/ The Istanbul Guide
Istanbul — By inka on May 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm
Filed under: istanbul history, istanbul palaces

End of the Ottomans: Dolmabahce Palace Bears Witness

It is a strange feeling when you stand in the hall of Dolmabahce Palace (map) and just gape at the extravaganza of the world’s biggest crystal chandelier and a double horseshoe staircase with banisters made of Baccarat crystal and then think about the history which lies behind this last of the Ottoman palaces.

Topkapi palace wasn’t good enough any more for the 31st sultan, Abdülmecid I, because it lacked modern comforts and amenities. Hence he decided to have a new palace built right on the Bosporus and the work was carried out at immense expense and with the help of huge European loans between 1843 and 1856. From 1856 to 1922 the palace became the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and somehow also a symbol for its end.

The mono-block building has a lot of superlatives. It’s the largest palace in Turkey with over 300 rooms and covering i a floor space of 45.000 sqm.

Entrance to Dolmabahce Palace

It has the biggest chandelier, which was a gift from Queen Victoria. It combines elements of Baroque, Rococo, and Neo classical styles with traditional Ottoman elements and symbols and the emphasis is decidedly on gold and crystal.

Can you imagine that 14 tons (!) of gold in the form of gold leaf was used to gild the ceilings alone?

After the Ottoman Empire came to an end, the founder of the Turkish Republic, Atatürk,  who chose Ankara as the new capital, nevertheless spent the last days of his life in Dolmabahce palace where he received medical treatment until his death on November 10th 1938 at exactly 9.05 am.

The clock in his bedroom remains stopped at the hour and minute of his death. Wonderful and lavish gardens surround the palace which border on the waters of the Bosporus.

Clock tower Dolmabahce Palace

It’s a must see landmark in Istanbul because of its history and the incredible details and luxuries contained within.

How to get there

The palace is located on the Bosporus in the district of Dolmabahce. I take the streetcar from Zeytinburnu to its last stop Kabatas and walk about 10 minutes along the broad and tree lined Dolmabahce Caddesi. It’s a very pleasant walk, the pavements are wide and you get glimpses of the water between several splendid buildings and gardens.

The palace is a museum and the opening times are from 9am to 4pm. Mondays and Thursday it’s closed. Whilst you can walk around Topkapi Palace on your own, the inside of Dolmabahce Palace can only be seen with a guided tour. Admission is approximately $3.

Photographs are authors own.

Related places:
  1. A
    Dolmabah?e Sarayi
    Istanbul 34357, Turkey
    View Details and Book
Tags: istanbul history, istanbul palaces

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