The Dolmabahçe Palace located at the European side of the Bosporus. It served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1853 to 1922, apart from a twenty-year interval (1889-1909) in which the Yildiz Palace was used.
The palace is composed of three parts; the Mabeyn-i Hümâyûn (or Selamlik, the quarters reserved for the men), Muayede Salonu (the ceremonial halls) and the Harem-i Hümayun (the Harem, the apartments of the family of the Sultan). The palace has an area of 45,000 m2 (11.2 acres), and contains 285 rooms, 44 halls, 6 baths (hamam) and 68 toilets.
Dohlmabahce Palace was built in the 1850s and succeeded Topkapi Palace complex as the official home of the Ottoman Sultans and their families. The palace is large and lavish, and definitely worth touring. There are two tours of the palace that you can take. The best and longest one is the tour of the state rooms, which takes you through the large and ornate rooms where the Sultan entertained his guests. The second tour available is of the harem, which is the rooms where the Sultan's family, his concubines, and their servants lived. While still attractive, the harem's rooms are not as spectacular as the state rooms. You can, however, buy a ticket for both tours, and do the two tours back-to-back. You can only tour the palace as part of one of the two tours. Self-guided tours are not available.
When entering the Palace, you first encounter beautiful French styled Gardens. There a lovely fountains, and statues as well as the 30mtr high Clock tower which was built in the 1890's.
The Palace's name actually means Dolma (Stuffed).... Because its on reclaimed land ....... and Bahce (Gardens) = Dolmabahce
The palace was originally a bay, it was filled to become an imperial garden later. The Ottoman sultans liked their gardens. On my wander around, I came across an Aviary and quite a few Roosters and Hens, Ducks and Guinea Fowl roaming around.
The ceremonial and harem quarters of the main palace have separate back gardens protected by tall walls, the former garden has a glass kiosk and bird houses built by Mehmed IV along the landwall while the latter contains the inner treasury, a plant nursery. The Palace of the Crown Prince has a large back garden that has two wooden houses known as the departure kiosks, the quarters of the Chief Eunuch, a Hereke carpet workshop and a sunhouse.
Two monumental gates, the Treasury Gate and the Imperial Gate lead into the gardens of the administrative quarters to the west while seven small portals along the landwalls open into the back gardens of the different sections. Have a look at these! The iron fence along the shore has five large gates for arrivals from the water.
Also in the grounds is the Cafe where you can enjoy the setting under Umbrellas in the garden. I did this, as I needed a rest. The Roses were in bloom while I was visiting and it was very pretty.
Gorgeous, well maintained gardens!
IF YOU WANT TO SEE A PALACE FULL OF OPULENCE, THEN COME HERE!
The people in my Tour group were in awe of this beautiful Palace, I think we all walked around with mouths and eyes open wide!
Until the 17th century this area where Dolmabahce Palace stands today was a natural harbour providing anchorage for the Ottoman fleet and for traditional naval ceremonies.
From the 17th century the bay was gradually filled in and became one of the imperial parks on the Bosphourus known as Dolmabahce, meaning “FILLED GARDEN"
A series of imperial Mansions and Pavillions were built here, eventually growing into a palace complex known as Besiktas Waterfront Palace. This Palace was demolished in 1843, and Dolmabahce Palace was built in its place.
The new Palace was built by an American Architect so that it resembled a European style. It was completed in 1856. LUXURIOUS it is, has 46 reception rooms & galleries, an extreme amount of gold and crystal, (even a crystal staircase) and a 41/2 ton chandelier, just to name a few of the extravagances.
It was this extravagance that helped end the empire with the last Emporer fleeing to exile in 1922.
The main features are its gates, Waterfront facade, Ceremonial Hall, Harem, State Rooms, Ataturk rooms, Crystal staircase, Sultan's bathrooms, Clock Tower and Gardens.
It is just beautiful, and probably my favorite destination in Istanbul.
As from June 1st, 2009 entry has changed...............
YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED CAMERA'S OR VIDEO CAMERAS INSIDE THE PALACE - NO PHOTOGRAPHY OF ANY KIND INSIDE. (There are guards and cameras everywhere watching you!)
You are ALLOWED photography in the Palace grounds
LOCATION.... On Dolmabahce Caddesi. The Tram takes you to Kabatas (tram terminal) then its on a 5min walk to the Palace
ADMISSION IN 2009 was 20t/l
OPENING HOURS 9 - 4pm daily CLOSED .......Mondays & Thursdays
TOURS....You can only visit inside the Palace with a tour, and these depart regularly every 15mins. They have English & other nationality tours. My guide was very good and informative.
Other parts of the Palace you can visit without a guide.
ESTIMATED TIME HERE....Probably about 21/2 - 3 hours.
