Istanbul is one of those cities with many historical places to visit. After a few months doing nothing touristy around the city, we decided to get to know one of the palaces we still hadn’t explored: Dolmabahçe.
Some interesting facts
Dolmabahçe was built in a 10 year period under the orders of Sultan Abdulmecit I in 1843. The area where it was built is 1500 square metres and its facade is 600 metres. These dimensions allow the palace to have 285 rooms and 27000 windows but also 6 Turkish baths (hammam); for sure it’s a great palace.
The palace was at the same time the official reception place and the family home (harem). Sultan Abdulmecit I was the first one to live there, but after his death, other sultans followed his path Abdulaziz I, Murad V, Abdul Hamid II, Mehmed V y Mehmed VI. With the ending of the caliphate in 1922 sultans stopped governing and in their place Mustafa Kemal Atatürk claimed the Turkish Republic, for a period of time lived in the palace and on November 10th, 1938 at 9:05am died in one of Dolmabahçe’s rooms.
Although after Atatürk’s death some receptions were held at the palace, it was closed as a government building and became the museum that it is today.
The most important things you need to know before entering is that visiting Selamlik (governmental area) and the Harem (family area) are guided and in groups (price is included in the ticket), the Clock Museum and the Crystal Palace don’t have a guide and you can go by yourself. For the indoor buildings, all of them except the gardens, it is necessary to cover your shoes to protect the carpets.
Taking pictures it is forbidden!!! What?? How are we going to show what we saw? Well, we will have to do it somehow.
The palace area combines multiple architectonic styles: from westerners (Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical) to traditional Ottoman style; it is divided, as we said, in for areas: Selamlik, Harem, Clock Museum and Crystal Palace.
This is the grandest area of all as it was the palace shown to international ambassadors that would visit the palace. You will find an area exhibiting objects of the time in different materials (crystal, porcelain and some metals); the imposing crystal staircase from which ambassadors ascend to meet for the first time face to face with the sultan, or an English crystal chandelier that weighs more than 4 tons in the Throne Room and a Turkish bath with natural lighting.
The private rooms of the sultan and his family are, in comparison, simpler than the official ones, although this doesn’t mean simple. Here beside the furniture from the caliphate era, you will find the private rooms of the sultan, the queen mother and the sultan’s wives and children; and also 5 of 6 Turkish baths we mentioned before.
This is the simplest area, you only have to see one room: the glass house with a view of the garden and the peacocks.
We skipped the Clock Museum and wandered around the gardens, looking at the doors open to the Bosphorus, that straight that makes Istanbul a city divided into two continents.
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