Explore Dolmabahçe Palace – The Beginner’s Travel Guide 2022
The exquisite monument that stands on the European side of Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace, is one of the most stunning symbols of the Ottoman Empire.
After the Topkapi, the Ottomans’ chief operating home was the Dolmabahçe Palace. Built along the Bosphorus Strait, it is another gorgeous imperial structure that serves as a prominent tourist destination. If you are searching for a historical place to visit in Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace should be your choice of preference.
Let us tell you the history, architecture, and interior of Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, Turkey, and the guided tours you must take to view this spectacular palace.
Bear in mind that operating hours may change during the COVID epidemic. During the pandemic, it is better to call prior to the visit.
Contact Details: +90 212 236 90 00
About the Grand Dolmabahçe Palace
The Shift from Tradition to Innovation in The Ottoman Empire
The construction of Dolmabahçe Palace was a step toward the Ottoman Empire’s modernization and renewal that started with the Tanzimat era (the period of reform in the Ottoman Empire History). In this section, you will get to learn,
– The Dolmabahçe Palace History
– The Dolmabahçe Palace Architecture and Interior
– The Dolmabahçe Palace Current Status Quo
The Deep History of Dolmabahçe Palace
The Dolmabahçe Palace’s history started way before the construction of the grand palace. The place where Dolmabahçe Palace stands now used to be a little bay of the Bosphorus. From the 18th century forward, this bay was progressively filled to become an imperial garden by the Bosphorus. People used to call it Dolmabahçe, the “Filled-in Gardens,” as dolma means ‘filled’ and bahçe means ‘garden.’
During the 18th and 19th centuries, many wooden pavilions and mansions were built on the site since the sultans adored it. This collection eventually expanded into the Palace complex named Beşiktaş Waterfront Palace until it was razed on Sultan Abdül Mecit’s orders to make space for the Dolmabahçe Palace.
Sultan Abdül Mecit was the Empire’s 31st Sultan. The Sultan and his family used to reside at the Topkapı Palace. However, Topkapı Palace was not up to the mark with the contemporary European architectural design, style, and comfort. Therefore, the Sultan decided to build a new modern palace filled with luxuries of the 19th century, and hence Dolmabahçe Palace came into being.
The Architecture and the Interior of the Palace
The palace’s construction began on June 13, 1843, and was completed on June 7, 1856. Members of Ottoman court architects designed the project.
The designers mixed eclectic elements from the Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical styles with traditional Ottoman architecture to create a new synthesis. The palace’s mono-block Ottoman-European layout and design show the growing impact of European forms and norms on Ottoman culture and art.
It is a double-storey palace that covers an area of 110 thousand square meters and provides a spectacular view of the Bosphorus. There are 285 apartments, 44 halls, 68 toilets, and 6 Turkish baths at Dolmabahçe Palace.
The Dolmabahçe Palace interior leaves visitors flabbergasted. The gold and crystal decorations on the Dolmabahçe Palace are extensive. Gold leaves weighing 14 tonnes were used to embellish the ceilings. The decoration consists of precious stones such as Egyptian alabaster, Marmara marble, and Pergamian porphyry.
In addition, it houses the world’s most incredible collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers and a collection of 202 oil paintings by famous painters. The grand crystal staircase with a giant crystal chandelier takes tourists’ breath away.
The Current Status of the Palace
From 1856, when it was initially inhabited, to the collapse of the Caliphate in 1924, the palace was home to six Sultans: the last royal to live here was Caliph Abdül Mecid Efendi.
The palace ownership was passed to the nascent Turkish Republic’s national heritage via a statute on March 3, 1924. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Republic of Turkey’s founder and first President, utilized the palace as their presidential home and enacted some of his most important works during the summers. Atatürk died on November 10, 1938, in this palace.
The palace is now managed by the Milli Saraylar Daire Başkanl (Directorate of National Palaces), which reports to Turkey’s Grand National Assembly.
