Dolmabahçe Palace, the biggest palace in Turkey, is regarded as one of Istanbul’s most opulent and stunning attractions. This palace is located on the eastern bank of the Bosphorus Strait. It attracts millions of tourists every year with its unique landscape and impressive decorations, such as the world’s largest bohemian chandelier, luxurious furniture, fine hand-woven carpets, and gold-decorated ceilings.
Most visitors to Istanbul visit Dolmabahçe Palace. The palace was the residence of 6 Ottoman emperors. Atatürk, Turkey’s founder and first president, died in one of its rooms. Stay with us as we introduce you to the architecture and history of Dolmabahçe Palace and provide you with tips on how to explore this palace.
History of Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul
Istanbul is one of Turkey’s oldest cities, and its citizens were preoccupied with developing a European and modern life for themselves during the Ottoman Empire. The “Beyoğlu” area was the first to function as a pioneer for other regions in developing these cultures. The residents of this region arranged numerous festivities, ballet parties, and other creative events, and Beyoğlu was dubbed “Paris in the East.”
Near the Beyoğlu area, near the Bosphorus Strait, a sizable number of French-style eateries and cafés, as well as neoclassical and baroque structures, were constructed. Jews, Armenians, French and Italian merchants, and Ottomans all settled and lived in this region over time. This is how the residents of Beyoglu and the city of Istanbul eventually came to accept European culture.
When Sultan Abdul Majid I, one of the most powerful Ottoman rulers, observed these developments, he gave the order to replace the conventional Topkapi Palace with a chic and opulent structure. This is how Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace, which housed Ottoman rulers and their families for almost 400 years between 1843 and 1856, was constructed.
This palace performed as the seat of power up to the reign of the Ottoman Empire’s final ruler. It’s intriguing to learn that the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul’s construction and design cost the equivalent of 35 tons of gold! Due to these exorbitant costs, the Ottoman economy became dependent on Europe, which ultimately led to the collapse of this government.
Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul has been officially and principally owned by the Republic of Turkey since 1924 when the Turkish constitution was changed. Atatürk, who is regarded as Turkey’s first president and, in a sense, its creator, spent most of the summer days in this palace and made all of his significant decisions there. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk passed away at this palace as well.
The architecture of Dolmabahçe Palace
The architecture of this palace has three floors with an area of 45 thousand square meters. This palace has 285 rooms, 44 halls, 6 Turkish baths, and 68 toilets, and the height of its pier reaches 600 meters.
The design of Dolmabahçe Palace is a combination of different styles, such as baroque, neoclassical, and traditional Ottoman architecture, and is decorated in European style.
The outer area has beautiful sculptures, a water fountain, a clock tower, and a Dolmabahçe mosque.
The Selamlik section is the first interior part of the palace. It is very similar to European palaces and is furnished with exquisite hand-woven carpets, opulent furniture, and crystal chandeliers.
The Ceremonial Hall, which is embellished with a priceless gift from Queen Victoria I, is the gorgeous hall of Dolmabahçe Palace. You may access the harem, the blue hall, and the pink hall after that through the crystal staircase. You can glimpse the palace’s famed and massive chandelier.
Sights of Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul
Dolmabahçe Grand Palace is divided into sections, each of which, in turn, has very luxurious and beautiful equipment and special charms.
First, we will look at the outer parts of Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul:
In the southern part of Dolmabahçe Palace, Sultan Abdul Majid Osmani’s mother commissioned the construction of a mosque with magnificent and massive minarets. Dolmabahçe Mosque is a place of prayer on the royal grounds built in the European gunpowder style.
This mosque boasts unusual architectural characteristics, such as round windows under the dome, which were employed for the first time in Ottoman construction. In actuality, this mosque, also known as Bazm Alam Walideh Sultan, is a place of prayer and a private mosque of Dolmabahçe Palace.
You can see the clock tower of this palace exactly in front of the main building of Dolmabahçe Mosque Palace in Istanbul. This four-sided tower with four floors at a height of 27 meters was built by order of one of the Ottoman sultans named Abdul Hamid II. The treasury gate is located next to the clock tower, which leads to the Bosphorus Strait. This clock tower has a European style and was built by the French Paul Garnier and built and installed by the watchmaking master named “Johann Miar.” A number of electronic devices have been used in the structure and mechanism of this watch, which was made in 1979.
