Dolmabahce Palace Facts

Facts About Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace facts are as interesting and intriguing as the Palace itself. Located on the shores of the Bosphorus this is the largest palace in Turkey and perhaps one of the most opulent ones as well. Constructed in the mid-19th century during the Ottoman Empire, it served as the administrative centre and residence for Ottoman Sultans and later, Turkish presidents. The Palace was designed by the renowned architect Garabet Balyan and his son, Nigoğayos Balyan. The unique feature of its design is that it seamlessly blends various architectural styles, including Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Ottoman elements.

The sheer magnificence of the Palace is evident in its vast size, adorned with lavish pure gold ornamentation, exquisite marble interiors, and stunning crystal chandeliers. The Palace is home to the world’s largest collection of crystal chandeliers with ceilings that have gold accents for which over 14 tons of gold leaves were used. Some of the most notable features of this Palace include the Crystal Staircase, the Ceremonial Hall with its breathtaking chandelier gifted by Queen Victoria, and the sumptuous Throne Room. Dolmabahçe Palace also bears historical significance, as it witnessed the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey.

Abdülmecid - Commissioned Dolmabahce Palace

Sultan Abdülmecid I commissioned the Dolmabahce Palace for his personal use as he felt that his previous residence was not modern or luxurious enough. He wished to have a palace that embodied the modern luxuries that European palaces of the time had. He wanted a grand and opulent palace and was quite fussy about the design and construction of the palace. The gilded ceilings and gold accents were made with over 14 tons of gold leaves. Quite a lot of gold and crystals were used to build this opulent palace which almost rendered the Sultan bankrupt.

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Dolmabahce Palace- A 13-Year Construction

It took 13 years to build this large and ornamentally opulent Palace. The Dolmabahce Palace was built on the place where the Besiktas Coastal Palace was. The Sultan felt that the old palace did not serve its purpose anymore hence he had it torn down. Plans for building the Dolmabahce Palace began and the construction process started on 13th June 1843. The main designers and architects of the Palace were the father-son duo - Garabet and Nigoğayos Balyan. Hacı Said Ağa took care of the construction part of the Palace. The Palace was finally up for use on 7th June 1856.

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A Costly Endeavour- Five Million Ottoman Gold Lira

Another one of Dolmabahce Palace's facts is that the construction of the Palace was a costly affair that nearly drove the Ottoman Empire bankrupt. The cost of construction was 5 million Ottoman lira which amounts to 35 tonnes of gold which accounts for about one-fourth of tax collected annually. It is to be noted that all this was built using funding through foreign loans, debasement and massive paper money printing. The foreign loans contributed largely to the financially failing Ottoman Empire. This led to the Empire defaulting on its public debt in 1875.

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Turkey's Largest Palace- Dolmabahce

One of the biggest Dolmabahce Palace facts is that it is the largest palace in all of Turkey and most likely one of the most opulent. The total area of the Palace is spread across 45,000 square metres and flanked by opulent gardens. There are a total of 285 rooms in the Palace along with 65 toilets, 6 baths or hammams and 46 elaborately designed halls. The entire structure is divided into 16 sections and each of these sections has buildings that are designated with specific functions. There are the palace stables, mills, kitchens, aviaries, pharmacy, foundry, the glass shop and the patisserie. 

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The Ottoman Empire's Administrative Hub

Dolmabahce Palace was a cornerstone of the Ottoman administration. It served as the residence and administrative centre for six Ottoman sultans until the abolition of the caliphate. Its halls witnessed the deliberations and decrees that shaped the empire's destiny. Notably, Sultan Abdülmecid Efendi, the last royal resident of Dolmabahce, resided here until his deposition in 1876. The palace's opulent chambers hosted state affairs, diplomatic receptions, and ceremonial functions, reflecting the empire's power and prestige. With its strategic location on the Bosphorus, Dolmabahce Palace stood as a symbol of Ottoman authority, blending Eastern heritage with Western sophistication in its architectural splendour.

World's Largest Collection of Crystal Chandeliers

One of the most opulent Dolmabahce Palace facts is that the Palace boasts the world's largest collection of crystal chandeliers. The largest of these being the Bohemian Chandelier which is in the Ceremonial Hall. These exquisite chandeliers have been sourced from renowned European manufacturers and they adorn the Palace's grand halls and salons. Each chandelier is a testament to the palace's unparalleled luxury and the Ottoman Empire's pursuit of elegance and sophistication. Visitors marvel at the sheer beauty and grandeur of these sparkling treasures, adding to the palace's status as a cultural gem of Istanbul.