The Guided Tours in Dolmabahçe Palace
An Opportunity to Travel Through Time
You may only enter the palace by joining a guided tour. The palace offers two guided tours: the Selamlik trip takes you into the official quarters. The Harem tour takes you inside the Sultan’s and his family’s privy chambers. In this section, you will learn,
- The Dolmabahçe Palace Guided Tour – Selamlık Tour
- The Dolmabahçe Palace Guided Tour – Harem Tour
- The Dolmabahçe Palace Visiting Hours
- The Dolmabahçe Palace Entrance Fee
The Dolmabahçe Palace, Selamlık Tour – “Mabeyn-i Humayun”
The tour begins with general instructions in the doorway (Medhal) hall. Here you can check out the English chandelier, with its sixty arms, and the two big Turkish porcelain vases. Next, the guide will take you through the secretariat room, the entrance hall, and the show hall. Here you will see a variety of rare gold, silver, porcelain, and crystal products.
Things get fascinating after passing through the palace’s mosque (Mescit) and the resting chamber. You go to the palace’s second storey through the crystal staircase, so named because of its Baccarat crystal balustrade. When you enter the ambassador (Süfera) hall, certainly one of the most important rooms in the palace, which used to hold office parties and meetings, be prepared for an eye-popping experience. Here you will find:
• Three-meter-high mirrors
• The 88-square-meter Iranian Tebriz carpet
• The 2000-kilogram chandelier with matching crystal
• The Egyptian silver clock announces the correct time, date, air pressure, and temperature.
• The pair of bearskins (one a gift from Russian Tsar Nicholas II, the other ordered simply to maintain symmetry).
Moving forward in the privy chamber, you will come across some of the most magnificent parquets. In the study room, you will find a 1911 Steinway piano.
But all of this is a warm-up for the main event: the Muyade Hall. All state ceremonies and celebrations were held in this room, which could fit up to 2500 people. It has a dome with a diameter of 25 meters and covers roughly 2.000 square meters. On the floor, there are 124 square meters of Hereke carpet. However, the hottest piece is the English chandelier, which was created in 1853 and holds 664 lamps and weighs 4,5 tonnes; it is undoubtedly the greatest. It remains the world’s most enormous chandelier, according to the guide.
The Dolmabahçe Palace, Harem Tour – “Harem-i Humayun”
The Sultan’s and his family’s private part connected to the Selamlik area by a long corridor that was always guarded to ensure that no one passed through is known as Harem.
Harem-i Humayun is a private dwelling space. Any man beside the Sultan himself and the eunuch attendants was rigorously forbidden from entering the Harem. There were apartments for official wives, Sultan’s suites, the Queen mother’s quarters (Valide Sultan), favorites (Gozde) and concubines (Cariye), as well as several schooling rooms for the Sultan’s young children.
Harem-i Humayun section rooms and three baths are grouped informally around 10 spacious halls, five on each storey. The four halls that face the Bosphorus each have their own unique and intricate design ideas. The Blue Hall was the Harem’s principal meeting place, and the smaller Pink Hall was nearby; both rooms open out to the harem portico.
The reflections of the Bosporus brightened the spacious rooms. Many valuable artifacts such as impressive furniture, chandeliers, rugs and kilims, inscriptions, oil paintings, and vases in the Blue and Pink Halls are Harem’s most exciting and impressive features.
The Dolmabahçe Palace Visiting Hours
The palace opens daily at 9:00 – and closes at 18:00. The last entrance & closing of the ticket office is at 17:00. The Palaces remain closed on Mondays, January 1, and the first day of religious holidays.
Note: The office may close early due to a higher number of visitors during the tourist season.
The Dolmabahçe Palace Entrance Fee
The ticket cost for the Selamlık (Official section) is 120 TL. For the Harem (Family section), it’s 90 TL. However, the combined ticket for Selamlık & Harem will cost you 150 TL. The children aged 6 and under can enter free of charge.
Note: Istanbul Museum Pass is not valid here.
If you have the slightest interest in the architecture and history of the Ottoman Empire, don’t forget to visit Dolmabahçe Palace while visiting Istanbul.
The palace’s rich history, architecture, interior, style, and grandeur will leave you mesmerized and awestruck.