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Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul photo

The Dolmabahçe Palace is on the western coast of the Bosporus Strait. It was built in the 19th century when the medieval Topkapi Palace where Turkish sultans lived for about 400 years was already unsuitable for the luxurious life of the educated rulers of that century.

In the 17th century there was a small bay for military ships on this place. Sultan Ahmed ordered to fill in the bay and build there the wooden coastal Beşiktaş palace surrounded by a garden. As a result of often fires, the Beşiktaş palace was destroyed, excepting the garden. Since then the site was known as the Dolmabahçe. The name means «Filled-in Garden».

The facade of the Dolmabahçe Palace stretches for 600 meters along the Bosporus Strait. Now tourists can get in the palace through the Gate of Treasures on the southern side. A beautiful mosque and a clock tower is also on that side.

The construction of the palace was started in 1842 when Sultan Abdülmecid I wanted to erect a palace, which would have been more luxurious than the royal residences of Europe and symbolized the prime of the Ottoman Empire. The palace was finished 14 years later, in 1856.

Nearly all other monarchs of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the first president of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kamal Atatürk lived in this palace. Only the last sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdul Hamid II, preferred to live in the nearby Yıldız Palace (Star Palace) as he thought the Dolmabahçe Palace vulnerable as to security. 

Not all rooms of the Dolmabahçe Palace are open for tourists as since 2007 it was again made the official residence of the prime-minister of the country. But even what you can see is enough to have a clear idea about its luxury. The Dolmabahçe Palace was designed in the style of baroque and consists of four interconnected buildings. During an excursion you can see the state-rooms, the throne hall and the harem (a separate excursion).

The throne room make the greatest impression. English queen Victoria gave the sultan a huge chandelier of Bohemian glass weighing over 5 tonnes. The chandelier still decorate the dome of the throne room.