Dolmabahçe Palace was designed to deny the overwhelming evidence of Ottoman military and financial decline in the mid-19th century. But when Sultan Abdül Mecit's architects concocted this dripping-with-wealth, Ottoman-European palace, it did more to precipitate the empire's bankruptcy than to dispel rumours of it. Your eyes will boggle at the feat of excess.
The word "Dolmabahce" in English means "The filled garden". Because the Dolmabahce Palace is founded upon a reclaimed area by filling up the sea. It's a beautiful 19th century palace right by the Bosphorus, on the waterfront. It's in baroque and rococo style and very French. Many people think that it is a small model of the palace of Versailles in Paris, France. It can be visited with a tour guide of the palace as a group. Open everyday from 9:30-17:00 except Monday and Thursday.
When one enters the palace area, the first thing to see is the beautiful French style gardens. After having a lovely walk by the Bosphorus, one reaches the main building. The palace was constructed between 1842-1853 by one of the Ottoman Sultans, Sultan Abdulmecid. The architect was a famous Armenian architect, Nikogos Balyan. The palace reflects the European and more "modern" side of the Ottoman Empire. The Sultans moved to Dolmabahce Palace after its construction was finished and never went back to Topkapi Palace which hosted them nearly 4 centuries.
Before one enters into the main palace building, should wear blue nylons over shoes due to keep The Grand Hall the palace clean. After wearing them, one faces with a huge entrance hall with beautiful French Baccarat crystal chandelliers. The palace altogether is decorated with French Baccarat and Czech Bohemian crystal chandelliers.The entrance hall is the hall where the visitors were used to welcomed. This part is the official part (Selamlik) of the Palace that was only open to the men. The women and the children lived in a different part called "the Harem". The Sultan's bedrooms were also in the Harem Part. The founder of Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk died in this palace in 1938 of sirosis disease. He actually lived in Ankara, Turkey's capital, but he used to come to Istanbul quite often and Dolmabahce Palace was his residence when he visited Istanbul. His room is also in the Harem Part of the Palace. There are many portraits in the palace by famous artists, like Aivazosvky of Russia. It's a very ornate palace with its 285 rooms, 43 large halls and 6 Turkish baths. The large old carpets on the floor are Hereke Carpets which were exclusively woven for the palaces. Some rooms have a great parquet floor with three different woods inlaid into each other by using no nails. Many of the palace fabrics and the curtains were also coming from Hereke, a small town 50 miles,70 kms. to the east of Istanbul. The palace fabrics today were replaced by new ones which are very similar to the original ones.
Hours: Tue-Wed & Fri-Sun 9:00am-3:00pm
Insiders Note :
Don't set your watch by any of the palace clocks, all of them stopped at 09:05, the moment at which Atatürk died in Dolmabahçe on 10 November 1938.