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In the Rear of Bosphorus: The Legendary Dolmabahçe Palace

The Dolmabahçe Palace, at the rear of the shores of Beşiktaş, is a landmark of Istanbul, mainly due to its extensive historical background. The name of the palace is translated as “filled garden” in English, which originates from the fact that Dolmabahçe Palace is built on a filled bay, previously used for anchorage for the Ottoman fleet. Because the Dolmabahçe Palace housed six sultans along with a president, Atatürk, the cultural significance the palace possesses is crucial for the cultural heritage of Türkiye.

The location of Dolmabahçe Palace was originally not on land, meaning the area occupied by the palace was filled, but then was reclaimed due to the request of multiple sultans to be used as an imperial garden. Following Sultan Abdülmecid I’s command, the palace was constructed accordingly between the years of 1843 and 1856. As a lingering effect of the Tanzimat Reform Era, Sultan Abdülmecid I decided to construct a modern, comfortable, and luxurious palace similar to European monarchs because the Sultan deeply believed that Topkapı Palace was inefficient to accommodate the prosperity of the Ottoman Empire. Due to the influence of the Western World on the construction of Dolmabahçe Palace, no expense was spared. During the construction of the Palace, 14 tons of gold was used only to decorate the ceilings with golden leaves, and quite expensive stones such as, Egyptian alabaster, Marmara marble, and Pergamum porphyry were used, which resulted in a construction cost of five million Ottoman Liras, approximately a quarter of the annual tax revenue.

The foundation for the construction was based upon foreign loans, as well as debasement. To clarify debasement, it is to issue paper money but in massive and excessive amounts. The excessive cost of Dolmabahçe Palace consequently had deteriorating effects on the Ottoman economy, later driving the economy to utmost bankruptcy. Up until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924, the Palace was a property of the Ottoman Empire, and the last royal to live there was Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi. On March 3, 1924, a revised law was put into practice, claiming the Palace to be the property of the new Turkish Republic. The palace was last utilized for its own purpose by Atatürk, who used the Palace as a presidential residence, where he hosted and welcomed foreign guests and held diplomatic meetings. Atatürk also received his medical treatments here in the palace and spent his last days until his passing on November 10, 1938. In our time today, the palace is under the possession of the Directorate of National Palaces, ultimately being a property of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye.

The Dolmabahçe Palace

The Dolmabahçe Palace is the greatest palace in Türkiye, due to being spread over 45.000 square meters of land. As it is evident from the vast land the palace is built on, the palace contains an enormous amount of area to house guests and the entire Ottoman royal family. Dolmabahçe Palace has 285 rooms, 44 halls, and 68 toilets, not to mention 6 Turkish baths. The rooms that face the Bosphorus were reserved for the Grand Vizier, the highest-ranking administrative officer in the Ottoman Empire, also acting as a deputy of the sultan. Moreover, the palace itself is decorated with collections of oil paintings belonging to numerous globally renowned artists. For any art enthusiast willing to visit an exhibit of 202 paintings, Dolmabahçe Palace might be considered as an option.

Inside the Dolmabahçe Palace

To visit Dolmabahçe Palace, there are certain heads-ups required for potential visitors to acknowledge. The most prominent caution to take would be the prohibition of taking photos inside. Regardless of the flash factor, taking photos inside the palace is strictly prohibited. Furthermore, the palace accepts guests only on weekdays from 9.00 A.M. to 3.00 P.M., excluding Mondays and Thursdays. If you are willing to witness a historical journey in the near past, visiting Dolmabahçe Palace should be on your bucket list!

Works Cited

"Dolmabahce Palace." Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul, 2023, Accessed 26 Nov. 2023.

"Dolmabahçe Palace" ["Dolmabahçe Palace"]. Wikipedia, The Wikipedia Publisher, 3 June 2022, Accessed 25 Nov. 2023.

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