Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace (Dolmabahce Sarayi) is an opulent nineteenth century palace on the Bosphorus which twice served as the seat of the Ottoman Empire.

Begun in 1842 under Sultan Abdulmecit I, Dolmabahce Palace was completed in 1853 and first became the base of the Ottoman Empire as well as the home of Sultan Abdulmecit from 1856. It would remain as such until 1922, except for a twenty year period from 1889, when the seat was moved to Yildiz Palace.

Even after the beginning of the Turkish Republic, Dolmabahce Palace did not lose its stature. In fact, it became the residence of its first president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who died there on 10 November 1938.

With its grand size and appearance both in it colourful interiors and ornate neoclassical exterior, Dolmabahce Palace is quite something to see. One of its most impressive rooms is the Throne Hall, with its elaborate chandelier gifted by Queen Victoria.

Today, Dolmabahce Palace is a museum. Entry by guided tour only and if you’re planning to visit all the sections, a tour can take up to two and a half hours.

Dolmabahçe Palace Map And Location

The Dolmabahçe Palace is a palace built on an area of ​​250,000 m², which started in 1843 and finished in 1856. It is located on the left bank of the Sea of ​​Marmara at the entrance of the Bosphorus by sea, opposite Üsküdar and Salacak.

The area where the Dolmabahçe Palace is today is a large bay of the Bosphorus, where the Ottoman Captain-Derya's anchors the ships until four centuries ago. This division, which hosts maritime ceremonies, has become a swamp in time. In the 17th century, the cove filled to get rid of the marsh was transformed into a "hasbahçe" as a place of entertainment and rest for the sultans.

There is no information about the precise date of the destruction of the mansions in the place of the present Dolmabahçe Palace, in order to bring out the land recovered from the sea about 200 years ago. It is estimated that the palace was in place in 1842 and the construction of the new palace was started after this date. Together with this date, it is stated that the fields and cemeteries on the periphery are purchased and expropriated for the expansion of the construction site. Various sources for the date of construction are given different dates. However, we understand that at the end of 1853, a French who visited the palace construction told them that the ornaments of the palace had been made, and that the furniture had not been placed yet.

The palace's front built by Sultan Abdülmecit I extends 600 meters along the European shore of the Bosphorus. It was built between 1843-1855 by Garib Amira Balyan and his son Nigoğos Balyan, a mixture of European architectural styles. The opening ceremony of the Dolmabahçe Palace, which was completely finished in 1855, came after the Paris Treaty with the Russians (30 March 1856). 7 The Ceride-i Havadis dated to Şevval 1272 (11 June 1856), the palace officially opened on 7 June 1856 have been informed

During the reign of Abdulmecit, 3 million purses of the palace were borrowed and this debt was transferred to the Treasury. After this, the finance was in a difficult situation and the salaries fell to the levels that would be paid in 3-4 months. Sultan Abdülmecit could live only 5 years in the Dolmabahçe Palace, which cost 5,000,000 gold.

Abdülmecid Efendi, who received a telegram signed by the Grand National Assembly rector Gazi Mustafa Kemal, was declared caliph and abandoned Dolmabahçe Palace (1924) with Abdülmecit Efendi entourage with the removal of the Caliphate. Iranian Shah Pahlavi, Iraqi King Faisal, Jordanian King Abdullah, Afghan King Amanullah, British King Edward who came for a special visit and King Aleksandr of Yugoslavia were welcomed by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Dolmabahçe Palace. The first Turkish History Congress was opened on the 27th September 1932 at the Muayede Salonu, and the First and Second Turkish Language Conventions were held here in 1934. The European meeting of the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme, the world organization of the Turing institutions, was held at the Dolmabahçe Palace and the first opening of the palace was introduced (1930).

