Dolmabahçe Palace

Location: Dolmabahce Cad, Besiktas, Istanbul Map

Constructed: 1843- 56
Used: 1856- 1922
Tel. +90 (212) 236 9000
(212) 327 2626
Bus: 25E, 40
Open: Mar- Sep: 9am- 4pm Tue, Wed & Fri- Sun
Oct- Feb: 9am- 3pm Tue, Wed & Fri- Sun


Dolmabahçe Palace is an Ottoman palace located in Beşiktaş, Istanbul, between Dolmabahçe Street extending from Kabataş to Beşiktaş and the Bosphorus, on an area of 250,000 m². It is located on the left bank at the sea entrance to the Bosphorus from the Marmara Sea, opposite Üsküdar and Kuzguncuk. The construction of the palace, built by Sultan Abdülmecid, started in 1843 and was completed in 1856. Today it is used as a museum.



The area where Dolmabahçe Palace is located today was a large bay on the Bosphorus where the Ottoman Admiral's ships anchored until four centuries ago. This bay, where traditional maritime ceremonies were held, became a swamp over time. The bay, which started to be filled in the 17th century, was turned into a "hasbahçe" (hadayik-hassâ) for the rest and entertainment of the sultans. The collection of mansions and pavilions built in this garden in various periods was known as "Beşiktaş Beach Palace" for a long time.

Towards the second half of the 18th century, Western influences began to be seen in Turkish architecture, and the form of decoration called "Turkish Rococo" began to show itself in neobaroque style mansions, pavilions and public fountains, which were also built under Western influence. Sultan III. Selim is the sultan who had the first buildings built in Western style on the Bosphorus. He had architect Antoine Ignace Melling build a pavilion in Beşiktaş Palace and expanded other structures he deemed necessary. Sultan II. Apart from Topkapı Sahil Palace, Mahmut had two large palaces built in Western style in Beylerbeyi and Çırağan gardens. During these periods, the New Palace (Topkapı Palace) was considered abandoned, even if it was not actually there. The palace in Beylerbeyi, Çırağan with its marble columns in Ortaköy, the old Beşiktaş Palace and the pavilions in Dolmabahçe were built during World War II. Mahmut's residences changed according to the seasons. Like his father, Sultan Abdülmecid did not have much regard for the "New Palace" and only stayed there for a few months during the winter. Almost all of his more than forty children were born in the Bosphorus palaces.

After living in the old Beşiktaş Palace for a while, Sultan Abdülmecid decided to build a palace in European plan and style for the purpose of residence, summer resort, receiving and entertaining guests, and conducting state affairs, instead of the classical palaces preferred so far. Although Abdülmecid did not receive a good education like other princes, he was an administrator with modern ideas. The sultan, who loved Western music and living in Western style, knew enough French to get along. While having the palace built, he said, "Evil and ugliness are prohibited here, only beautiful things should be found here." It is narrated that he said.

There is no information on the exact date when the demolition of the mansions located on the site of today's Dolmabahçe Palace began, in order to rediscover the land reclaimed from the sea about 200 years ago. It is estimated that the old palace was still in place in 1842 and the construction of the new palace started after this date. However, it is stated that the surrounding fields and cemeteries were purchased and expropriated in order to expand the construction land during these dates. Various sources give different dates regarding the completion date of the construction. However, from the accounts of a French visitor who visited the palace at the end of 1853, we learn that the decorations of the palace were still being made and the furniture had not yet been placed.

The facade of Dolmabahçe Palace, built by Sultan Abdülmecid, extends for 600 meters on the European shore of the Bosphorus. It was built in an eclectic style, which is a mixture of European architectural styles, between 1843 and 1855 by Armenian architects Garabet Amira Balyan and her son Nigoğos Balyan. The opening ceremony of Dolmabahçe Palace, which was completely completed in 1855, took place after the Treaty of Paris signed with the Russian Empire on March 30, 1856. In the newspaper Ceride-î Havâdis dated 7 Shawwal 1272 Hijri, 11 June 1856 Gregorian, it was reported that the palace was officially opened on 7 June 1856.

