Dolmabahçe Palace Overview

Regionally greeted as Dolmabahçe Sarayı, Dolmabahce Palace is a luxuriant villa in Istanbul positioned along the picturesque European shore of the Bosphorus Strait. This majestic imperial villa is the true emblem of Ottoman architectural fascination that is praised as the most expensive mansion in the world ($1.5 billion in current estimation).

Certainly, the most attractive sites to visit in Istanbul, Dolmabahce Palace proudly flaunts its ancient glory through the structural finishing ornamented with a myriad of expensive gemstones, gold, and everything vibrant that add charm to each nook and crack of the building. Immerse yourself in this opulent historical gem as part of your Turkey holiday packages, where each intricate detail tells a story of a bygone era, creating an unforgettable experience in the heart of Istanbul.

Situated between Harem and Mabeyn Muayede, Dolmabahce Palace formerly operated as the prime administrative office of the Ottoman kingdom. The palace was commissioned by Empire's 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid and modeled by architects Garabet Balyan along with his son Evanis Kalfa and Nigoğayos Balyan.

Established between the years 1843 and 1856 (13 years of craftsmanship), Dolmabahçe Palace owns three symmetrically projected floors incorporating 285 cabins, 44 galleries, 68 toilets, and 6 Turkish baths. The central decoration is exclusively dripped in lavishness through the influx of extremely high-priced Doma furnishings, artifacts, and other varieties of ornamental pieces that assuredly transmit the visitors in an awestruck state of mind, all credit goes to French artist M.Sechan.

The name of the palace "Dolmabahce" itself implies ‘filled-in garden’ and that completely makes sense when one realizes the inside and the outside sections of the mansion are beautified with innumerable diverse flowers, approached by the profound Italian artists of the time.

The blissful charm of the whole inside-outside panorama of the palace is waiting to astonish your eyes and soul with the most breath-taking vistas that seem to transcend beyond the evanescent realm.

How To Reach


Reaching Dolmabahçe Palace from Istanbul Airport is quite easy as the taxis are directly accessible from the air hub. It only takes around less or 36 minutes to reach the destination. The total distance is 42.9 km via the D020 route.

Towncar/ Shuttle:
Visitors can also book uber or Towncar or also can hire a shuttle that too takes less than 40 minutes to reach the Dolmabahçe Palace. The distance is approximately  51.5 km.

Best Time To Visit


Tourists can pay a visit to Dolmabahçe Palace throughout the whole year. Nevertheless, summer is the ideal time according to Istanbul Tourism as the temperature of the whole region lingers between 18 Degrees to 35 degrees (from March to May) and the weather remains temperate under a cloudless blue sky.

It is best to avoid monsoons (Jul-Aug) and winters (Dec-Feb) as the climatic status undergoes extreme rainfall and unrelenting cold respectively, both conditions are unfavorable to admire the floral ornament of the exterior arrangement of the palace and the botanical property that impels the radiant garden.

Autumn time (Sept-Nov) is an off tourist-season but a clever time to visit Dolmabahçe Palace as visitors are less in the crown and people do not have to wait in long queues for too long. 

Best Hour to Visit In A Day:
The entire duration of visiting Dolmabahce palace requires a minimum of 2 hours. The peak-hours to visit the place is from 10 am to 2 pm.

Other Essential Information

Dolmabahce Palace is located European shore of the Bosphorus Strait, between Beşiktaş and Kabataş, two states of Istanbul.

Distance from Istanbul Airport:
From Istanbul Airport, Dolmabahce Palace is 32.5 km away. Taxis and cabs are easily accessible from the airport that only takes 36minutes to reach the destination. 

Photography allowance:
Photography is strictly prohibited inside the palace.

- Tues-Wed: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
- Fri-Sun: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
- The palace is kept closed on Mondays and Thursdays.

History of Dolmabahçe Palace

Bosphorus Strait was formerly a humble bay which was employed by the Ottoman Navy Squad as a regular deck for anchoring their ships. The course of the bay pass-through between the two districts of Istanbul, Besiktas, and Kabatas.

With the passing of the 17th century, the shoreline gradually transformed into a delightful garden with several outbuildings identified as Besiktas Waterfront Palace complex where the ottoman emperors used to unwind and lounge while relishing the views of the charming bay. 

