Dolmabahce Palace: Where Splendor and History Meet

Dolmabahçe Palace is located in Beşiktaş, one of the most beautiful areas of Istanbul. Enjoying a magnificent location on the shores of the Bosphorus, it was built during the late Ottoman Empire and is considered the second largest palace in Istanbul after Topkapi Palace.

The palace has historical significance both as a magnificent structure that can compete with palaces in Europe and as a reflection of the Ottoman Empire’s modernization efforts.

Its importance during the Ottoman Empire

Dolmabahçe Palace plays a very important role in the last periods of the Ottoman Empire. Built in the mid-19th century, the palace stands out as a structure that reflects the splendor of the period and the openings towards Europe.

Dolmabahce Sarayi Denizden
Joshua Davenport

The construction of the palace can be considered as part of the modernization process of the Empire. With the beginning of the use of the palace, the Ottoman sultans and the administration moved from Topkapı Palace to Dolmabahçe.

The palace became a symbol of the power and wealth of the Ottoman Empire. Inspired by European palaces, this building was an indication of the Empire’s desire to establish closer relations with the Western world and to live at European standards.

The palace hosted political and diplomatic events during its period and tried to increase the prestige of the Empire in the international arena.

The architecture and design of Dolmabahçe Palace

The palace is a very impressive and remarkable building in terms of architecture. This palace, which belongs to the last periods of the Ottoman Empire, was designed and built by the architect Balyan family. Garabet Amira Balyan and his son Nigoğayos Balyan served as the chief architects of the palace. The architecture of the palace is a successful blend of Baroque, Rococo and Ampir styles.

Dolmabahce Sarayi Binasi
Seçkin Ağaoğlu

The palace is located on an area of 45,000 square meters and has a total of 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths and 68 toilets. The palace is divided into two main sections called Harem and Mabeyn.

  • Harem is the private part of the palace where the sultan’s family lives,
  • Mabeyn represents the part where state affairs are conducted and diplomatic receptions are held.

The white marble and colored stones used on the exterior of the palace not only added grandeur to the building but also provided protection against the harmful effects of salt water due to its location on the seashore. The interiors of the palace were furnished with European imports and ornaments, and offered the most luxurious living standards of its time.

The Muayede Hall, one of the most important and eye-catching spaces of the palace, is famous for its 2000 square meter size and its gigantic crystal chandelier weighing 4.5 tons. The chandelier was imported from England and is considered one of the most valuable pieces of the palace. This hall used to host important state ceremonies and receptions.

Dolmabahçe Palace interiors

The palace is an impressive building that reflects the luxurious living standards and splendor of its period with its interiors. The rooms, halls and other spaces inside the palace are equipped with rich decorations and items imported from Europe.

  • Muayede Hall: The Muayede Hall, the largest and most magnificent hall of the palace, hosted important state ceremonies and reception ceremonies. With a size of 2000 square meters, the hall is famous for its huge crystal chandelier weighing 4.5 tons.
  • Throne Room: The Throne Room, where the coronation ceremonies of the sultans were held and hosted important reception ceremonies, attracts attention with its elegant decorations and valuable items. The throne here is one of the most valuable pieces of its period.
  • Harem: The Harem, the private section of the palace, covers the area where the sultan’s family lives. In the harem, there are places such as the rooms of the valide sultan, the rooms of the sultan’s wives and children, the areas where concubines live and training rooms. This section is important as an area that reflects the lifestyle and private life of the period.
  • Library: The library at the palace houses one of the most valuable and extensive book collections of the period. The library, which played an important role in the educational and cultural activities of the sultans and courtiers, also has remarkable architectural features.
  • Mosque: Located in the palace complex, the Dolmabahçe Mosque was used as a place of worship for the courtiers and their families. The mosque is a remarkable building with its elegant architecture and decorations.
  • Other important areas: The palace had many other spaces such as baths, kitchens, workshops and study rooms. These areas shed light on the daily life and functioning of the palace.

Dolmabahçe Palace and the last periods of the Ottoman Empire

The palace was an important center for the sultans of the late Ottoman Empire. Sultan Abdülmecid II moved here from Topkapı Palace after the completion of the palace and the palace started to be used as the residence of the new sultans. Dolmabahçe Palace also held an important position during the reigns of Sultan Abdülaziz and Abdülhamid II.

Dolmabahce Sarayi Askeri Gun Batimi
Hidayah Hamdi

The palace also symbolizes the economic difficulties and indebtedness of the late Ottoman Empire. Huge financial resources were spent during the construction and operation of the palace, which further deepened the Empire’s economic problems.

Who lived in Dolmabahçe Palace?

The palace was built for the sultans and their families living in the late Ottoman Empire. When the palace was completed in 1856, it was used by Sultan Abdülmecid and his family. Later, Sultan Abdülmecid’s successors, Sultan Abdülaziz and Sultan Murat V, also lived in the palace.

