Gardens & Entrance

Circular Crystal Stairs

Apartments of the Queen Mother

Blue Saloon

The room in which Atatürk died 

Pink Saloon


Outer grounds

 Museum contact & visiting information

 Dolmabahce Palace was built in Turkish Renaissance style between 1843 and 1856 in the rapidly growing northern section of Istanbul, by Sultan Abdülmecit I, who found Topkapi Palace old-fashioned. Abdülmecit the first occupant of the palace, lived in his new palace for 15 years. "Dolma" means filled or stuffed and "bahce" means garden in Turkish. The site of Dolmabahce Palace was obtained by filling the small bay right by Istanbul Bogazi (the Bosphorus) on the waterfront, giving the palace its name, with very high walls on the side facing inland. There are nine gates on the inland side, two of which are monumental and highly elaborate, symbolic of the empire’s magnificence and  five gates on the front facing the sea. Heavy ornamentation is dominated by columns, rosettes, oyster shells, strung pearls and in green and gold, is the monogram of Sultan Abdülmecit dated 1853.



This superb palace displays the richness and power the Sultans had. It housed Sultans and their entourages before the Republic, and it was then used by Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, for only 3 months during his visits to Istanbul. Ataturk  actually lived in Ankara, Turkey's capital, but died here at the age of 57 on the 10th of November, 1938 at 9:05 am. This is why every clock you see in Dolmabahce Palace is stopped at 9:05.  So, Dolmabahce also holds a cherished place in the memories of Turks. You can visit his simple, modest bed-room and office, symbolic of a man who lived and died for his country.

 Among other celebrities, the French empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, the Austrian emperor Franz Josef, the German emperor Wilhelm II, the English prince Edward VII, the Persian shah Reza Pahlewi, King Faisal of Iraq and King Emanullah of Afghanistan were guests here. Today, Dolmabahce is a museum under the auspices of the Department of National Palaces of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and serves as a guest-house for foreign statesmen.

 It's architect brothers Garabed and Nikogos Balyan managed to combine the Oriental and Western styles. The lifestyle and needs were Oriental but the plan was taken from European palaces. They also combined various architectural styles forming the eclectic style. Its construction costed five million Ottoman gold pieces, equivalent of 35 tonnes of gold or of about 500 million US Dollars.  Garabet Balian was one of the the best known member in a long line of Armenian architects, nine of whom served under six sultans. The original Balian, Bali Kalfa, came from the Kayseri region of Anatolia. The earlier Balian architects studied European forms and styles through drawings brought from Europe. Later on in 1840s and 1850s, Garabed Balian sent his sons to Europe, where Nigogos, Agop, Sarkis studied architecture in a school in Paris. The knowledge brought back by the sons was first applied in the construction of  Dolmabahce Palace.

When one enters the palace area, the first thing to see is the magnificent palace gardens. The palace was intended to be symmetrical in plan and in decoration which was not something new in Ottoman architecture, however the building was constructed to be seen from the sea and it is this feature which is new and unique in Ottoman architecture. It has an impressive six hundred meter frontage on the Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorus). After having a lovely walk by the Bosphorus, the palace is entered by passing from the dominant green and white gardens, up grey marble staircases through a columned pediment, in all, a very grand entrance. Before one enters into the main palace building, should wear blue nylons over shoes to keep the palace clean.

  Covering an area of 25 hectares/ 62 acres; the palace itself is a three storey building, with two main storeys rising over a half sunken floor. It has 285 rooms, 46 halls,  4 grand salons, 6 galleries, 6 Turkish baths, 6 balconies and approximately 2,700 windows. The Foyer is decorated with matching four-meter tall mirrors on either side, and French flower vases, a gift from the French to Abdulhamit. The main parquet-floored hall is supported by four columns, with columned separations creating smaller lounges on left and right.

  The capitals and vertical lines of the columns are gold-plated. Ceiling spans are separated with ribs, and treated in coloured engravings.  Each of the four corners behind the fireplaces are small rooms,  used on occasion as waiting areas. Fireplace bases are ceramic tile, and the upper portion is cut crystal. On the mantle of each, there is a porcelain vase bearing the monogram of Abdülmecit. The central table is of balsam wood, also bearing the monogram of the Sultan. In the left and right lounges there are tables of Italian style stone. The large vases in front of each lounge are of Turkish ‘Yildiz’ manufacture, each in four parts, with illustrations done by Turkish and French artists. Carpets and upholsters in the hall are of Turkish ‘Hereke’ manufacture. The crystal candelabra on each of the footed tables of the lounges bring the crystal effect into the corners of the Entrance Hall.

Ambassadorial Hall

Ambassador's Hall 

Porphyry Room

 Departing the Entrance Hall, the Crystal Stairway winds up to the upper floor which encompasses the Crystal Stairway Hall, the Ambassador's Hall, the Porphyry Room, the Mecid Efendi's Library and the Panorama Room. The swirl of the stairs, crystal and inlaid floors and the vast vaulted glass dome over-head gives a self-contained unity to this saloon. All of the entry and exit doors from this grand stairway are of mahogany, highlighted with gold. The blue-based vases, and Japanese vases dominate the room. In four corners of the salon, there are floor standing silver based crystal candelabras.  Flower vases of Indian origin, are decorated with lion, horse, and deer relieves, and with colourful raised stones at the top. On the central table there is a musical clock made by artisans in the Shipyard of the Golden Horn, bearing the monogram of Sultan Mahmud II. At the side of each of the doors leading to the Diplomatic Audience Suite are extravagant candelabras of solid silver and ivory, a gift from the Governor of Arabia to Abdühamit II. They serve as a frame for the Chinese porcelain vases between them.

Crystal Stairway Hall


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