Dolmabahce, Istanbul: A Palace of Superlatives

Known as one of the world’s most glamorous and opulent palaces, Dolmabahce on the European side of the Bosporus in Istanbul, attracts thousands of visitors each year. You should experience the overwhelming architecture and decorations of this Istanbul attraction for yourself.

Dolmabahce Palace

Photo from wikipedia, author: SBarnes

Dolmabahce is Turkey’s largest palace, built by Sultan Adbülmecid I between 1843 and 1856. The mono block building covers 45.000 square meters and features 285 rooms and 68 toilets. The cost was the equivalent of 35 tons (!) of gold and 14 tons in the form of gold leaf were uses to gild the ceilings. In addition, the palace entrance hall is illuminated by  the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, which was a gift from Queen Victoria and a sweeping staircase with banisters made from Baccarat crystal.

Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles are combined with Turkish ottoman features to create a unique building. Surrounded by gardens, the palace overlooks the Bosporus on a site which originally served as public gardens, a fact from which the name Dolmabahce (full garden in Turkish) is derived.

Clock Tower adjacent to Dolmabahce Palace

The palace was the administrative center of the last Ottoman sultans and became the presidential summer residence of Atatürk, who died here on 10th November 1938 at 9.05 am. All clocks in the palace remain stopped at the time of Ataürk’s passing.

Whereas you can stroll around other museums and monuments at your leisure in Istanbul Dolmabahce palace can only be viewed with a guided tour.  And you are not allowed to take photographs of the interior.

Sultan's Gate

The tour leads around the most important sections of the palace and you can admire works of art as well as marvelous palace carpets. You can walk around freely in the gardens and to the separate clock tower.

I like to visit by taking the tramway from Sultanahmed to the last stop, Kabatas and then walk along Ciraghan Caddesi , gazing at  the waterfront and admiring  many old mansions which line the street. The walk takes about 30 minutes. Calculate 1 to 2 hours for  the visit to Dolmabahce with the guided tours starting every 20 to 30 minutes.

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