Dolmabahçe Palace served as the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887, and again from 1909 until the end of the caliphate in 1924. It was constructed on landfill (the name means ‘filled-up garden’) and took thirteen years to complete. In the early years of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk used the palace as his summer residence. He died here in 1938. The room is still in the same condition it was in when he passed, and the clocks forever rest on his time of death.
The palace boasts a unique architectural style. The baroque and neoclassical European influence seamlessly blends with the traditional Ottoman style. The result is magnificent. The palace is split up into three sections: one part for men, one part for the harem, and the ceremonial hall. Some highlights include the Crystal Staircase, with a Baccarat Crystal balustrade and matching chandelier. The cavernous ceremonial hall is adorned with frescoes and a gigantic and ornate chandelier.
The only way inside the palace is with a tour, which is offered in Turkish and English. The groups can get pretty big, so get a private tour guide if possible. The interior is sumptuously decorated, and the surrounding gardens are beautiful. While the palace is definitely an interesting visit, the queues can get very long and getting in may be more trouble than it’s worth.
Hours: Open 09:00-16:00; closed Monday and Thursday
Admission: Admission charge.