Dolmabahçe Palace

Istanbul, Turkey | C.1887

Photo Credit: Erol Ahmed

A palatial portal into Turkey’s past, the Dolmabahçe Palace is the former administrative center for the Ottoman Empire. Situated on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait, the Palace served as the center of the Empire’s monarchy for nearly 100 years and cost the equivalent of $1.5 Billion dollars to construct.

The origin of the Dolmabahçe Palace is a classic case of keeping up with the Jones’s — or in this case, the monarchy. Seeking a more opulent palace to compete with the stately structures of European monarchs, the Empire’s Sultan Abdülmecid I ordered the construction of Dolmabahçe Palace as his current residence – Topkapi Palace – lacked the style, luxury, and comfort of his European counterparts.

In total, the Dolmabahçe Palace cost five million Ottoman gold lira – the equivalent of $1.5 billion today. With 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths, and 68 bathrooms, it is still to this day the largest palace in Turkey. Decorated in gold and crystal, the Palace is an eclectic blend of traditional Ottoman style with contemporary styles of the 19th century.

After its completion, the Palace was home to six Sultans from 1856 to 1924. After housing six Sultans from 1856 to 1924, abolishment of the Caliphate brought with it the transfer of ownership of the Palace to the national heritage of the new Turkish Republic. Turkey’s first President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, then used the Palace as a presidential residence during the summer and continued doing so until his death in 1938. Today the Palace is open to the public for visits, ceremonies, & wedding celebrations.

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