During the Republican period, the most important event in the palace which Atatürk used as his residence during his visit to Istanbul was the death of Atatürk on November 10, 1938. Atatürk passed away in the 71st chamber of the palace. The last respect was passed from the front of the catafalga konan nasası established in the Muayede Salonu. The palace was used by İsmet İnönü during his presidency after Atatürk and during his arrival in Istanbul. After the single party period, the palace was opened to serve foreign guests. German President Gronchi, Iraqi Faysal, Indonesian Prime Minister Sukarno, Prime Minister of France General de Gaulle ceremonies and banquets were given to the honor.

In 1952, the Dolmabahçe Palace was opened to the public one day a week in the National Assembly Administration. On July 10, 1964, a public opening ceremony was held at the meeting of the National Assembly Presidency and was closed down on 14 January 1971, in the words of a notice by the National Assembly Administration. Dolmabahçe Palace, which was opened on 25 June 1979 by order of the President of the Parliament numbered 554, was closed again on 12 October of the same year. About two months later, he started to serve again with the phone order of the President of the Parliament. With the decision of the MGK Executive Branch dated 16 June 1981 and numbered 1.473, the palace was closed again to the visitors and a month later it was opened with the order of the General Secretariat of the MGK numbered 1.750.

Departments providing cafeteria services and cafeteria services departments for visitors are set up in the gardens of Clock Tower, Furnishings Department, Kuşluk, Harem and Veliahd Districts. Books prepared in this section by the Culture-Promotion Center and exhibiting scientific features of national palaces, various postcards and National Palaces Table Collection Just like the products selected from the sale are offered for sale. On the other hand, the Muayede Hall and the gardens are divided into national and international receptions, new arrangements have been made to the palace, museum units in the museum, arts and cultural events. The palace has been serving as a museum since 1984.

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Dolmabahce Palace gardens – Dolmabahce Palace Visit Istanbul

Six large palace gardens, adorned with water jets, flower beds of all kinds and statues of various animals.

The Imperial Doors of the Palace

None of them open directly onto the entrance to the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul , they invite you to enter the gardens first. There are 10 of them (6 on the land side and 4 on the sea side).

The two monumental doors are one of the peculiarities of the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul , they symbolize the magnificence of the Empire. The Treasure Door opposite the Clock Tower and the Royal Door are the main entrances. Each column door joins a central arch surrounded by smaller arcs in a graceful oval. The towers on each side accentuate this oval. Heavy ornamentation dominates, with colonnades, rosettes, shells, leaves, branches and pearl necklaces.

Besides the main building, Selamlik and the harem, the entire estate is made up of 16 independent parts intended for various functions: stables, mills, pharmacies, kitchens, aviaries, workshops, forges, pastries …

The cost of building the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul is 5,000,000 pounds of gold, the equivalent of 35 tonnes of this metal.

For 68 years, six sultans will succeed one another at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul until the abolition of the caliphate and the departure of Abdulmecit II in March 1924. On March 3 of that same year, the new Turkish Republic became owner of the Palace and its management is entrusted to the Directorate of the National Palace (Milli Saraylar Daire Başkanlığı), under the responsibility of the National Assembly.

Dolmabahce Palace - History

Did you know, Dolmabahce palace has 285 rooms, 44 halls, 68 toilets and 6 Turkish baths?

Did you know, 14 tons of gold were used to decorate ceilings in gold leaves?

Did you know, 131 handmade silk carpets were ordered to be woven in the town of Hereke for the palace?

Did you know, the crystal chandelier sent by Queen Victoria of England as a gift to the palace is the largest chandelier in the world with its 750 bulbs and weights 4.5 tons?

Did you know, the founder of Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, died in the most basic bedroom of the palace compared to the rest and the clock in the room is still pointing to 09:05 am?

Did you know, you are not allowed to take pictures inside of the palace which is the most impressive?

Did you know, you can only enter to the palace by joining a guided tour and not allowed to tour the inside areas on your own?

Did you know, the palace was the home to the last six sultans of the abolished Ottoman Empire?

