A different look at the Ottomans – Guided Istanbul tours
The Palace of Dolmabahce, completed in 1856, is the third largest Ottoman palace in Istanbul and the last one built by the Sultans. Located on and offering great views of the Bosphorus, this amazing palace is poles apart from the other Ottoman palace – Topkapi. It is a great place to offer a more modern yet historic view of Turkey. Dolmabahce Palace is simply beautiful. It is very European and grand. It can easily be your favourite destination in the guided Istanbul tours and in your top list for Istanbul sightseeings.
During the six hundred years of Ottoman rule, the seat of the empire changed several times. Fist it was Bursa then Edirne and later to Istanbul. The site of the imperial ‘palace’, centre of Ottoman government, changed also over the centuries in Istanbul itself. Dolmabahce Palace was built between 1843 and 1856. It hosted some sultans as the main administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922; apart from 1889-1909 interval in which the Yildiz Palace was used. Up until the mid-19th century, Topkapi Palace used to be the residence for the sultans. It is still bearing the medieval lifestyle and thus not meeting the mundane needs. Dolmabahce Palace, in that respect, is part of the modernization attempt of the Royal family in architectural terms.
Ottoman Empire was known as ‘the sick man’
At a time of economic reform, when the Ottoman Empire was known as ‘the sick man’. It was increasingly falling under the financial control of the European powers. And also Ottomans had lost territory in a series of disastrous wars. Sultan Abdulmecid II spent millions on a palace that would give the illusion of prosperity and progressiveness.
Until the 17th century the area where Dolmabahce Palace stands today was a natural harbour, a bay, where the navy anchored in the early periods. When the Ottomans conquered Istanbul, the bay was gradually filled in and became one of the imperial parks on the Bosphorus. It is known as Dolmabahce, meaning “filled garden”. A series of imperial mansions and pavillions were built there, eventually growing into a palace complex known as Besiktas Waterfront Palace. This palace was demolished in 1843, and Dolmabahce palace (as we see it today on guided Istanbul tours) was built in its place. Extending for almost 8 km on a tract of landfill on the shores of the Bosphorus. This imperial structure was built by the Armenian architect Garabet Balyan. Balyan used Western architectural techniques and designs. However, he did not disregard traditional Ottoman elements.
A magnificent building to make your private guided tours Istanbul an experience to remember
Sultan Abdulmecid II spared no expense in creating a house to rival the most opulent palaces of France. The result is a magnificent building consisting of 285 rooms, four grand salons, six galleries, five main staircases, six hamams and 43 toilets. Dolmabahce palace is composed of three parts: the Mabeyn-i Hümâyûn (or Selamlik, the quarters reserved for the men), Muayede Salonu (the ceremonial halls) and the Harem-i Hümayun (the Harem, the apartments of the family of the Sultan). The main features are its gates, Waterfront facade, Ceremonial Hall, Harem, State Rooms, Ataturk rooms, Crystal staircase, Sultan’s bathrooms, Clock Tower and Gardens.
Dolmabahce palace has an area of 45,000 m2. An incredible fourteen tonnes of gold leaf was used in the construction of the Palace. It is a glittering collection of Baccarat, Bohemian, and English crystal as well as Venetian glass, which was used in the construction of walls, roofs, banisters, and even a crystal piano. There is the world’s largest crystal chandelier, weighing 4.5 tonnes in Dolmabahce – a present from Queen Victoria. The extravagant collection of objects d’art represents just a small percentage of items presented to the occupants of the palace over the years, and much of the collection is stored in the basement awaiting restoration.