When the cost of the palace, which amounted to three million bags of gold during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid, was transferred to the Treasury, the treasury was in a difficult situation and had to pay the salaries in the middle of the month instead of at the beginning of the month, and later every 3-4 months. Sultan Abdülmecid was able to live in Dolmabahçe Palace, which cost 5,000,000 gold coins, for only 5 years.

During the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, who took over the Ottoman Empire in a state of complete economic bankruptcy, the annual expense of the palace, which served 5,320 people, was 2,000,000 pounds sterling. Sultan Abdülaziz was not as much a fan of the West as his brother Sultan Abdülmecid. The sultan, who preferred a modest lifestyle, was interested in wrestler wrestling and cockfights.

On May 30, 1876, Sultan Murad V was taken from his apartment in the palace and taken to Bâb-ı Serasker and the allegiance ceremony was held at the Serasker Gate (University Central Building). While Murad V was returning from Sirkeci to Dolmabahçe with his royal boat, Sultan Abdülaziz was being taken to Topkapı Palace in another boat at the same time. A second allegiance ceremony was held for Murad V, who was brought to the palace, at the upper floor table of the Mabeyn Office. Sultan II, who ascended the throne after Murad V. While the whole city was illuminated with lanterns in honor of Abdulhamid, only one room in the Dolmabahçe Palace was lit, and the sultan was working on the text of the constitution. Suspecting an assassination, Sultan Abdülhamid gave up living in Dolmabahçe Palace and moved to Yıldız Palace. Sultan Abdulhamid stayed in Dolmabahçe Palace for only 236 days.

The palace, which was built at great expense, was used for the holiday ceremonies held in the Grand Examination Hall twice a year during the 33-year reign of Sultan Abdulhamid. When Mehmet V came to the throne, Dolmabahçe Palace had been neglected for thirty years and Sultan II. preferred to live in Yıldız Palace instead. It was in ruins during the reign of Abdulhamid. When Dolmabahçe Palace was restored as the administrative center of the sultan, a comprehensive restoration of the building was needed. Mihran Mesrobyan was later hired as the chief architect of the restoration. During the reign of Sultan Mehmet V, the staff of the palace was reduced, and while very important events took place abroad, few events took place within the palace during the eight-year period. These events were a banquet held for 90 people on March 9, 1910, a week-long visit ceremony of the Serbian King Peter on March 23 of the same year, the visit of Crown Prince Max, and the banquets held in honor of the Austrian Emperor Karl and Empress Zita. The tired and old sultan died in Yıldız Palace, not in Dolmabahçe Palace. VI. Mehmet preferred to live in Yıldız, but left the homeland from Dolmabahçe Palace.

Abdülmecid Efendi, who received the telegram signed by Gazi Mustafa Kemal, the head of the first Turkish Grand National Assembly, was declared caliph. The new caliph received the delegation from the Turkish Grand National Assembly on the upper floor of Dolmabahçe's Mabeyn Office Hall. With the abolition of the Caliphate, Abdülmecid Efendi left Dolmabahçe Palace with his entourage. (1924) Atatürk did not visit the abandoned palace for three years. During his reign, the palace gained importance in two aspects; Foreign guests were hosted in this place, and the palace doors were opened to the outside in terms of culture and art. Shah Pahlavi of Iran, King Faisal of Iraq, King Abdullah of Jordan, King Amanullah of Afghanistan, King Henry VIII of the United Kingdom who came for a special visit. Edward and Yugoslav King Alexander were hosted by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk at Dolmabahçe Palace. The First Turkish History Congress was opened in the Muayede Hall on September 27, 1932, and the First and Second Turkish Language Congresses were held here in 1934. The European meeting of the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme, to which the Turkish Touring and Automobile Association is affiliated, was held in Dolmabahçe Palace, marking the first time the palace was opened to tourism (1930).