Completed in 1855, this small mosque was named after the neighbouring Dolmabahçe Palace. It was built to serve the Sultan who resided in the palace. The Armenian architect, Karabet Balyan, designed the structure in a highly ornate Ottoman-Baroque style.
One of the most opulent palaces in Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Sarayı was built on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait in 1856 as the new imperial residence. During the time of the Empire's decline, Sultan Abdülmecit commissioned two architects from the Armenian Balyan family to design the extravagant palace and financed it with expensive loans from Europe. No wonder the Ottoman Empire did not survive much longer. This did leave us, however, with a splendid palace to admire today. Dolmabahçe Palace and its gardens are open to visitors as a museum and are definitely worth a tour.
In 1839, Sultan Abdulmecid built Dolmabahce Palace. In contrast to the traditional Eastern style of Topkapi Palace, the newer one exhibits strong Western elements. It would seem more at home in Venice, Florence, or Paris than in Istanbul.
Garabet and Nikogos Balyan designed this palace and its huge gates. They spared no expense, creating something resembling to a Turkish Versailles. The palace contains 285 rooms, 43 halls, six terraces, and six Turkish baths. It is so elaborate that even the Sultan thought it was a bit much. By this time, the Ottoman Empire was facing a revenue shortfall, and times were getting tougher.
The Ceremonial Hall occupies the center, with the Mabeyn-i Humayun and Harem-i Humayun on either side. The former served as the administrative seat of the Empire, and only men were allowed in. Its most striking feature is the Crystal Staircase. The Harem was the private residence of the Sultan and his family.
In 1924, Ataturk established the modern Turkish Republic. He died here in 1938. The old palaces became state property, and are now museums.
On my 4th visit to the city, I finally went round the palace.
15 ytl to get in (August 08) plus 6 ytl to use your camera. That is just for the Semalık tour (the state rooms and the ceremonial hall). You pay extra for a tour of the Harem, or to see the clock collection and the crystal staircase. A tour is compulsory for the Harem and the Semalık - in other words you can't just wander round in your own time. It's closed on Thursday.
Go early especially in summer - it's cooler and quieter.
The lavishness is impressive, especially when you remember the Empire was almost bankrupt by the time it was built. My favourite was the ceremonial hall - still used to receive foreign leaders on state occasions.
Well worth 2-3 hours to visit.
The beautiful Dolmabahçe Palace is located at the European side of the Bosporus and it served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1853 to 1922, apart from a twenty-year interval (1889-1909) in which the Yýldýz Palace was used.
Dolmabahçe was built between 1843 and 1856 by Armenian architect Garabet Balyan and commissioned by Sultan Abdülmecid I, the 31st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The palace design and décor reflects the increasing influence of European cultural standards on Ottoman culture. Neo-Classic, Baroque, Rococo and Ottoman styles all blend together into glittering opulence and grandeur. The 45,000 square metre palace cost a mere five million Ottoman gold pounds, the equivalent of 35 tonnes of gold— 14 tonnes of which went into the decoration alone.
Previously, the Sultan and his family lived at Topkapý Sarayý, but as Topkapý was lacking in contemporary luxury and style, Abdülmecid decided to build Dolmabahçe. Topkapý has exquisite examples of Iznik tiles and Ottoman carving, compared to Dolmabahçe, which has lots of gold and crystal.
The only way to see the inside of Dolmabahçe is with a guided tour, but be sure that you get there early as they only allow a certain amount of visitors per day. The tour last approx 1 hour and if you want to see the harem as well, you have to pay for that too and that is also done per guided tour which also last approx 1 hour.
I love really ornate palaces and Dolmabahce (which means filled-in garden) did not disappoint! Sultan Abdul Mecit had the palace built in 1853. With an unlimited budget, architect Balian set out to create a palace greater than any other palace in the world. The result is a mix of architectural styles: Hindu, Turksih, and European. Inside are mirrors, marble, chandeliers, crystal, and silk. At over 45,000 square meters huge, the palace has 285 rooms, 46 lounges and 68 toilets It is beautifully situated on the European shore (1/2 km in length) of the Bosphorus.
Dolmabahce was built during the decline of the Ottoman Empire, financed largely by foreign loans. After the Turkish Republic was established in 1923, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk kept a room at the palace for use during his visits to Istanbul. He would later die in the palace on November 10, 1938 at 9:05 a.m. and all of the clocks in the palace are stopped at this time.
You have to visit the palace on a guided tour which is definitely a negative. The tour runs about an hour and fifteen minutes. Even though you only see a small portion of the palace, there is so much to see that you feel really rushed through.
The Imperial Gate is now the main entrance to the palace. Once through the gate you'll come to the Imperial Garden with the Swan Fountain and have your first view of the palace. The almost plainish exterior belies the opulence inside. Of course, when viewed from out on the Bosphorus, you can really appreciate the size of the palace.
