The Dolmabahce Palace, located next to the clear waters of the Bosphorus, is a living testament to Turkey’s 19th-century westernisation. Turkey’s largest mono-block palace and Istanbul’s first European-style palace, Dolmabahce has a total of 285 rooms, 44 halls, 68 washrooms, and 6 Turkish Baths. This 19th-century palace combines Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical styles with classic Ottoman elements. Its land was originally a bay that was reclaimed and transformed into a grand palace. The two-wing arrangement is adorned extensively with gold and crystal and houses the world’s largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers. The seat of the last six Ottoman Sultans and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk currently has on display a valuable collection of oil paintings. The Dolmabahce Palace was converted into a museum from the palace in 1952 and is open for tourists now. The palace museum is an exquisite testimony of the wealth and might of the Ottomans and is a must-visit if you are in Istanbul.
Must Know: Dolmabahce Palace Facts
The Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul, commissioned by Sultan Abdulmecid, was completed by a team of European Ottoman architects. The building plan was traditional, but European styles extensively inspired the exterior and interior decorations. The new palace had a predetermined design layout and incorporated contemporary European styles, like Rococo, Baroque, and Neo-classical.
The main structure has three functional components, the administrative Mabeyn-i-Humayun, the private Harem-i-Humayun, and the ceremonial Muayede Hall. Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul has 285 rooms, 44 halls, 68 washrooms, and 6 Turkish Baths, and is Turkey’s largest monolithic palace.
Also Read: Dolmabahce Palace Architecture
The “dolma-bahce” or “filled-in garden” on the banks of Bosphorus was a favourite of the Ottomans. The old Topkapi Palace lacked the splendour of modernity, and as Ottoman-European interactions increased, new styles were appreciated. The need for a new palace culminated in the construction of the Dolmabahce Palace. The last six Ottoman Sultans and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk lived in the Palace and took his last breath here as well. Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul has seen revolutionary political developments in modern Turkey and was conferred a museum-palace status and opened to tourists in 1984.
Suggested Read: Dolmabahce Palace History
Situated amidst a well-preserved vast green area, Dolmabahce Palace gardens are flanked by the sea and land. The gardens showcase European features and are geometrically arranged, with ponds, lanterns, vases, and sculptures adorning the green spaces.
The gardens have four major sections, which are classified and positioned according to the functions of the structures around them. The sections are Hasbahce which is the largest section, Kusluk Bahcesi or the Bird Garden, Harem Garden which resembles a courtyard, and the Crown Garden.
As you walk in from the Medhal, another enchanting example of Dolmabahce Palace architecture awaits at the Tiled Room, also known as Clerk’s Hall. The room is adorned with French-style furniture, and priceless porcelain vases line the chamber.
The walls feature stunning artworks from the Dolmabahce Palace Collection, including the collection’s largest painting, the Surre Procession by Stefano Ussi. Other prominent paintings here include a painting of the fire at Paris Municipal Theatre signed by Rudolf Ernst and one of a Dutch village girl by Delandre.
Also Visit: Dolmabahce Palace Gates
The Medhal Hall, or the Main Entrance Hall, is the entrance to Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul. Two sets of rooms lead off towards the sea and land. The sea-facing rooms belonged to top Ottoman officials, while the land-facing rooms were of the palace administrators, Meclis-i-Mebusan and Meclis-i-Ayan members.
The Medhal has boulle tables on both ends and a fireplace bearing Sultan Abdulmecid’s monogram. A stunning English chandelier lights up the room with its sixty arms, while Hereke furniture upholstery and royal red draperies adorn this guest waiting room.
You Should Also Visit: Dolmabahce Palace Sufera Hall
The founding father and first President of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, spent several years surrounded by the magnificence of Dolmabahce Palace. As his health deteriorated, he lived his final days in the Palace and died in 1938.
Ataturk’s Room is the room where he spent his time at the Palace and has been preserved in the same fashion as it had been when he lived here. The clock in this room still points to 9:05, the time of the leader’s death.
The Harem was an important part of Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul, much like other palaces of the empire. The Dolmabahce Harem included separate quarters for the royal family, chambers for the Sultan’s concubines, rooms intended to educate and house the Sultan’s children, and the Sultan’s private living quarters.
There were also spaces where the royal family indulged in leisure and entertainment activities. The Dolmabahce Palace Harem is a magnificent glimpse into the private lives of the Ottoman royal family and houses priceless treasures from the Ottoman era.
Also Visit: Dolmabahce Palace Red Room
Location: Dolmabahce Palace, Visnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahce Cd, 34357 Besiktas/Istanbul
Opening hours: 9 AM to 6 PM on all days except Mondays.
· Regular tickets – TL 120
· Ticket for Harem section – TL 90
· Combined tickets for Palace, Harem, and Clock Museum – TL 200
Best time to visit: It is recommended you visit the Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul during the early morning hours. The crowds are less, so you would be able to explore and enjoy the guided tours better without much disturbance. You will also get more time to explore the place in detail.
Checkout: Dolmabahce Palace Plan Your Visit
It is recommended you visit the Palace during the early morning hours. The crowds are less and you would be able to experience the guided tours better.Unguided tours of certain sections in the Palace are not permitted. It is advised you wait for your guide and the group and explore the Palace together.Try and garner information about the Ottoman Empire in advance. This would help you understand and explore better and get the most out of your guided tour.It is advised that you wear comfortable shoes as the place requires you to walk around for a long time.
Must Checkout: Insider Tips For Visiting Dolmabahce Palace
What is the ticket price for Dolmabahce Palace?
Regular tickets at Dolmabahce Palace are priced at TL 120, while tickets for the Harem section cost TL 90. A combined ticket includes the Palace, the Harem, and the Clock Museum, and costs TL 200.
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Will I need a guide at Dolmabahce Palace?
Admission to Dolmabahce Palace is possible only with guided tours. You can choose from audio guides or in-person guides, either of which is included in your ticket price. Guided tours of the Dolmabahce Palace last for 60 to 90 minutes and are conducted in groups of 30 to 35 visitors.
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How much time should I plan for visiting Dolmabahce Palace?
Visitors need approximately two to three hours to explore all spaces in the Dolmabahce Palace in detail.
When was Dolmabahce Palace built?
Construction of the Dolmabahce Palace began in 1843. It was completed by 1856 when the Ottoman Sultan moved out from the Topkapi Palace and permanently shifted the residential and administrative base of the empire to Dolmabahce Palace.
Is Dolmabahce Palace worth seeing?
Yes it is worth seeing the Dolmabahce Palace, which is a stunning example of European influence on Ottoman art and culture. One can witness the world’s largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers and a valuable collection of oil paintings in this palace adorned with crystals and gold. The Dolmabahce Palace is an exquisite testimony of the wealth and might of the Ottomans and is a must-visit if you are in Istanbul.
Checkout: Topkapi Palace Audio Guide Tour