During the Republic period, it became the palace that Atatürk used as his residence during his visits to Istanbul. Additionally, Atatürk died in room 71 of the palace. Last respects were paid in front of his body, which was placed on the catafalque set up in the Examination Hall. After Atatürk, the palace was used by İsmet İnönü when he came to Istanbul during his presidency. After the single-party period, the palace was opened to host foreign guests. Ceremonies and banquets were held in honor of Italian President Gronchi, Iraqi King Faisal, Indonesian Prime Minister Sukarno, and French Prime Minister General de Gaulle.

In 1952, Dolmabahçe Palace was opened to the public once a week by the National Assembly Administration. Its official opening was made with the meeting of the National Assembly Presidency Council on 10 July 1964, and it was closed by citing a notification reason with the letter of the National Assembly Administration Directorate dated 14 January 1971. Dolmabahçe Palace, which was opened to tourism on June 25, 1979, by the order of the President of the National Assembly No. 554, was closed upon a notice on October 12 of the same year. About two months later, it started to serve tourism again upon the telephone order of the President of the National Assembly. The palace was closed to visitors again by the decision of the MGK Executive Department dated 16 June 1981 and numbered 1.473, and was opened a month later by the order of the MGK General Secretariat numbered 1.750.

Sections providing cafeteria services for visitors and souvenir sales departments were established in the gardens of the Clock Tower, Furnishings Department, Kuşluk, Harem and Crown Office, and scientific books introducing the national palaces, various postcards and facsimiles of selected products from the National Palaces Painting Collection were offered for sale in these sections. . On the other hand, the Ceremony Hall and the gardens are reserved for national and international receptions, and with new arrangements, the palace has been transformed into museum units within the museum and art and cultural events. The palace has been serving as a museum since 1984.


Architectural form

Dolmabahçe Palace, which was built in imitation of the monumental dimensions of European palaces, cannot be tied to a specific form because it is equipped with elements of different forms and methods. In its plan consisting of a large central building and two wings, it is observed that elements that had architecturally functional value in the past were handled with a different understanding and used for decoration purposes.

Although Dolmabahçe Palace does not have a unique architectural style that falls into certain schools, French Baroque, German Rococo, English Neo Classicism and Italian Renaissance were applied in a mixed manner. The palace is a work that was made in the artistic atmosphere of that century, taking into account the needs of the Ottoman palace, while the society was trying to modernize with the western understanding, under the influence of the west in art. As a matter of fact, when one pays attention to the mansions and palaces of the 19th century, one can realize that they tell not only about the artistic events of the century in which we lived, but also about the development of society and technique.



Although its western appearance from the sea side, Dolmabahçe Palace has an eastern appearance as it is surrounded by high walls on the garden side and consists of separate units, and was built on a 600 m long marble pier. The distance from the Mabeyn Office (today the Painting and Sculpture Museum) to the Crown Prince's Office is 284 m. In the middle of this distance is the Ceremony (Examination) Office, which attracts attention with its height.

Dolmabahçe Palace has a three-storey, symmetrical plan. It has 285 rooms and 43 halls. The foundations of the palace were made of chestnut tree logs. In addition to the dock on the sea side, there are also two monumental gates on the land side, one of which is very ornate. In the middle of this seaside palace, surrounded by a well-kept and beautiful garden, there is the ceremony and ballroom, which is higher than the other sections. The large, 56-columned reception hall attracts visitors with its enormous 4.5-ton British-made crystal chandelier, illuminated by 750 lights.

The entrance of the palace was used for the Sultan's reception and negotiations, and the wing on the other side of the ceremony hall was used as the harem section. Its interior decoration, furniture, silk carpets and curtains and all other belongings have survived to the present day, exactly as in the original. Dolmabahçe Palace has a wealth and magnificence that is not found in any Ottoman palace. The walls and ceilings are decorated with paintings by European artists of the time and tons of gold ornaments. In important rooms and halls, everything has the same color tones. All floors are covered with different, highly decorated wooden parquets. The famous Hereke silk and wool carpets, the most beautiful works of Turkish art, are laid in many places. Rare decorative handicrafts from Europe and the Far East adorn every part of the palace. Many rooms of the palace feature crystal chandeliers, candelabra and fireplaces.