Did you know, the site of palace was originally a bay on the Bosporus which was used for the anchorage of the Ottoman fleet?

Did you know, Dolmabahce means “filled garden” in English?

Did you know, Dolmabahce is the largest palace in Turkey with an area of 45.000 m2?

Did you know, really very expensive stones such as Egyptian alabaster, Marmara marble and porphyry from Pergamum were used for the decoration?

Did you know, a collection of 202 beautiful oil paintings done by Ivan Aivazovsky, Gustave Boulanger, Eugene Fromentin, Jean Leon Gerome, Stanislaw Chlebowski, Sandor Svaboda, Fausto Zonaro, Felix Ziem, Theo Van Rysselberghe, Karl Joseph Kuwasseg, Osman Hamdi Bey, Osman Nuri Pasa, Halil Pasa, Sekrit Dag and Omer Ben Mustafa is on display in the palace?

Did you know, the rooms of the palace facing the sea were used by the Grand Vizier, leading Ottoman officials and the state ministers?

Did you know, the crystal staircase with a crystal chandelier takes anyone’s breathe away?

Did you know, the palace accepts guests on weekdays except on Mondays and Thursdays, from 09:00 to 15:00?


Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, Turkey sits on the Bosphorus strait, a narrow (and strategic) strip of water dividing Asia and Europe. The Bosphorus is, in fact, the perfect metaphor for the palace itself, which is a conglomeration of Western and Turkish styles. Combining Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Ottoman architecture, Dolmabahçe Palace seems to have been designed with only one thing in mind—splendor.

It is a truly sybaritic construction, filled with everything extravagant: from 150-year-old bearskin rugs presented to the Sultan by the Tsar of Russia to Ghiordes-knotted carpets made by the Hereke Imperial Factory. Perhaps the Ottoman Empire’s 31 st Sultan, Abdülmecid I, who ordered the palace construction, sent out a royal memo asking that the place be stuffed with anything gold and glittering. Besides the fourteen tons of gold leaf gilding the ceilings, Dolmabahçe Palace features the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world.

Once known as the largest Bohemian crystal chandelier in existence, the Crystal Staircase Chandelier was a gift from Queen Victoria (someone who recognized the appeal of excess). Hanging above the horseshoe-shaped staircase, which itself has Baccarat crystal balusters, the Crystal Staircase Chandelier weighs in at 4.5 tons (9000 pounds). With 750 lamps, countless arms and candle cups, and innumerable prisms and pendalogues, the Dolmabahçe Palace chandelier is dripping with crystals—a veritable feast of lucent light, scintillating sparkle, and clinquant coruscation.

Dolmabahce Palace

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.

Dolmabahçe Palace, Turkey’s Biggest Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace (Dolmabahçe Sarayı), Turkey’s largest mono-block palace, was commissioned by Sultan Abdül Mecit in 1843.
Built to belie the military and financial decline of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul’s first European-style palace was an opulent one, excessive in size and filled with gold and crystal.

Dolmahaçe Palace – © The Istanbul Insider

Dolmabahçe Means Filled Garden

The area where the Dolmabahçe Palace now stands used to be a small bay of the Bosphorus. From the 18th century onwards, the bay was gradually filled to become an imperial garden by the Bosphorus. People referred to it as Dolmabahçe, literally meaning filled (dolma) garden (bahçe).

Since the sultans loved the site a lot, plenty of mansions (köşk) and pavilions (kasır) were built on that spot during the 18th and 19th centuries. Gradually this collection grew into a complex called the Beşiktaş Waterfront Palace, demolished by order of Sultan Abdül Mecit to make way for the Dolmabahçe Palace. He decided to move from Topkapi Palace to Dolmabahçe Palace since it would be able to provide ‘modern’ luxuries that Topkapi Palace lacked.

