The school children are waiting patiently as their teachers give them instructions before entering the Palace gates. It is Remembrance Day for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk & though it is not a public holiday, the Turks all over the country observe a moment of silence. A testament of patriotic fervour in the city of Istanbul is the Atatürk badges worn & little Turkish flags borne in his honour.
The imposing & impressive Gate of the Sultan ( Saltanat Kapısı) welcomes you into Dolmabahçe Palace(Dolmabahçe Sarayı) located in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Turkey.
A second gate & high walls surround the palatial grounds. Dolmabahçe Palace served as the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 & 1909 go 1922. The layout & decoration throughout the palace reflects European influences but it interestingly also retains elements of traditional Ottoman palace life & features of Turkish homes.
Walking through neatly manicured Selamlık Garden.The site of Dolmabahçe Palace used to be a bay on the Bosphorous that the Ottoman fleet anchored. It was reclaimed during the 18th century & served as an imperial garden which the Ottoman Sultans enjoyed. Construction of various summer palaces & wooden pavilions were gradually added forming the palace complex by the 19th century.That was how the Palace’s name was derived at; “Dolma” means filled & “bahçe” – garden.
Entrance to the Selamlık. This massive 45,000sq.m mono block was ordered by the Ottoman Empire’s 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I & construction took place between 1843 & 1856 the project was handled by Armenian architects Garabed Balyan, his son Nigoğos Balyan & Evanis Kalfa.
By the Gate to the Bosphorus is this big video screen continuously showing excerpts from historical moments recorded in Atatürk’s life.
Looking through the Gate to the Bosphorus, a battleship is moored especially to mark Atatürk Remembrance Day.
Seed pod of the Magnolia acuminata or common name ‘Cucumber tree’ which is one of the largest & cold hardiest of the Magnolia trees. It bears none showy, small yellow-green flowers & its unripe fruit looks like a small cucumber. Upon maturing it turns a dark striking reddish-orange colour.
The matured pod is about 6-8cm long & 4cm broad; the individual carpels split open & release bright red seeds like these. There are 10-60 seeds per fruit.
This palace is an eclectic hotchpotch of Baroque, Rococo & Neoclassical styles blended with traditional Ottoman architecture & it comprises 3 parts. The Imperial Mabeyn, the Imperial Harem & the Crown Prince Pavilion. The Imperial Harem & the Grand Ceremonial Hall ( Muayede Salon) come under a single roof of the main structure.
Within the Imperial Harem, where the Sultan’s private apartment is found. This is the largest palace in Turkey with 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths ( ham am) & 68 toilets. Most of the palace carpets were manufactured by the Hereke Imperial Factory.
Beautiful balustrades, elegant stairways & ornate ceiling decorations that have a “wow” factor that seemingly whisk you to magical Disney palace set!
The grandeur of this palace is probably unsurpassed by another other: 14 tonnes of gold were used to gild the ceilings & the largest collection of Bohemian & Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world is housed here.
The Blue Hall was the central ceremonial hall where the Sultan met the public. It was situated in the centre of the Sultan’s harem & featured blue coloured ornaments, decorations & marble.
The construction cost of Dolmabahçe Palace was a mind-blowing 5 million Ottoman gold lira or 35 tonnes of gold which placed an enormous strain on the deteriorating fiscal position of the Ottoman empire, which ultimately led to a default on its public debt in Oct 1875.
Dolmabahçe Palace was fashioned in a contemporary style, luxurious & comfortable compared to medieval Tokapı Palace. Abdülmecid I wanted a palace that was comparable to those of the European monarchs.
This was Atatürk’s Study room which he used from 1927 to 1938. Some of the European furniture & paintings, European & Far-eastern porcelain & glasses & Hereke carpets that fill the Palace are seen here as well.
This is the very room where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk spent his last days before passing away on 10th Nov 1938. This bedroom in the former Harem section of the palace is festooned with bouquets & memorabilia from visitors. A nugget of trivia… the clock in the room is stopped at 9:05am the time of Atatürk’s death.
Ornate floral ceiling decorations that are so detailed & symmetrical & a marvel to behold. The individual rooms are tastefully furnished & exude such elegance & warmth.
This Central Hall or the Pink Hall is situated in t he Sultan’s Mother’s (Sultan Valide) private apartments & form part of the Imperial Harem. This lofty room of spectacular opulence is beautifully embellished with vintage furniture, paintings, gilded mirrors & a gigantic carpet that some fitting ballroom dancing could liven things up!
Outside the Painting Museum which was closed for renovations at the time of my visit.
‘Mallard Conference’ – The drake sports a glossy green head with grey feathers on its wings & belly, whilst the female hens have mainly brown-speckled plumage. Both have an area of white-bordered black speculum feathers with iridescent blue feathers. Mallards live in wetlands, feeding on water plants & small animals & being social animals prefer congregating in flocks of various sizes.
‘The Princess’ – Demure feline presence.
‘The Grouch’ – What are you looking at? Just leave me alone OK!
“Could’nt Be Bothered” – Just chill, huh!
Another inner garden with a fountain in the extensive grounds of Dolmabahçe Palace.
Gate of the Treasury ( Hazine-i-Hassa Kapısı)
The main entrance to the Palace & the facade of the Selamlık which was quarters reserved for the men & where the public representation rooms are housed.
Water fountain in Selamlık Garden.
On the European coastline of the Bosphorus Strait in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Turkey is the lavish Dolmabahçe Palace.
Took a cruise tour of the Bosphorus Strait the day before & we passed Dolmabahçe Palace along the way.
The F241 Frigate – TCG Turgutreis was moored by the Gate of the Bosphorus possibly in salutation to Atatürk?
Dolmabaçhe Palace is an exquisite Turkish treasure & museum that is worth a visit. You will be awed by the gorgeous rooms, decorations, furnishing & beautiful chandeliers that befits a grand palace. If you are lucky like me who unknowingly visited on Atatürk Remembrance Day which falls on 10th Nov; entrance is completely free. General admission is 30Lira & with the Harem visit an additional 10Lira.