The largest ballroom among the palaces in the world is in this palace. A huge crystal chandelier weighing 4.5 tons hangs from its 36-meter-high dome. This hall, which was used for important political meetings, congratulations and balls, was previously heated with an oven-like arrangement below. Heating and electrical systems were added to the palace between 1910 and 1912, during the reign of Sultan Mehmet Reşad. Of the six baths, the one in the Selamlik section is decorated with carved alabaster marbles. The upper galleries of the large hall are reserved for the orchestra and diplomats.

In the harem section, which can be reached by passing through long corridors, there are the sultan's bedrooms, the sultan's mother's section, and other women's and servants' sections. The northern extension of the palace was allocated to the princes. The building, whose entrance is in the Beşiktaş district, currently serves as the Painting and Sculpture Museum. On the outside of the Palace Harem, there were the Palace Theatre, Istabl-ı Âmire, Hamlacılar, Attiye-i Senniye Warehouses, aviary kitchen, pharmacy, pastry shop, dessert shop, bakeries, flour factory and "Bayıldım Mansions".

Dolmabahçe Palace is located on an area of approximately 250,000 m². The palace, including almost all of its outbuildings, was filled with sea and 35–40 cm was built on this ground. diameter, 40–45 cm. It was built of masonry on a 100-120 cm thick, very strong khorasan mortared mattress (raft) integrated with horizontal beams reinforced by driving oak piles at intervals. Pile lengths are 7 to 27 m. It varies between . Horizontal loincloth beams have a rectangular section of 20 x 25 - 20 x 30 cm. Khorasan mattresses are 1–2 m above the main mass. They are designed to extend beyond the outside. The foundation mattresses of the demolished old palaces were repaired and reused. Since they are very solid, none of them have collapsed, cracked or split.

The foundation and outer walls of the palace were made of solid stone, the partition walls were made of blended brick, and the floors, ceilings and roofs were made of wood. Iron tensioners were used for reinforcement on the body walls. Solid stones were brought from Haznedar, Safraköy, Şile and Sarıyer. The brick body walls covered with stuka marble were covered with paneling using porphyry marble slabs or precious trees. Window joinery is made of oak timber, and doors are made of mahogany, walnut or more valuable timber. Çıralı pine timbers were brought from Romania, oak uprights and beams were brought from Demirköy and Kilyos, and door, paneling and parquet timbers were brought from Africa and India.

Marmara marble was used in the masonry domed baths built in Turkish style with bottom heating, and Egyptian alabaster ore was used in the Hünkâr bath. Specially manufactured glass that does not transmit ultraviolet rays was used in the windows. Especially the wall and ceiling decorations in the places used by the sultan are more than those in other places. Snow and rainwater collected on the roofs are connected to the sewer system through streams and gutters. The sewerage network was established with a sufficient number of pipes, and the wastewater was cleaned through various processes and discharged into the sea from four different places.



The interior and exterior decorations of Dolmabahçe Palace were made using a combination of motifs taken from various art periods of the West. Baroque, Rococo and Empire motifs were used intertwined. In the construction of the palace, marble of a color similar to blue extracted from the Marmara Islands was used, and in the interior decoration, works were carried out with precious marbles and stones such as alabaster, crystal and porphyry. An eclectic approach prevails in interior decorations as well as in exterior decorations. The wall and ceiling decorations of the palace were made by Italian and French artists. Gold powder was mostly used in interior decorations. The paintings were made on plaster and plaster, and dimensional surfaces were created with perspectival architectural compositions in wall and ceiling decorations. The interior decoration of the palace was enriched by additions over the course of history, and the halls and rooms gained a special value, especially with the gifts of foreign statesmen and commanders. A foreign artist named Séchan worked on the decoration and furnishing of the palace. In addition to European style (Regence, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Vienna-Thonet) and Turkish style furniture, the cushions, mattresses and throws seen in the palace rooms show that the traditional Turkish lifestyle was maintained. In documents dated 1857, it was stated that Séchan was awarded a decoration for his success and that he should be paid three million francs.