Sultan Vahdettin, the last sultan of the Ottoman Empire, also lived in this palace until he was deposed. In addition, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, stayed in Dolmabahçe Palace during his visits to Istanbul.

Dolmabahce Sarayi Bahcesi

Use as a museum and exhibited artifacts

Today, Dolmabahçe Palace is both preserved as a historical building and serves as a museum. Valuable artifacts and objects of the period are exhibited in the museum.

The rooms and halls inside the palace are furnished with original items and offer visitors an atmosphere that reflects the lifestyle of the period.

In the museum, there are many valuable artifacts such as the thrones of the sultans, paintings by the painters of the period, furniture and decoration items imported from Europe, clothes and weapons from the last periods of the Ottoman Empire.

The Dolmabahçe Palace Museum also exhibits the death bed of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. Atatürk passed away in the palace on November 10, 1938, and this event increased the historical importance of the palace. The items used by Atatürk and his study room are also among the sections that attract the attention of visitors.

Be sure to see these.

  • Magnificent Crystal Chandelier: Located in the great hall of the palace, this chandelier, known as the largest Bohemian crystal chandelier in the world, is a magnificent structure.
  • Atatürk’s Room: The room in the palace where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, stayed and died on November 10, 1938, is open to visitors due to its historical importance.

Dolmabahce Sarayi Odalari
National Palaces
Dolmabahce Sarayi Ataturkun Vefat Ettigi Oda Yatak
National Palaces

  • Harem: The Harem, the private section where the Ottoman sultans and their families lived, offers visitors many rooms and suites that describe the lifestyle of the period.
  • Silver Cot: This valuable and ostentatious bedstead in Sultan Abdülaziz’s room is an important artifact that attracts the attention of visitors.
  • Stairs: The staircases in the palace attract attention with their magnificent structures and details. Especially the marble main staircase and the crystal staircase offer a dazzling view to the visitors.
Dolmabahce Sarayi Merdivenleri Basamaklari
Rilind Hoxha
  • Selamlık Section: The section of the palace where state affairs are conducted, Selamlık tells visitors about the official affairs and ceremonies held in the late Ottoman Empire.
  • Dolmabahçe Mosque: Located right next to the palace and built by Garabet Balyan, the architect of the palace, Dolmabahçe Mosque has a remarkable architectural structure.
  • Palace Gardens: The large and beautiful gardens of the palace offer visitors a peaceful and natural atmosphere. It also attracts attention with its view overlooking the Bosphorus.

Dolmabahce Sarayi Kapilari
Dolmabahce Sarayi Bahceleri

  • Dolmabahçe Hamam: Located inside the palace and used for the sultan and his family during its period, the hamam provides important information on Ottoman bath culture and architecture.
    Hazine-i Hassa: The Treasury-i Hassa section in the palace is a room where valuable items and jewelry in the palace are exhibited.

Visiting hours and entrance fees

Which days are Dolmabahçe Palace open?

The palace is open on certain days of the week for visitors. It can be visited every day except Mondays and Thursdays. The opening hours start at 9:00 in the morning and serve visitors until 18:00 in the evening.

Entrance fees to the Dolmabahçe Palace Museum vary for different categories of visitors. There are full ticket prices, discounted ticket prices and student ticket prices.

There are also combined ticket options that you can use together with other museums, mansions and pavilions. You can find all current ticket price information, including options for use with Müzekart, on Dolmabahçe’s official website.

Dolmabahce Palace Clock Tower

Dolmabahçe Clock Tower is located just outside the palace, close to the entrance gate of the palace. Built between 1890-1895, during the last period of the Ottoman Empire, the tower was commissioned by Sultan Abdülhamid II. The tower was built in Ottoman architecture, which at the time was under the influence of French architectural style.

Dolmabahce Sarayi Saat Kulesi
Yuri Rapoport

Dolmabahçe Clock Tower has four floors and is 27 meters high. In the tower, there is a clock mechanism with large clock dials on four sides. This clock mechanism is considered one of the most advanced clock technologies of the period.

How to get to Dolmabahce Palace?

Getting to the palace is quite easy with Istanbul’s public transportation options. It can be reached on foot from Kabataş Tram Station, which is closest to the palace. It is also within walking distance from Beşiktaş and Kabataş piers.

How to get to Dolmabahce Palace from Sultanahmet?

  • By Tram and Funicular: Go to the tram stop in Sultanahmet and get on the T1 Kabataş direction. Get off at Kabataş stop. Then, take the F1 Kabataş-Taksim Funicular line and get off at Taksim stop. You can walk to the palace from Taksim. The walk will take approximately 10-15 minutes.
  • By Bus: From Sultanahmet, walk or take the tram to Eminönü. From the bus stops in Eminönü, take bus number 30M on the Beşiktaş – Eminönü line and get off at the stop in front of the palace.