Palace of the Crown Prince
The Crown Prince’s Palace, also known as the National Museum of Painters, was the Ottoman rulers’ initial palace in Dolmabahçe Palace. This private mansion, which is divided from the harem by a gilded wall, was converted into a museum in 2014 to expose priceless items of art from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Next, we will introduce the inner parts of the main palace:
Mabeyn-i Humayun (Selamlik)
The Mabeyn-i Humayun section of the Istanbul Dolmabahçe Palace, which is comprised of two floors and four main halls, is the first area you encounter when entering the palace. Only men were permitted to enter this area at first, where government business was conducted.
The Selamlik sector, or the center of the palace, is regarded as the most important area from both a political and magnificence and splendor standpoint.
Because of this, this section of Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace is decorated with valuable paintings, forty one-of-a-kind crystal lamps, gorgeous hand-woven rugs, costly hardwood furniture, and other regal and distinctive items.
We’ll introduce you to some of Selamlik’s most significant halls and sections below:
Medhal Salon is the first room you see when you enter Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. This hall served as a waiting area for clients who were granted permission to enter other departments.
This room is also located at the very beginning of the entrance, and its French furniture is impressive. The exquisite painting of “the caravan from Istanbul to Mecca” is also hung in this room. Similarly, on the right wall of the secretary’s room, you can also see the painting “the city of Paris on fire.” This painting was drawn by the Austrian-French Ernst Rudolph.
Hall of Ambassadors
There are very stylish and luxurious decorations here, and as it is clear from its name, it was the residence of ambassadors of foreign countries and other guests who came from abroad embassies.
One of the most special and luxurious rooms in the Mabeyn-i section of the Dolmabahçe Palace is called the Red Room. This room is decorated in red and has an amazing effect and beauty. In this attractive room, even the chandelier is red, and a map of the world in very large dimensions, which is artistically drawn, can be seen on the wall.
The crystal staircase is the connecting path between the first floor and the second floor of Selamlik Palace, and the crystals used in its railings have made this staircase famous.
By climbing these stairs and reaching the second floor, you will see the Zulvecheyn Hall. This hall has a view of the greenery and garden of the Dolmabahçe and the Bosphorus Strait on both sides.
The harem is connected to the administrative department by a long corridor. It was always guarded by guards to ensure that no one crossed this corridor. It was strictly forbidden for any man to enter the harem except for the Sultan and the eunuchs.
The harem part consists of several rooms, bathrooms, and hallways. The Sultan’s suites, the residence of the Queen Mother (Walde Sultan), the rooms of the wives of officials, the rooms of the beloved (Gözde) and concubines (Cariye), and some rooms for the education of the Sultan’s young children are located in the harem.
The Crown Prince’s palace is located right next to the harem. In this part of Dolmabahçe Palace, there are several magnificent halls, which we will introduce below.
The blue hall, also known as the ceremonial hall, was dedicated to the Sultan’s meetings with the people. Usually, on occasions such as Eid al-Adha, the Sultan, his mother, and royal ladies celebrated in the Blue Hall. This hall is located in the center of the Sultan’s shrine and is known as the Blue Hall because of its furniture, decorations, and soft blue coloring.
In close proximity to the blue hall, the pink hall can be found. It is a little bit smaller than the blue hall. The Pink Hall also has artwork by renowned painters on its walls and a hand-woven carpet from the city of Harke covering its floor. In the past, the Sultan’s mother and other noblewomen would greet guests in this room.
Among other areas of the Dolmabahçe Palace harem, we may point out the library, which Abdul Majid II, the final Ottoman emperor, inaugurated. This library has various books collected by Sultan Abdul Majid Osmani and the first and second presidents of Turkey, Atatürk, and Inanlu. Additionally, the final Ottoman king utilized this location as a meeting spot.
Atatürk’s residence palace and introduction of Atatürk’s room
Before the Republic of Turkey, Dolmabahçe was the house of sultans, and then Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stayed there when he visited Istanbul. Atatürk died on November 10, 1938, in one of the rooms of this palace. The clock in his room is still stuck at 9:50 in the morning.