All upholstery and curtain fabrics were local and produced in the palace's weaving mills. 141 carpets and 115 prayer rugs decorate the parquet floors of the palace (an area of approximately 4,500 m²). Most of the carpets were produced on the looms in Hereke factories. The total number of Bohemia, Bakara and Beykoz chandeliers is 36. The material of footed candlesticks, some fireplaces, crystal stair railings and all mirrors is crystal. There are also 581 candlesticks made of crystal and silver in the palace. Of the total of 280 vases, 46 are Yıldız porcelain, 59 are Chinese, 29 are French Sèvres, 26 are Japanese, and the rest are porcelains from various European countries. 158 clocks, each with a different feature, decorate the rooms and halls of the palace. Approximately 600 paintings were made by Turkish and foreign painters. Among these, there are 19 paintings by the palace chief painter Zonaro and 28 paintings by Ayvazovsky, who came to Istanbul during the reign of Abdulaziz.


Walls and doors

Although there is no exact information about when the walls on the land side of the Dolmabahçe Palace, which are very difficult to overcome, were built, there are foreign sources stating that the current walls of the palace were built during the times of Beşiktaş Palace and the old palace in Dolmabahçe.

When the walls of the special garden called "Dolmabahçe" at that time were in ruins and the magnificent buildings inside were constantly covered in dust and smoke, it was decided that this garden deserved more care and attention than ordinary gardens and that it should be eliminated from its ugly state. Because this place was in a remarkable location as it was one of the first places seen by guests and passengers coming to Istanbul both by land and sea. It was notified to the managers and administrators of the construction through a decree that with the repair and construction of the Dolmabahçe walls, the palace could be integrated with the other one in Beşiktaş, thus preserving its old reputation. A wall was built from Beşiktaş Palace to Kabataş, including Dolmabahçe. While the residents of Fındıklı were previously going to Dolmabahçe and Beşiktaş via the Arap pier, a port was built instead of the pier, and residents were also allowed to pass through Dolmabahçe.

The importance given to Dolmabahçe Palace can also be seen in the gates on the land and sea sides. The doors, which have a very ornate and majestic appearance, provide integrity with the palace. The treasury gate is located between the Treasury-i Hassa, which is used as the administration building today, and the Furnishings Department. The round arched and barrel vaulted section forms the main beam of this door. The two wings of the door are made of iron. At the entrance of the gate, there are twin columns on high pedestals on both sides. Entrance to the courtyards of the Treasury-i Hassa and Furnishing Departments was provided through the doors on the right and left of the Treasury gate. In the medallion on the crowned upper part of the door, there is the signature of Abdulmecid I in an oval shape, and below it is the inscription of the poet Ziver dated 1855/1856. The calligrapher of the inscription is Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi.

The decoration of the Treasury Gate mostly consists of cartouches, garlands, pearls, strings of eggs and oyster shell motifs. The Sultanate Gate, with Abdulmecid's signature on it, is located between two high walls with corridors. The door, which overlooks the garden of I loved it on one side and Hasbahçe on the other, has two wings made of iron. There are columns on both sides at the entrance of the gate, which has a monumental appearance. The gate is crowned with the use of twin columns followed by medallions enclosed in large panels. It has two towers, inside and outside. The Sultanate Gate also attracts the attention of foreign visitors. Souvenir photographs are taken by both those who visit Dolmabahçe Palace and those who participate in the Bosphorus tour.

Apart from these two gates, the Koltuk, Kuşluk, Valide and Harem Gates are also carefully constructed gates on the land side of the palace. On the sea-facing façade of Dolmabahçe Palace, there are five waterside gates with crowns, iron wings, medallions, decorated with plant motifs, and connected to each other with segmented railings.



