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"Gorgeous or Garish?? You Be The Judge...." Dolmabahce Palace Tip by Donna_in_India

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul: 102 reviews and 242 photos

  Crystal Staircase, Dolmabahce Palace
by Donna_in_India
  • Crystal Staircase, Dolmabahce Palace - Istanbul
      Crystal Staircase, Dolmabahce Palace
    by Donna_in_India
  • Ceremonial Hall, Dolmabahce Palace - Istanbul
      Ceremonial Hall, Dolmabahce Palace
    by Donna_in_India
  • Sultan's Room in the Harem, Dolmabahce Palace - Istanbul
      Sultan's Room in the Harem, Dolmabahce Palace
    by Donna_in_India
  • Inside Dolmabahce Palace - Istanbul
      Inside Dolmabahce Palace
    by Donna_in_India
  • Swan Fountain, Gardens, & Dolmabahce Palace - Istanbul
      Swan Fountain, Gardens, & Dolmabahce Palace
    by Donna_in_India

I love really ornate palaces and Dolmabahce (which means filled-in garden) did not disappoint! Sultan Abdul Mecit had the palace built in 1853. With an unlimited budget, architect Balian set out to create a palace greater than any other palace in the world. The result is a mix of architectural styles: Hindu, Turksih, and European. Inside are mirrors, marble, chandeliers, crystal, and silk. At over 45,000 square meters huge, the palace has 285 rooms, 46 lounges and 68 toilets It is beautifully situated on the European shore (1/2 km in length) of the Bosphorus.

Dolmabahce was built during the decline of the Ottoman Empire, financed largely by foreign loans. After the Turkish Republic was established in 1923, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk kept a room at the palace for use during his visits to Istanbul. He would later die in the palace on November 10, 1938 at 9:05 a.m. and all of the clocks in the palace are stopped at this time.

You have to visit the palace on a guided tour which is definitely a negative. The tour runs about an hour and fifteen minutes. Even though you only see a small portion of the palace, there is so much to see that you feel really rushed through.

The Imperial Gate is now the main entrance to the palace. Once through the gate you'll come to the Imperial Garden with the Swan Fountain and have your first view of the palace. The almost plainish exterior belies the opulence inside. Of course, when viewed from out on the Bosphorus, you can really appreciate the size of the palace.

The tour passes through just over 20 rooms including the Entrance Hall, Secreteriat's Rooms, Mescid & Resting Room, Ambassador's Hall, Rooms of the Crown Prince, Study Room, Passageway to the Harem, and Sultan's Room in the Harem. But the highlights are definitely the Crystal Staircase and the Ceremonial Hall (Muayede Hall).

The horseshoe-shaped Crystal Staircase leads from the entry gate to the upper levels of the palace. It is so named because it is made from Baccarat crystal and brass. The rail is a highly polished, rich mohogany . Overhead is one of the amazing Baccarat chandeliers.

The Ceremonial Hall was designed to hold 2,500 people. It sits between the Administrative Mabeyan and the Harem areas and I thought it was the most spectacular room we saw. It is 2000 square meters in size and 36 meters high. The magnificent dome is 25 meters in diameter. A chandelier that is reported to be the heaviest in the world - 4.5 tons with 664 bulbs - hangs from the dome. The hall was used to host all state ceremonies and receptions, and religious celebrations. When he died, Ataturk's body was placed in a casket in the hall and for 3 days, the public came to express their condolences.

After the tour you can spend time walking the gardens around the palace. Allow about 2 1/2 - 3 hours total for your visit.

Admission with guided tour is 15 TL

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday - Sunday 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (last tour at 4:00 p.m.)
October - February last tour is at 3:00 p.m.
The palace is closed on Mondays and Thursdays

Tours in various languages.

Photography was permitted at the time of our visit. However, now no photography allowed inside the palace.

Address: Dolmabahce Cad, Besiktas
Directions: Take the Zeytinburnu-Findikli-(Besiktas) tram to the Besiktas stop or take bus number 25E or 40.
Phone: 0212 236 90 00

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 16, 2014
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