If you think you’ve seen it all in terms of majesty; splendor and total extravagance, then you well and truly need to visit Dolmabace Palace in Istanbul.
There are many beautiful palaces in the world, and no doubt there are several that are even more dazzling than the Dolmabace Palace. Unfortunately however, not all palaces are open to the public. Even those that are open tend to have certain restrictions in place, and you find you can only see certain areas.
Even the Dolmabace Palace in Istanbul has rules. In this case, visitors are only admitted if they’re accompanied by a guide. In other words, the only way for you to see the inside of this spectacular palace is by means of a guided tour.
The fact of the matter is however, you will actually be glad you had a guide with you because local guides are incredibly knowledgeable regarding the palace and its history.
A Brief History Of Dolmabace Palace In Istanbul
When compared side by side with many other palaces around the world, the Dolmabace Palace in Istanbul is a relatively new palace, having only been built between 1843 and 1856. Interestingly enough, this is partly what makes it so fascinating because most palaces built around this time are far less luxurious.
Sultan Abdulmecid I certainly had a taste for luxury and he was determined to have a palace that met his needs. Having said all that, it should also be mentioned that the palace was more than just a dwelling of extreme grandeur.
Instead, the palace also served as the administrative headquarters for the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and again from 1909 to 1922. In addition to being the administrative headquarters of the Ottoman Empire, the palace also served as a residence to six different Sultans before it was eventually signed over to the National Heritage Department of the Turkish Republic.
The Cost Of Splendor
Any building that occupies an area of 45,000 square meters is going to cost a king’s ransom to build, but when the future owner wants luxury, it’s going to cost even more, and the Dolmabace Palace in Istanbul is a perfect example. In fact, construction of the palace cost around 5 million Ottoman mecidiye gold coins, or should we say, 35 tons of gold.
The sultan also wanted gold ceilings, so a further 14 tons of gold leaf were used to guild them accordingly. The sultan also had a taste for crystal, which needless to say also increased building costs. The extent of his taste for gold and crystal can still be seen when visiting the palace today, and to be truthful, it’s one of the things which keep attracting tourists.
Old Meets New And East Meets West
One of the most enduring, or at least one of the most intriguing aspects of the Dolmabace Palace in Istanbul, is the way in which old and new architecture has been combined, and how traditional Ottoman-era architecture has been blended with European style architecture.
From an architectural point of view, the Dolmabace Palace in Istanbul is best described as being a sort of “fusion” architecture, and it has been accomplished perfectly, in just the right proportions. One of the most noticeable “western” touches is the chandelier which hangs in the ceremonial hall of the palace. A gift from Queen Elizabeth, the chandelier weighs an astonishing 4.5 tons and has a total of 750 light bulbs.
The palace is also home to the world’s largest collection of bohemian and baccarat crystal chandeliers, which once again goes to show just how much the sultan like crystal.
Opening Times And Bookings
The palace is nowadays a state owed museum, and is open to the general public on Tuesdays; Wednesdays and Fridays between 09h00 and 16h00. Only guided tours of the palace are permitted and because of the museum’s popularity and the limited opening hours, advanced booking is recommended.
You can see Dolmabace Palace in Istanbul in all its glory, along with most of the important tourist attractions in Turkey simply by visiting our Egypt and Turkey Tours. If you don’t see a tour package you like, tell us what you want and we’ll create a package specifically for you.