Extravagant Palace

The true reason behind the construction of Dolmabahçe Palace was to cover up that the Ottoman Empire was in decline. Therefore, the new palace had to be lavishly decorated to impress the world. It also had to break with the Ottoman tradition of constructing a series of pavilions, so he ordered the leading Ottoman architect Garabet Baylan and his son Nigoğayos to build a mono-block Ottoman-European palace. The construction began in 1843 and was finished in 1856.

The result is a two-floor palace, covering an area of 45.000 m², containing 285 rooms, 44 halls, 68 toilets and 6 baths (hamam). The design is a mixture of Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Classic and traditional Ottoman art and culture. Fourteen tons of gold were used to gild the ceilings. It also has the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world. The price tag for all this: a staggering five million Ottoman gold coins, the current equivalent of 35 tons of gold.

Six Sultans and Atatürk

Starting with the move of the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from Topkapi Palace in 1856, until the abolishment of the caliphate in 1924, the Dolmabahçe Palace was home to six sultans. There was however a 20-year interval from 1889 to 1909 in which the Yıldız Palace was used.

Dolmabahçe Palace Museum

The palace is comprised of a main unit, Heir Section, Furniture and Guards’ Room, Operational Mansions, Glass Mansion and other small pavilions. Dolmabahçe Palace has eight spacious saloons and 200 rooms, as well as two main and seven side gates, with five gates on the sea front.

While the gardens are arranged in four sections, the main building is comprised of three sections, namely the State Office (Mabeyn-i Hümayun), Auction Hall and Private Office. The front of the palace overlooks the sea, and the Private Office is a two-storey building.

The Süfera (envoy) Saloon on the upper floor of the palace is one of its most impressive sections. The Auction Hall rises between the State and Private Offices as a monumental structure. It is built on a square-like surface, covered with a dome from the inside and a roof from the outside. It is adorned with rich decorations.

The Private Office is made up of Sultan’s Office and harem. The Harem is a plain section with grand common-use areas and closed private rooms.

Dolmabahçe Palace: The Heart Of Turkish History

Dolmabahçe Palace is without a doubt at the top of the list of historical buildings you must see if you are visiting Istanbul. The palace is not only an important part of Turkish history, dating back to the Ottoman Empire Era, but it is also an architectural beauty with its breathtaking design both inside and outside. You will be in awe as you tour this magnificent structure standing for over a century. Learning about Dolmabahçe Palace and its deep history will allow you to see everything differently and know the importance of each object or each room during your visit.


Dolmabahçe Palace was built during the 19th century, between the years of 1843 and 1856 by the order of the Sultan Abdülmecid who mainly lived in the Topkapi Palace. The Ottoman Empire was in need of a new palace as its headquarters due to Topkapi Palace being outdated and not as comfortable. Therefore, Dolmabahçe Palace was designed as a modern building that could meet the needs of the Sultans while providing enough comfort and luxury that was suitable to the might of the Ottomans. The project was carried out by the Armenian architects of the Ottoman court named Balyan family.

Even though Dolmabahçe Palace was used as a secondary residence and then as the winter residence of the Sultans. Later on, it became the permanent residence of the Sultans until the Republic of Turkey was established after the War of Liberation in 1923. After the change in the entire ruling system of the country, Dolmabahçe Palace became the presidential residence. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, stayed in the palace during his time in Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk passed away in his room numbered 71 in Dolmabahçe Palace on the 10th of November in 1938 at 09:05 am. Considering the love the Turks have for their founding father Atatürk, Dolmabahçe Palace has a different importance to the people of Turkey. The palace was turned into a museum in 1952 and has been operating as one ever since.


Dolmabahçe Palace is made up of three main sections. Administrative rooms, Ceremonial Hall and the Imperial Harem. In total, the palace has 285 rooms, 46 galleries and reception halls, 6 hamams also known as Turkish baths along with 68 restrooms.

The section that has great importance among all is the Administrative rooms, also known as Mabeyn-i Hümayun, due to their function as the headquarters of the Ottoman Empire where important decisions were made. However, this section also draws attention to its grandeur with a crystal staircase, crystal chandeliers, Hereke carpets, fireplaces and a meticulously designed Turkish bath known as hamam.