In the time, the Sultans used to possess innumerable castles and mansions since they prefer dwelling in superior luxury and pleasure. Topkapı Palace used to be the best of all and considered to be the chief palace where Sultan and his family had savored their life.

But with the course of time, Topkapı began lacking in modern style, extravagance, and comfort, as opposed to the mansions of the European rulers. Therefore, in 1843 sultan Abdülmecid I commanded to establish a modern palace that is Dolmabahçe Palace, adjacent to the former Beşiktaş Sahil Palace.

It took the august architects, Garabet and Nikogos Balyan 13 years to complete the building project in 1856. With the inauguration of Dolmabahçe Palace, Topkapi was evacuated. From 1856, Dolmabahçe Palace became the royal residence of all subsequent Ottoman Sultans, except for Abdülhamid II (1876-1909) who chose solitude living in Yıldız Palace.

After the demise of Abdulmecid, Dolmabahce started to be treated as the winter residence (Beylerbeyi Palace was the summer residence) by the imperial family and Mehmed V. From 1856, the palace was inhabited by the six royal generations until the eradication of the Caliphate in 1924 (Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi was the last Ottoman emperor).

The ownership of the palace was assigned to the national endowment of the brand-new Turkish Republic on March 3, 1924, according to the sanctioned law of War of Liberation. The Parliament planned to manage Dolmabahce as an official palace thus Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, used the place as his dwelling.

He spent his latter days under critical medical surveillance and died on November 10, 1938. In 1952, Dolmabahce Palace was converted into a museum and Now, the mansion is administered by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey under the supervision of Milli Saraylar Daire Başkanlığı, Directorate of National Palaces.

The Architecture of Dolmabahçe Palace

The five generations of the Baliyan family were leading palace planners of the Ottoman Empire, in Constantinople (now Istanbul). And traditionally, the architecture plan of Dolmabahçe Palace was executed by Garabet Balyan and his sons. While the architecture plan was projected by Baliyans, the responsibilities of the construction were assigned to Hacı Said Ağa.

The construction of the entire Dolmabahçe Palace architecture is worth 5 million Ottoman gold lira (thirty-five tonnes of gold). More than 110,000 square meters of construction took place on 250,000 square meters of land. This awe-inspiring palace includes three principal divisions: Selamlik or Mabeyn-i Hümayun (Administrative quarters), Muayede Salonu (Ceremonial Hall) and Harem-i Hümayun ( Imperial Harem).

The Grand Ceremonial Hall was constructed in the middle of the other two divisions, where the emperor served hospitality to his honored visitors and foreign officials. Mabeyn-i Hümâyûn is in the southern wing, booked for the men, and includes the common representation quarters and the northern wing is Harem-i Hümâyûn that is a private domestic expanse for the Sultan and his household.

The harem section comprises eight interrelated quarters for the women of the sultan, for his mistresses and concubines, and his mother, every chamber comes with its individual lavatory. The palace has a total of 285 cabins, 44 galleries, 68 toilets, and 6 Turkish baths. 

The design of the Dolmabahçe Palace structure embraces the euphuistic amalgam of architectural styles- Rococo, Neoclassical, Baroque, and modern Ottoman. This innovative synthesis of various classical Ottoman customs broadens the path to embrace exceptional ideas while outlining the interior decoration of the palace.

The palace organization and furnishing exhibit the dominant magnetism of European customs and emblems on Ottoman heritage and history during the Tanzimat era. The exterior individually noted for the picturesque view of Bosporus and it also bestows a traditional European two-wing classification that is apportioned by a prominent Avant-Corps.

Amazing Facts about the Dolmabahçe Palace

1. About Interior Decoration
The splendid charisma of Dolmabahce Palace's  Interior Decoration conveys through hundreds of unusual facts that are extremely surprising. The Most Amazing Facts ate-

- 14 tons of gold had been used while ornamenting the mansion ceiling with gold leaves adornments.

The palace introduces a vast collection of Hereke castle carpetings and 131 handcrafted silk carpets were requested to be embroidered in Hereke Imperial Factory. The collection of rugs also features a 150-year-old authentic bearskin rug which was basically conferred to the Sultan as a tribute from Tsar Nicholas I.

Medhal hall has a crystal staircase namely banisters that are originally made of pure crystals.

Dolmabahçe has the greatest collection of Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world and the Bohemian crystal chandelier that can be sought in the Ceremonial Hall is the largest chandelier in the world. This largest chandelier was presented by Queen Victoria of England and the purpose was to flaunt her wealth.

