Dolmabahce Palace and Tours
Dolmabahce Palace was constructed between 1843 and 1856; it is among the most glamorous palaces still in existence in the world. The palace was the centre of administration for the Ottoman Empire, and was also home, and the death place, of the last Ottoman sultan, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. When the Republic of Turkey was established in the 1920s, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk relegated all activities related to the government to Ankara, the capital of Turkey, but he continued to reside in a small room at Dolmabahce Palace as often as possible.
Dolmabahce tours of the palace allow you to see the beautiful opulent bedrooms, as well as the small room which Mustafa chose as his own. It is surprising he opted for a relatively small and dowdy room, when he could have had a far grander abode. The last Ottoman sultan and first Turkish president spent the last and most serious period of his illness in the palace, and he passed away from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 57 in his room there on the 10th of November, 1938. The exact time of his death was 9:05 AM, and to this day the clocks in the palace are stopped at this hour.
Interesting facts about Dolmabahce Palace
Dolmabahçe Palace became important to the leaders of the Ottoman Empire when they decided to abandon another Istanbul residence, Topkapi Palace, in favour of the more European Dolmabahce palace which combined baroque, rococo and neoclassical styles.
The name "Dolmabahce" signifies "stuffed garden" and relates to the fact that the magnificent gardens adjoined to the palace were on reclaimed land.
Dolmabahce Palace covers an area of 45,000 square metres, and it is Turkey’s largest palace. It has a staggering 285 rooms, six Turkish baths, 43 banquet or conference halls, a full-sized ballroom, and 43 lavatories.
When the palace was built, constructors used a mindblowing 14 tons of gold leaf for decoration.
Dolmabahce Palace Tours
You can choose from two distinct tour itineraries to see around Dolmabahce Palace, with separate entrance fees, or you can pay to see both at a discounted price. You are only able to look round as part of a guided tour, and the taking of photographs is forbidden.
The first guided tour available is the Selamlik, which is a tour of the ceremonial suites. The Selamlik was an area where only men were permitted to enter and it has extravagantly decorated rooms which contain a huge and beautiful array of priceless goods including carpets, Turkish porcelain, and gold and silver ornaments. The crystal in the Selamik is particularly impressive. One highlight you cannot fail to miss is a crystal staircase. Dolmabahce Palace also boosts some incredible crystal chandeliers. The largest weighs an incredible 4.5 tons, and is the biggest chandelier in the world.
The second tour consists of a visit to the Harem-Cariyeler, which is where the females of the family in residence would reside. This part of the palace is connected to Selamik by a corridor. The Harem consists of many bedrooms, long hallways and bathrooms, which were used by the reigning Sultan’s wives, children, mother and concubines.