The Ceremonial Hall is built between the other sections and it is the place where the Sultans would receive their guests of importance. In addition to receiving important guests, both religious and state ceremonies took place in the Ceremonial Hall. The huge crystal chandelier found in this section was a gift sent from the Queen Victoria of England and it is the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier. After the death of the founding father Atatürk, he was laid in a catafalque in the Ceremonial Hall for the people to come and pay their respects to their leader.

The Harem is another section where the women of the palace lived and it was guarded at all times to ensure no men entered except for the Sultan himself as well as the eunuch. There were many different rooms such as the quarter of the mother of the Sultan known as Valide Sultan, rooms for the official wives of the Sultan along with his favorites and concubines. This section also includes classrooms for the children of the Sultan where they were educated. The Harem also includes traditional Turkish baths.

Atatürk’s room must be mentioned separately from the other sections of Dolmabahçe Palace. The room remains just as it was to this day. He spent his last days before he passed away in this room in 1938. The clocks in his room are set to the time of Atatürk’s death, 09:05 AM as a way of paying respect and remembering him.


In addition to the Dolmabahçe Palace itself, there are several other buildings such as the palace of the Crown Prince, the quarters of the gentleman-in-waiting, the rooms of the servants and guards as well as the quarters of the chief eunuch.

There is also Dolmabahçe Mosque right outside of the palace itself that was built between 1853 and 1855 along with a Clock Tower that was built between the years 1890 and 1895.

Dolmabahçe Mosque housed the naval museum after 1948 however, the mosque became a place of worship again in 1967 after the museum was moved to a different location in 1960.


Dolmabahçe Palace is located in Besiktas district of Istanbul, right beside the Bosphorus. This location originally was a bay where the Ottoman fleet anchored about 400 years ago and many naval ceremonies happened in this bay at the time. Later on, the coast was filled and it became a garden -therefore named Dolmabahçe that literally means “filled garden”- where the Ottoman Sultans spent time and rested in the 17th century which was then called Hasbahçe. With many mansions being built in the area, the site started to be known as Besiktas Coastal Palace. Dolmabahçe Palace was built in the place of some of the old buildings found in this complex.


While it is used as a museum today, the Ceremonial Hall and the gardens can be reserved for big events. Dolmabahçe Palace is open for a visit between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm except on Mondays. However, the other buildings are open till 5:00 pm. If you wish to visit the entire palace, the fee of the combined ticket is 90 TL.

History of Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahace actually means "the filled garden". The Palace is built on land reclaimed from the Bosphorus, hence it got its name of Dolmabahace. The famous painter Melling visited Istanbul during the reign of Sultan Mahmut II and the wooden palace, which originally stood there, is represented in many of his prints. After Mahmut II, Sultan Abdulmecit came to stay there and he ordered the palace to be rebuilt in a western fashion, giving its present form. He employed the services of the Armenian architect Nikogos Balyan to complete this enormous task, which was completed between 1843 and 1856.

The affluence of the western world brought by Industrial revolution had influenced Abdulmecit to adopt a lavish lifestyle. From that perspective, the Dolmabahce Palace was a true reflection of the times in its splendor and glamour.

Sultan Abdulmecit shifted to the Dolmabahce Palace permanently with his family from the original residence of Turkish monarchy in Topkapi Palace. However, unfortunately, this was also an example of the wasteful expenditure that brought about the gradual decline of the Turkish Empire. Sultan Abdulmecit died at a rather young age of tuberculosis and his successor Abdulaziz was dethroned in 1876 because of his extravagance and despotism. He ultimately was retired to a simple palace at Ortakoy. Later Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, used a small portion of the palace for his residence, but used it mainly as a center for various congresses.

Watch the video: Yıldız Sarayı. YILDIZ PALACE (January 2022).