The largest Bohemian crystal chandelier of Dolmabahce Palace weighs 4.5 tons and consists of 750 bulbs.

The palace owns over 600 oil paintings.

2. Technical standards
From the very first place, Dolmabahce Palace was established with the most advanced technical standards of the time. The whole palace was equipped with advanced amenities.

The sultans imported Gaslighting and water-closets from Great Britain, while the other royal villas in continental Europe were not met with such facilities. In the following years, electricity, a conventional heating machine, and an escalator were also established.

3. Reason For the Downfall of the Ottoman Empire
The total estimated value of palace construction almost bankrupted the ottoman empire. The foundation of the entire Dolmabahçe Palace architecture is worth 5 million Ottoman gold lira (thirty-five tonnes of gold) which is equivalent to $1.5 billion in today's (2013) conditions.

Another shocking fact is this total expenditure is epistolized to about a quarter of the annual taxation. This enormous budget ultimately became the sole reason for the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. According to the prevailing sources, the foundation was funded through perversion through the huge upshot of paper currency along with foreign credits.

The tremendous investments allocated a huge burden on the nation pocket and caused extreme consumption of economic status of the Ottoman Empire, which ultimately brought doom to the kingdom as it defaulted on the federal claim in October 1875, with the succeeding verification in 1881 of monetary charge over the "sick man of Europe" by the customary laws of Europe.

4. Extraordinary Facts About Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the founder of the Republic of Turkey and also the new owner of the Dolmabahce Palace. Instead of going for grand and lavish bedrooms, this noble leader chose a basic chamber of the palace as his bedroom in the palace. 

When Mustafa Kemal Ataturk died in his chamber, all clocks of the room were stopped and set to 9:05 am as a pause in memory.

Tips on visiting Dolmabahçe Palace

Be Sure About the Visiting Hours as the palace remains closed on every Monday and Thursday and the visiting hour is from 9 am to 4 pm. The palace can be kept closed during religious holidays and official holidays without prior notice. 

Please also note that entry charges, opening times or dates of closing of the museums could be modified without prior notification, or that palace might be shut for refurbishments. To be sure of the closing days or opening hours, you can directly contact the palace authority (country code for Turkey is +90). 

Book Your Tickets in Advance to Enjoy Hassle-free Excursion. Per day visitors to Dolmabahce Palace have been limited up to 3,000 and the ticket department may be shut earlier due to the attainment of the everyday ticket quota. 

Make sure you get your tickets booked in advance through your travel agent. Tickets can be a bit expensive but are worth the price, both the Harem and the Selamik individually cost 20 lire/head. (Children under Six can have free access).

You will not be permitted to have a tour of the privileged sections of the palace on your own. You have to wait until your scheduled tours come to the program. Your tour will be treated distinctly for the harem and selamlik sections by the tour guides. 

Have a prior knowledge about the history of the Ottoman Empire and special features about the palace so that you can relish the most out of your single tour and appreciate every single aspect of the palace better.
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Dolmabahçe Palace FAQs

How long does it take to visit Dolmabahce?

If you are visiting Dolmabahce Palace during the peak season (summer), due to surpassing the crowd, your entire journey inside the palace can take one hour or more. But in the case of the muffled crowd (during off-season such as Sept-Oct), your tour interval will take 20-45 Minutes.

What does Dolmabahce mean?

In the Turkish language, "Dolma '' means flowers and the term "Bahce '' implies a garden. The entire word "Dolmabahce" suggests "Flower-filled Garden ''. The concept makes sense as the interior and exterior design of the palace is decorated by a diverse variety of flowers on the unique suggestion of Italian interior designs of the time. Moreover, the garden complex of the palace is lushed with botanical ranch and floral plantation that further refines the compositional wonder of the palace.

Who lived in Dolmabahce Palace?

From 1856, Dolmabahçe Palace became the royal residence of all subsequent Ottoman Sultan. After the demise of Abdulmecid, Dolmabahce started to be treated as the winter residence (Beylerbeyi Palace was the summer residence) by the imperial family and Mehmed V. From 1856, the palace was inhabited by the six royal generations until the eradication of the Caliphate in 1924 (Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi was the last Ottoman emperor). After the downfall of the royal dominion, Dolmabahce Palace became the official habitation of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey.

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