A Palace to Conceal Ottoman Empire's Decline

The construction of the Dolmabahce Palace is the Ottoman Empire's attempt to conceal its decline during the 19th century. It was commissioned during a time of high political and economic challenges. Its opulence aimed to project power and prestige, both domestically and internationally. The extravagant construction and lavish interiors were strategic displays of wealth and authority, masking underlying difficulties. Despite its grandeur, Dolmabahce couldn't halt the Ottoman Empire's decline, serving instead as a symbol of the struggle to maintain relevance in a changing world. Its history reflects the Empire's efforts to preserve its image amidst the pressures of modernization and geopolitical shifts.

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Home to the World's Largest Bohemian Chandelier

The Ceremonial Hall of the Dolmabahce Palace is home to the world’s largest Bohemian Chandelier. This exquisite piece of art was thought to be a gift from Queen Victoria of England. However, in 2006 a receipt was discovered which shows that the price of the chandelier was paid in full. This amazing chandelier weighs a majestic 4.5 tons and it is made up of 10,000 crystals and 750 lamps to illuminate its magnificence. It is 26 feet in diameter and 36 feet in height and it had to be assembled in the Palace itself, making it the world’s largest crystal chandelier. 

Presidential Residence since 1924

The 1920s brought about the end of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey was born. Its founder and the first President of Turkey turned this opulent Palace into a presidential residence in 1924 and proclaimed it as a national heritage. The first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk used the Palace as a summer retreat whenever he was in Istanbul. He also lived his last days here till his death on 10 November 1938. An interesting Dolmabahce Palace fact is that all the clocks in the Palace were stopped at 9:05 am the time of his death.

FAQs for Dolmabahce Palace

What is the Dolmabahce Palace?

The Dolmabahce Palace is famous for its opulence and gilded ceiling with gold leaves. It is home to the world’s largest collection of crystal chandeliers and also the abode of the world’s largest Bohemian Crystal Chandelier. It was famous as the seat of power and administration of the Ottoman Empire up until its downfall in the 1920s. It is also famous as the first Presidential home of the Republic of Turkey and the place where the first President of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, took his last breath.

What is the most famous feature of the Dolmabahce Palace?

The most famous feature of the Dolmabahce Palace is undoubtedly the Crystal Staircase. This spectacular masterpiece is made of Baccarat crystals and brass with beautiful floral motifs that appear 3D in shape. It is shaped like a double horseshoe and it is located right in the centre of the Palace. The finest crystals were used to build this spectacular staircase. The most compelling Dolmabahce Palace fact is that it is so transparent that you can see right through it. 

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What are the visiting hours for the Dolmabahce Palace?

The Dolmabahce Palace is open for visitors every day except for Mondays and Thursdays. The visiting hours are from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and the last admission is at 3:00 pm.

How long does it take to tour the Dolmabahce Palace?

The time required to tour the Dolmabahce Palace varies depending on the visitor's interest and pace. However, it generally takes around 2-3 hours to see all the main sections of the palace.

Is photography allowed inside the Dolmabahce Palace?

Photography is strictly prohibited inside the palace, and visitors are not allowed to take pictures or videos of the interior. However, visitors can take photos in the palace's gardens and outdoor areas.

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What are some of the interesting facts of Dolmabahce Palace?

Some of the most interesting Dolmabahce Palace facts are that the Palace is the largest in Turkey and it is home to the world’s largest Bohemian Chandelier. The Crystal Staircase in the Palace is an architectural wonder made up of Baccarat crystals and brass. The Palace’s design is a spectacular blend of Ottoman, French Baroque, Neoclassical, German Rococo and Byzantine architecture. 

What are the Dolmabahce Palace opening hours?

The opening hours of the Dolmabahce Palace are from 9 am to 4 pm every day except on Monday and Thursday. The last entry to the Palace is at 3 pm, so plan your visit accordingly.

What is the best month to visit Dolmabahce Palace?

The best months to visit Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul are spring from April to June or autumn between September to November. These months offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and clear skies. These conditions are perfect for exploring the palace's magnificent interiors and lush gardens without the discomfort of extreme temperatures or overcrowding.

How to reach Dolmabahce Palace?

To reach the Dolmabahce Palace you can board a water taxi along the Bosphorus from the cruise terminal which is just 3 km away. You can also take the tram to Kabatas which is the closest station to the Palace. From the station, it is a 10-minute walk to the Palace. The convenient way would be to hire a taxi which will take you straight up to the entrance of the Palace. 


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