Dolmabahce Palace

The Dolmabahçe Palace (Turkish: Dolmabahçe Sarayi) is a palace in Istanbul, Turkey, located at the European side of the Bosphorus. The palace served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1853 to 1922, apart from a ten-year period (1889-1909) in which the Yildiz Palace was used.


Dolmabahçe Palace was the first European-style palace in Istanbul and was built by Sultan Abdülmecid between 1842 and 1853, at a cost of five million Ottoman gold pounds, the equivalent of 35 tons of gold. 14 tons of gold was used only to adorn the interior ceiling of the palace. The world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, a gift from Queen Victoria, is at the center hall. The chandelier has 750 lamps and weighs 4.5 tons. Dolmabahçe has the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world, and even the staircases are made of Baccarat crystal.

Dolmabahçe was originally a bay in the Bosphorus which was filled gradually during the 18th century to become an imperial garden, much appreciated by the Ottoman sultans (and from here comes the name, dolma meaning 'filled' and bahçe 'garden'). Various summer palaces were built here during the 18th and 19th centuries. The palace that stands here today was built between 1842 and 1853 during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid, on the site of the old coastal palace of Besiktas, by the Armenian-Turkish architects Garabet Amira Balyan and his son Nigogayos Balyan. The Sultans moved here since the old Topkapi Palace lacked the modern luxuries that the Dolmabahçe could provide. 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 Hümâyûn (the Harem; i.e. the apartments of the family of the Sultan). The palace has an area of 45,000 m² (11.2 acres), and contains 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths (hamam) and 68 toilets. The famous Crystal Staircase has the shape of a double horseshoe and is built of Baccarat crystal, brass and mahogany. The palace includes a large number of Hereke palace carpets made by Hereke Imperial Factory. Also featured are 150-year-old bearskin rugs originally presented to the Sultan as a gift by the Tsar of Russia.

The palace is managed by Milli Saraylar Daire Baskanligi (Directorate of National Palaces) bound to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Dolmabahçe Palace Museum is open to public in weekdays from 9:00 to 15:00, except Mondays and Thursdays.

Atatürk's room

The palace housed Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of Turkey, in his last years, while he was suffering from illness. Atatürk died at 9:05 a.m. on November 10, 1938, in Dolmabahçe Palace, now Atatürk's room is part of the museum.

Dolmabahçe was built in neo-baroque style between 1843-1856 in the rapidly growing northern section of the city, at the Marmara outlet of the Bosphorus, to replace the Topkapi Palace which was out fashioned. The architect was Karabet Balyan, head architect of Sultan Abdulmecit. It has 3 floors including the basement with a symmetric design, with 285 rooms, 43 halls, 6 Turkish baths. The pier is 600 meters long and the palace has two beautifully decorated monumental gates giving access to its courtyard. The huge ballroom has a 4,5 tons crystal chandelier hanging from its 36 meters high ceiling.

Dolmabahce housed Sultans and their families before the Republic, and it was then used by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk during his visits to Istanbul. Atatürk died here on the 10th of November, 1938. The palace now serves as a museum and a guest-house used for receptions for important foreign statesmen during their official visits.

Open daily between 9:00-4:00 p.m. except Mondays & Thursdays
Tel: (212) 258 54 44

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