Dolmabahce Palace symbolizes royalty and prosperity and simultaneously signifies the mighty Ottoman Empire’s fall. This majestic grand palace offers a royal elegance that oozes luxury from all quarters. The grand palace was built using rich materials that are quite evident from its luxurious exteriors and interiors, symbolizing the greatness of the Ottoman Empire and its might in the 19th century. This grand palace, commissioned by Sultan Abdul Mecit in 1843, is also the largest mono-block palace in Turkey. We have collated some amazing facts about the Dolmabahce Palace that will make you browse through the magnificent pages of history and explore this place at the earliest.
Reaching the Dolmabahce Palace
The palace can easily be accessed by bus or tram by taking the TB2 line bus or the T1 line tram that goes to Kabatas. From the Kabatas terminal, head 1 km northeast of the station to reach the palace. This palace is also located 5 km from Sultanahmet Square and 1.5 km from Taksim Square if you want to drive down.
The rich cultural heritage of the Dolmabahce Palace
The grand palace in Turkey has a rich history that brings in a story of European wealth rivalry and oriental magnificence. This masterpiece was built on the order of Abdulmecid I, who wanted to show the world the charm and mighty of the Ottoman Empire. We were always fascinated by his European counterparts who lived in equal elegance at their respective European residence. The Armenian Balyan family initiated the construction between 1842 and 1853. Abdul Hamid II relocated his residence to the Yildiz Palace in 1889. Subsequently, in 1920, the palace became the President’s official residence, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, also the founder of the Republic of Turkey. The unique history during its construction made it one of the standout landmarks in the 19th century that continued to woo the tourist world each year. The palace was turned into a museum post his death in 1938. In 2007, this palace became the Prime Minister’s official residence in Turkey.
Architectural facets of the Dolmabahce Palace
As stated earlier, Abdulmecid wanted this palace to be equally charming and elegant as his European counterparts, which is quite evident in the distinguishing features of this royal architecture. Today, the visitors who browse through the Dolmabahce Palace are wooed by the incredible architecture of this masterpiece. So many buildings, a mosque, a library, a clock tower, and a harem are part of the palace complex spread over 110,000 square meters. The Baroque style elements incorporated in the Dolmabahce Palace were unique and odd for the eastern culture that is still evident and the prime reason why it continues to impress the audience even today.
The beautiful Interiors of the Dolmabahce Palace
The palace’s interior decoration is unique compared to the region’s elegant palaces. The elements that were used reflect the rich history that it possesses. Gold-cited ceilings decorate the interiors of this palace to indicate the might of the Ottoman Empire at that time. Queen Victoria gifted the Sultan 5 tons of bohemian glass chandeliers that are visible today. The cost of building this grand and unique palace was equivalent to 5 million pounds of gold. You will find several dotted collections of Aivazovsky’s artwork and paintings, masterpieces dotting the various corners of the palace. All these paintings were created at the special request of the Sultan. The clocks in the palace indicate when President Ataturk died, which is 9:05am. The grandeur of this palace is so special that it still stands among the most gorgeous palaces in the entire region and Europe. Each element in the palace speaks about the opulent lifestyle of the various residents.
The gorgeous exteriors of the Dolmabahce Palace
The palace was built on the small bay of the Bosphorous. This bay eventually transformed into an imperial garden from the start of the 18th century. The name, Dolmabahce itself is derived from two words – dolma means filled, and bahce means garden. Several pavilions and mansions were built as synonymous with the Sultan and Ottoman culture during the 18th and 19th centuries. These collections led to the complex called the Besiktas Waterfront Palace, which was demolished by Sultan Abdul Mecit to reconstruct the Dolmabahce Palace. Each part of the palace was redesigned keeping his taste in mind, and such was the elegance and luxury of this palace that he eventually decided to shift his residence from the Topkapi Palace to the Dolmabahce Palace.
Extravagance and elegance of the Dolmabahce Palace
Even though the palace showcases the opulent and elegant lifestyle nature of the Ottoman Empire, the fact is that this palace was built to cover up the decline of the grand empire. The grandeur and charm of this palace were all set to impress the world, and the only way to do this was by incorporating unique elements and style in its construction. Therefore, the Ottoman tradition of building pavilions was completely restructured into a mono-block European-style palace. The reconstruction was Led by a leading Ottoman architect, Garabet Baylan, and his son, Nigogayos, in 1843 and completed in 1856.
The results were amazing as this two-floor palace dotting an area of 45000 square meters featured 285 rooms, 6 hammams or Turkish baths, 44 halls, and 68 washrooms. A fusion of Baroque, Neo-Classic, Rocco and traditional Ottoman art and culture elements is used in its design, leading to its uniqueness even today. The ceilings are decorated with 14 tons of gold, representing this palace’s lavishing royalty. In addition, the palace also features the largest worldwide collection of Baccarat and Bohemian crystal chandeliers, some gifted by Queen Victoria to the Sultan. Finally, you will be amazed by the price tag of the eventual construction – a staggering 5 million Ottoman gold coins equivalent to 35 tons of gold today.
The Royal residents of the Dolmabahce Palace
The Dolmabahce Palace witnessed six residing sultans from 1856 till 1924, leaving a 20-year gap between 1889 and 1909 where the Yildiz Palace was used. Once the Republic of Turkey was formed, President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk turned this into a presidential house. This period saw major changes like introducing a new alphabet. But unfortunately, he was never in good health after shifting here. He eventually died at 9:05 am on November 10, 1938. To honor his work and presence, all the clocks in the palace indicate the same time. Today, the room where he passed away is part of the palace-guided tours offered to visitors.
Entry fee and visiting hours
The entry fee to witness the Harem and Selamik sections is 300 Lira. You will have to pay additional for exploring the exhibitions and kiosks placed. Children below 6 years do not have an entrance fee. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the palace buildings. There are cafes inside the palace near the museum grounds to grab a quick bite during your discovery journey. The operational timing for purchasing the tickets is 9 am to 4 pm. However, as the entry is limited to 3,000 people only, the entry can be closed earlier.