Dolmabahce Palace is also a magnificent one located just by the Bosphorus in Besiktas, Istanbul. It was the residence of the last Ottoman Sultans. The Auction Hall is the most important part of the palace.
- Dolmabahçe Palace is decorated with Sèvres vases, Lyon silk, Baccarat crystals and British candelabras.
- Sultan Abdülaziz’s son, Abdülmecid’s oil canvases can be seen on the walls of the palace. The Caliph painted mostly his daughter Dürrül fiahvar. The Palace also houses a painting of Queen Victoria.
- As you walk in the Blue and Pink Halls of the Ceremonial Hall and the Harem, and if there aren’t too many people, you will hear a very nice sound. It is the sound of giant crystal chandeliers shaking with the breeze and with the vibration that your footsteps cause.
- In the Selamlik office, the large oil paintings and armchairs are remarkable. Do not miss the elaborate ceiling of the Sultan’s Chamber in the Harem and the stunning decoration of the Ceremonial Hall.
- Watch for the precious watches of the palace. These symbolize the race between European industry and Ahl-i Hiref handcrafts.
- The Selamlik department showcases the mastery in cut glass and mirrors of the day with its crystal chandeliers. There are also, of course, the gardens and the gates. Especially the gates represent the finest examples of metal crafting.
Architeture and Interior Design
Dolmabahce Palace was built by Sultan Abdulmecit in 1853 on the banks of Bosphorus. The white marble palace has an architecture of basic European baroque style with oriental touches. The interior is lavishly decorated in a manner reflecting the grandeur of the epoch.
Dolmabahce palace has lots of everything. 50,000 objects in the hundreds of rooms of Dolmabahce were brought from the West, in a manner appropriate to the Ottomans.
Dolmabahçe has everything that Topkapi Palace does not. Founded at the orders of Sultan Abdülmecit, Dolmabahçe Palace soon started to impact upon people’s daily lives and products. Paris and London were the beacons of innovation, whereas the Grand Bazaar symbolized tradition.
Dolmabahçe was based upon this fact. Built in a mixture of architectural trends, the Palace is surrounded by high walls except for the seaside. The walls have two main and seven secondary gates, and the seaside has five ports. The theatre of the Palace was opened with a program that began with Luigi Ricci’s ‘Scaramuccia’ opera played by Naum Theatre Company and ended with ‘Chasse de Diane’ ballet. When the first Turkish plays were written, they were also staged here. It is a European style palace in all senses. Dolmabahçe’s architect was Garabet Kalfa of the Balyan Family. The palace has 45,000 square metres of available space, 285 rooms, 46 halls, six hamams, 68 toilets and 4,454 square metres of carpets.
Palace of Firsts
Many things were done for the first time in Dolmabahçe: Very complex stairs, the finest examples of woodwork, plain glass technology, modern, tall, unstained windows, a heating system… the Harem was designed like an apartment building. Halls for the foreign rulers and princes were designed, such as the ‘Ceremonial Hall’ or the ‘Ambassadors Hall’, which were non-existent in Topkapi Palace. Other novelties included wardrobes, tables and chairs. It might even be the case that the palace was the first in Istanbul to have coffee tables. You should be able to recognize the symbols of a new lifestyle at the palace now.
Plain Colorless Glasses
“Glass” is what amazes the visitors of Dolmabahçe. You cannot take your eyes off the shimmering crystal. But you also cannot see any stained glass windows. Here is another discovery! Remember the Light at the Top in Topkapi Palace and little pieces of colored glass? But then the Industrial Revolution produced glass in the size 50×50, and modern windows used plain glass. Hence the Dolmabahçe Palace does not have a single stained glass window.
Any season must feel like a dream in a pavilion made of glass. The Glass Kiosk is one of the most important sections of the Palace. It is a gallery of virtually every known application of glass technology of the day. Sultans used to watch processions from the Glass Kiosk, so it corresponds to the Procession Kiosk of the Ottoman court organization. The centre hall of the kiosk is decorated in the Ottoman style.
The most important discovery you can make is the Gaveau piano – made of crystal! A very specific example of the glass art of the last century, the piano has a chair made of crystal as well.
Giant chandelier with 750 lamps
Germans and Czechoslovakians prepared special glass works for the Palace. There are 52 crystal and 30 bronze chandeliers, 142 ceiling hangers and 60 crystal candelabras. The greatest are in the Ceremonial Hall.
The hall is illuminated with candelabras made of marble and crystal standing on each corner of the room, silver candelabras standing across each other, and the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier that weighs 4.5 tones.
A gift from Queen Victoria, the chandelier has 750 lamps. At first it was used with candles, then gas, and then electricity. This giant crystal chandelier was ordered from England because the new Palace had no Light at the Top as Topkapi Palace. The light was replaced with imported chandeliers and other various lighting instruments.
The palace can be visited every day except Monday and Thursday between 9am and 4pm.
A reservation is required. You can call to make a reservation every weekday between 9am and 8pm. Same-day reservations are not taken.
Tel: 0212-236 90 00