Dolmabahce Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Dolmabahce Palace

Besiktas, Marmara Region, Turkey

Dolmabahce Palace is an opulent nineteenth century palace which twice served as the seat of the Ottoman Empire.

Peta Stamper

24 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dolmabahce Palace

Located within central Istanbul, Dolmabahce Palace or Dolmabahce Sarayi is an opulent 19th century palace on the Bosphorus River in Turkey which twice served as the seat of the Ottoman Empire.

Today, Dolmabahce Palace is a museum. Entry by guided tour only and if you’re planning to visit all the sections, a tour can take up to two and a half hours.

Dolmabahce Palace history

Begun in 1842 under Sultan Abdulmecit I, Dolmabahce Palace was completed in 1853 and first became the base of the Ottoman Empire as well as the home of Sultan Abdulmecit from 1856. Previously, the Sultan and his family lived at the medieval Topkapi Palace but wanted a more luxurious and modern residence.

The Dolmabahce Palace would remain the royal home until 1922, except for a 20-year period from 1889 when the seat was moved to Yildiz Palace. Even after the beginning of the Turkish Republic, Dolmabahce Palace did not lose its stature. The palace became the residence of its first president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who died there on 10 November 1938. Ataturk welcomed foreign visitors and made a centre for the national, historical and linguistic running of the new republic.

Dolmabahce Palace today

With its grand size and appearance both in it colourful interiors and ornate neoclassical exterior, Dolmabahce Palace is quite something to see. One of its most impressive rooms is the opulent Throne Hall, with its elaborate chandelier gifted by Queen Victoria, and the crystal staircase with lavish chandeliers hints at the great expense of the palace, which in fact forced the Sultan to devalue the state’s money.

The Dolmabahce Palace and grounds are well-worth spending several hours wandering around, and there are museum-like facilities to read about the building’s history. The palace is also largely wheelchair accessible.

Getting to Dolmabahce Palace

Located on the European side of the Bosphorus, the Dolmabahce Palace is open to the public Monday through Thursday between 9am and 3pm. The easiest way of reaching the palace is vis tram: it runs from Sultanahmet Square to Kabatas, which is the nearest stop to the palace. From the tram stop it only takes 10 minutes to walk to Dolmabahce Palace.