The bay between Beşiktaş Hasbahçe and Karabali (Karaabalı) gardens in Kabataş was filled and the gardens were combined. Dolmabahçe Palace, built among these gardens, has well-kept gardens in the area between the sea and the high wall on the land side. Has Bahçe, which has a rectangular shape close to a square between the Treasury Gate and the palace entrance, is also known as Mabeyn or Selamlık Garden. There is a large pool in the middle of this garden designed in Western style. The "Kuşluk Garden", located on the land side of the examination hall, took its name from the Kuşluk Mansion.

The Harem Garden, located on the land side of the Harem Department of Dolmabahçe Palace, has an oval pool and beds arranged in geometric shapes. The gardens on the sea side are considered the continuation of Has Bahçe. There is a pool in the middle of the beds on both sides of the Great Waterside Gate. The arrangement of the beds with geometric shapes and the use of objects such as lanterns, vases and sculptures in decoration indicate that the gardens, like the main structure, were under western influence. Plants of mostly European and Asian origin were used in the gardens of the palace.



Two windows in the rest room of the hammam, located in the Selamlik section of the palace and made of porphyry marble, look out to the sea. From this room, where there is a tiled stove, table and sofa sets, you can go to the entrance hall, whose ceiling is covered with elephant eyes with cross-like motifs. There is a toilet on the left and a fountain made of porphyry marble opposite. You can go to the massage room from the right of the entrance. The illumination of this place is provided by two large windows and elephant eyes. It is seen that the night lighting is made by lamps placed in the glass partitions on the right and left sides of the door to the massage room. The walls of the bath, built in baroque style, are decorated with leaves, curved branches and flower motifs. There are porphyry basins on the right and left of the entrance, and the workmanship of the mirror stones attracts attention.

The tiled bath of the Harem Department is entered through a small corridor. On the right, in the entrance to the bathroom's toilet, there is a bronze fountain decorated with mirror stone flower motifs. It has a simple toilet. At the end of the corridor, there is seating in the massage room, which has two large windows and is illuminated by eyelets on the ceiling. Additionally, there is a table here, made in Kütahya, made with the underglaze technique, consisting of eight tile pieces, with a candlestick in each tile piece. It is understood that this place is illuminated with eight candles at night. The walls of the massage room are covered with 20 x 20 cm flower bouquet patterned ceramics. The mirror stone of the marble basin on the left side of the entrance is in baroque style. Moving on to the heating section, the glass panes on the walls on both sides of the door are made for oil lamps. The mirror stones of the three basins on the right and left here are carved in marble and are in baroque style. The basin with a bronze fountain located opposite the entrance is larger than the others. Eyelets made of geometric shapes on the ceiling provide illumination of the space. The walls are covered with daisy-patterned ceramics.

Another bath located on the lower floor was also used by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. There are three basins in the warmth of this bath, whose illumination is provided by the upper windows. The bath-like bathhouse is entered from a front room. There is a bathtub on the right side of the washing area, and a toilet with tap on the left side. There is a lead stained glass window opposite the entrance. You can go to the rest room from the left. There is a medicine cabinet, a table and a sofa. On the left, there is a fountain decorated with mirror stone flower motifs and an exit to the corridor on the left.


Lighting and heating

Lighting and heating of Dolmabahçe Palace was provided by the gas works located where BJK İnönü Stadium is located today. While Dolmabahçe Gas Works was managed by the palace treasury until 1873, it was later transferred to the French Gas Company. After a while, the management of the company passed to the municipality. Lighting with gas was used in some districts of Istanbul other than Dolmabahçe Palace.

Heating of the Examination Hall was done with a different technique. The heated air in the basement of the hall was let in through porous column bases, thus achieving a temperature of up to 20 °C in the large domed space. During the reign of Sultan Reşad, the original appearance of the gas lamps in the palace was preserved and they were transformed into electrically operated ones. Until this period, heating was provided by fireplaces, tile stoves and barbecues, but these were replaced by radiators.