The tour passes through just over 20 rooms including the Entrance Hall, Secreteriat's Rooms, Mescid & Resting Room, Ambassador's Hall, Rooms of the Crown Prince, Study Room, Passageway to the Harem, and Sultan's Room in the Harem. But the highlights are definitely the Crystal Staircase and the Ceremonial Hall (Muayede Hall).
The horseshoe-shaped Crystal Staircase leads from the entry gate to the upper levels of the palace. It is so named because it is made from Baccarat crystal and brass. The rail is a highly polished, rich mohogany . Overhead is one of the amazing Baccarat chandeliers.
The Ceremonial Hall was designed to hold 2,500 people. It sits between the Administrative Mabeyan and the Harem areas and I thought it was the most spectacular room we saw. It is 2000 square meters in size and 36 meters high. The magnificent dome is 25 meters in diameter. A chandelier that is reported to be the heaviest in the world - 4.5 tons with 664 bulbs - hangs from the dome. The hall was used to host all state ceremonies and receptions, and religious celebrations. When he died, Ataturk's body was placed in a casket in the hall and for 3 days, the public came to express their condolences.
After the tour you can spend time walking the gardens around the palace. Allow about 2 1/2 - 3 hours total for your visit.
Admission with guided tour is 15 TL
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday - Sunday 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (last tour at 4:00 p.m.)
October - February last tour is at 3:00 p.m.
The palace is closed on Mondays and Thursdays
Tours in various langauages
Photography was permitted at the time of our visit. However, now no photography allowed inside the palace.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first president of Turkey, spent his last days in the palace as his health deteriorated.
Ataturk had the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, formerly a main residence of the sultans, refurbished and spent more time there in his later years.
Always a heavy drinker who ate little, he began to decline in health. His illness, cirrhosis of the liver, was not diagnosed until too late. On November 10th, 1938, he died at 9:05 am in Dolmabahce. His state funeral was an occasion for enormous outpourings of grief from the Turkish people. His body was transported through Istanbul and from there to Ankara.
His bedroom is now part of the museum.
All the clocks in the palace were set to that time at 9:05 a.m. However, this has changed recently and clocks are set on different times around the palace. The clock in the room is still pointing to 9:05 a.m.
Every inch of Dolmabahce is extravagant. The abundant tiled FIREPLACES are Czech in origin, many surmounted with very expensive crystal or large mirrors (images 1,2 ) expressly designed for the view of foreign potentates.
The FLOORS are in particular worthy of note. Most are covered with silk or wool Hereke carpets, but all are parquet. Three woods are used throughout - rosewood, mahogany, and ebony - all inlaid by hand without nails. The intricate designs are different in each room. Image 3 is from the Privy Chamber.
Throughout, each room contains amazing furniture. Apart from chairs and tables, the walls of some rooms are lined with assorted pieces included Sevre vases.
Many of the images selected for Travelogue 3 will be illustrative of decor.
The group tours move quickly through hallways lined with oils allegedly by relatively renowned painters of the 19th C, many from Russia. Along the way, small lavishly decorated rooms are also passed with little audible commentary as the group is strung out along the hallway. Unobstrusive signs identify a few. Some of these rooms are exquisitely dressed with luxurious furniture, glorious carpets, and crystal chandeliers and worth passing attention.
IMAGE 1 - the Study Room
IMAGE 2 - the Harem Entrance Room -
IMAGE 3 - the Abdulmecid II Library - sultans from the time of Mehmet the Conquerer were avid collectors of manuscripts and books.
IMAGE 4 - the Head Maid's Room
IMAGE 5 - the Sultan's Harem Room
The Dolmabahce Palace was the nominal central palace for only 6 sultans, of whom three spent most of their time living in other palaces like the Beyleberi and Yildiz. So, after the treasury at the Topkapi, this collection seems relatively small and without any "star attractions". Most of the finest pieces have been removed either to museums or the Topkapi display. On tour, one files quickly and without explanation by the guide through a small room which was used as a pantry and storage room with the objects of art in glass cases without identification.
The highlight are the porcelain banquet sets and bowls with lace design bearing the initials of Sultan Abdulhamid II.
The Dolmabahce Palace has the world's largest collection of Bavarian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers, seemingly massive examples in most major rooms. But the crystal highlight is the double horseshoe crystal staircase staircase connecting the administrative rooms on the lower level with the ceremonial halls on the upper. The balustrade is made of mahogany and brass with the balusters of Baccarat crystal. Light comes from an immense chandelier in the center as well as several smaller chandeliers on the arcade overlooking the staircase with the highly decorated ceiling supported by massive marble columns ( images 4,5 ).
TRAVELOGUES - The fast moving tour with often inaudible commentary leaves one to take images of rooms, halls, chandeliers, ornate fireplaces with crystal backdrops, and furniture without often knowing their names and provenance. Please visit the several travelogues to see images of the exterior and interior of the palace, containing some striking material.