Iconic symbol of westernization
When the area where Dolmabahçe Palace is located was a small bay, it was filled and wooden kiosks were made by various sultans in the first half of the 17th century. These kiosks were demolished and rebuilt many times; Dolmabahçe became a private garden of the sultans for purpose of entertainment and recreation. Abdulmecit demolished the old palace to build a new palace. Dolmabahçe Palace was built by Garabet Balyan and Nigoğayos Balyan in years between 1843 and 1856.
Palace was built with “L” shape plan; longer part is parallel to the Bosphorus, and shorter part extends to landward. Front side is surrounded with a waterfront in the coast of the Bosphorus, and land side is covered with high courtyard walls.
The construction of the palace is mixture of Ottoman culture and art values with neo-classical, baroque and empire styles. The palace accommodated many famous guests including Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who lived last period of his illness in a room overlooking the sea, and lost his life in November 10, 1938.
The palace is well protected till today, and it is decorated with valuable objects such as almost 900 painting of local and foreign artists, crystal chandeliers and candlesticks, and Yıldız, European, Chinese and Japanese porcelains. Carpets woven in Hereke just for the palace take up 4454 m2 space. There are 285 rooms, 44 saloons, 68 toilets and 6 baths in the palace.
In the Selamlık section official businesses of the state were conducted. Official ceremonies were made in the Ceremonial Hall (Muayede Hall) with its magnificent and splendid decoration. Harem section was housing sultans, mother queens, spouses of sultans (kadınefendi), princes and sultanas.
The palace can be visited every day except Mondays and Thursdays; at hours between 09:00-15:00 from October 1 to February 28; at hours between 09:00-16:00 from March 1 to September 30. Travel is accompanied by guides.