shores of Istanbul's Bosphorus strait, it served as the hub of Ottoman politics and the imperial lifestyle from its construction in 1956 until the decline of the Ottoman Empire in 1922.

Dolmabahce Palace was commissioned by Abdulmecid I, the 31st sultan of the Ottoman Empire, to rival the opulence and elegance of contemporary European palaces. The imperial court had been residing in Topkapı Palace for four centuries, which lacked modern amenities. The name of the palace derives from the Turkish words 'dolma,' meaning 'filled,' and 'bahce,' meaning 'garden,' as the palace was constructed on the site of an imperial garden that dated back to the era of Ahmet I. 

Unlike Topkapi Palace, which integrated the surrounding natural terrain and consisted of a collection of structures and pavilions, Dolmabahce Palace was designed as a single block of building, with its primary entrance facing away from the Bosphorus. The palace is a marvel of grandeur and luxury, featuring a total of 285 rooms, 44 halls, Turkish baths, and lavatories. It incorporates elements of Rococo, Neoclassical, and Baroque styles, fused with traditional Ottoman influences. 


History of Dolmabahçe Palace 

The construction of Dolmabahce Palace came with a staggering price tag of 1.9 billion USD in present-day value, which ultimately led to the financial downfall of the Ottoman Empire. The palace marked a turning point in the empire's history, as it contributed significantly to its eventual bankruptcy. In many respects, it served as the precursor to the empire's decline. 

Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the newly formed Turkish republic utilized Dolmabahce Palace as its base in Istanbul. Atatürk, the pioneering figure of modern Turkey, spent his summers at the palace and received foreign guests there, eventually passing away on the premises in 1938.  

Inside Dolmabahce Palace 

Upon entering through the magnificent front gate, famously referred to as the Gate of the Sultan, you will be greeted by the beautifully landscaped gardens and the palace complex. The interior of the palace comprises of the Selamlik, which is exclusively reserved for men, the Harem, and the Veliaht Dairesi, housing the Crown Prince's apartments. 

The Selamlik section of the palace contains intricately adorned reception rooms and offices utilized by the Ottoman officials and administrators of the palace. Within this space, there are smaller, private lounges and currently used exhibition halls adorned with Ottoman artwork and articles from the palace's collection. 

The Harem, on the other hand, was where the sultan's personal chambers were situated, and also where the sultan's numerous concubines resided. Presently, the Harem is ornamented to resemble the era when it was inhabited. Atatürk's chamber at the palace was situated within the Harem, with the clock in his room permanently set at 9:05 am, the exact time of his demise. 

The Veliaht Dairesi is located separately from the other sections of the palace and presently serves as the National Palaces Painting Museum. It houses a collection of roughly 200 Turkish and international artworks dating back to the 1800s. 

How to Visit 

Dolmabahce Palace, an opulent architectural masterpiece, is a highly significant historical landmark in Istanbul and serves as a vivid reminder of the downfall of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of the Republic of Turkey. 

The palace is accessible to visitors from Tuesday through Sunday, between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. Standard tickets for foreign nationals are priced at 450 TL, approximately 23 USD. Tickets can be bought on-site or via the official website. 

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