My final day in Istanbul I visited the Dolmabahçe (pronounced dole-ma-ba-che) Palace, the residence of the sultans from 1856 until the end of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. The Topkapi Palace, shown in an earlier post, was the sultan’s residence for 400 years prior to the construction of this palace.
Dolmabahçe is one of the world’s greatest palaces. Out of the many built by the Ottomans, this is the first to be built in a Western style. It has well over 200 rooms and a massive, 10,000 pound chandelier of pure English crystal, the largest in the world. There are 2 grand staircases – made entirely of gold and crystal – that form the center of the Palace. This is also where Atatürk, the first president of Turkey and the harbinger of all the social reforms that transformed Turkey into a secular, democratic state, died. As such, this place holds a very special place in Turkey’s history and weighs heavily on the national psyche. You can’t hardly walk out the door without seeing signs or posters of the Atatürk and the many social reforms he made from Dolmabahçe Palace.
The site was amazing. I can imagine how even more awesome if would have been 200 years ago, reclining in a golden chair watching the sun set over the Bosphorus.
The outer watchtower
Ottoman mosque viewed from the entrance to Domabahçe Palace
The outer gate
Side view of the gate. You can see a sliver of the Bosphorus and Asia in the bottom right.
A guard stands outside the Palace all day, much like Buckingham Palace in London. However, no one lives in Dolmabahçe Palace any more.
Being right on the Bosphorus, the Ottoman rulers who lived here had amazing views of the blue highway and Asia across the water.
More great views
Modern Turkey meets the classic Ottoman Empire - skyscraper + palace
In front of the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul
Another view of me in front of the side gate
Soldiers march around Dolmabahçe at all times. Even though no one lives here and it is a musuem, the palace plays a large role in the national psyche.
Cameras are not allowed in the Palace, so I took these next 3 pictures from online to show you guys what I saw. This is where the first president and last resident of Dolmabahçe Palace, the Atatürk, died. He is greatly loved around Turkey - many old buildings have commemorative plauques to when he visited and his posters are all around Istanbul.
The exquisite Ambassador's Hall. This room was only used to walk through with the foreign ambassadors. All of the actual business was conduted in side rooms, so this was just to sort of show off Ottoman wealth and sensibility to foreign ministers.
The Ceremonial Hall. This is the largest crystal chandellier in the world, weighing slightly about 10,000 pounds of pure English crystal. This room is still occasionaly used for cermonies, such as when Turkey recently hosted the NATO conference.