Dolmabahce Palace is a magnificent building located on the European shore of the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, Turkey. It was the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922, except for a 20-year period when Yıldız Palace was used. It was also the residence of six sultans and the last caliph until 1924, when the caliphate was abolished. The palace was then turned into a museum in 1984 and is now open to the public.
Dolmabahce Palace was built between 1843 and 1856 by order of Sultan Abdülmecid I, who wanted a more modern and luxurious palace than the medieval Topkapı Palace. The palace was designed by four architects from the Royal Department of Architecture of the Ottoman Empire, who combined the Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles with traditional Ottoman elements. The palace has a facade of more than 600 meters and a surface area of 15,000 square meters. It has 285 rooms, 43 halls, 68 toilets and 6 Turkish baths. The palace also boasts a large collection of paintings, sculptures, carpets, furniture and chandeliers, including the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, which weighs 4.5 tons and has 750 lamps.
Dolmabahce Palace is divided into two main sections: the Selamlık (public section) and the Harem (private section). The Selamlık was used for official ceremonies and receptions, while the Harem was where the sultan and his family lived. The two sections are connected by a long corridor called the Crystal Staircase. Some of the most notable rooms in the palace are:
- The Medhal Hall: The main entrance hall of the Selamlık, where guests were welcomed by the sultan or his representatives. It has a large dome decorated with gold leaf and a crystal chandelier.
- The Ceremonial Hall: The largest hall in the palace, where state ceremonies, balls and banquets were held. It has a ceiling height of 36 meters and covers an area of 2000 square meters. It has two large crystal chandeliers and a crystal fireplace.
- The Red Room: The throne room of the sultan, where he received foreign dignitaries and ambassadors. It has a red carpet, red curtains and red upholstery. It also has a crystal chandelier and a crystal fountain.
- The Blue Hall: The dining room of the sultan, where he hosted formal dinners for his guests. It has a blue carpet, blue curtains and blue upholstery. It also has a crystal chandelier and a crystal fountain.
- The Atatürk Room: The room where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey, stayed during his visits to Istanbul. He also died in this room on November 10, 1938. The room is preserved as it was on that day, with his personal belongings and a clock that stopped at 9:05 am, the time of his death.
Dolmabahce Palace is open to visitors every day except Mondays and Thursdays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The entrance fee is 90 Turkish lira for both sections or 60 Turkish lira for one section.
There are guided tours available in Turkish, English, French and German for an extra fee.Visitors can also rent audio guides in various languages for 25 Turkish lira.
To get to Dolmabahce Palace, visitors can take a bus or a tram to Kabataş station and then walk for about 10 minutes along the coast. Alternatively, they can take a ferry to Beşiktaş pier and then walk for about 15 minutes or take a taxi. There are also boat tours that stop at the palace pier.
Some tips for visiting Dolmabahce Palace are:
- Buy your tickets online in advance to avoid long queues at the ticket office.
- Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved.
- Respect the dress code and cover your shoulders and knees.
- Do not take photos or videos inside the palace as it is forbidden.
- Do not touch or sit on any furniture or objects as they are very valuable.
- Do not bring any food or drinks inside the palace as they are not allowed.
- Enjoy the stunning views of the Bosporus from the palace gardens.
There are also various tours that include a visit to Dolmabahce Palace along with other attractions in Istanbul. Some examples are:
- Dolmabahçe Palace and Bosphorus Cruise Tour: This tour combines a guided visit to Dolmabahçe Palace with a cruise along the Bosporus strait that passes by historical landmarks such as Ortaköy Mosque, Rumeli Fortress and Maiden’s Tower.
- Dolmabahçe Palace and Two Continents Tour: This tour combines a guided visit to Dolmabahçe Palace with a visit to Çamlıca Hill on the Asian side of Istanbul, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
- Dolmabahçe Palace and Spice Bazaar Tour: This tour combines a guided visit to Dolmabahçe Palace with a visit to Spice Bazaar, one of the oldest and most colorful markets in Istanbul, where you can buy spices, dried fruits, nuts, teas and souvenirs.
Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most beautiful and impressive palaces in Istanbul and Turkey. It is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in Ottoman history, architecture and art. It is also a place where you can witness the transition from an empire to a republic and pay tribute to Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey.
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