The Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul graces the shoreline of the Bosphorus and is an awe-inspiring showcase of the immense wealth of the Ottoman Empire. The Empire stretched across three continents (Europe, Western Asia and North Africa) during its pinnacle in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Dolmabahçe Palace served as the Empire’s administrative centre in the 19th to early-20th centuries. Of the many sights, the Dolmabahçe Palace is, in my book, a must-see attraction in Istanbul!
The palace is home to an incredible collection of Baccarat and Bohemian crystals, breathtaking gilded ceilings and columns, and magnificent gifts from foreign rulers including the Tsars of Russia and Queen Victoria.
The richly decorated interior is strikingly European in style and was designed to display the splendor of the Ottomans to maximum effect. The highlight of a tour through the palace is undoubtedly the imposing Ceremonial Hall. The hall is 2,000 square meters in size and 36 meters high, and apart from its magnificent golden interior and impressive columns, boasts a 4.5 ton Bohemian crystal chandelier, a gift from Queen Victoria and the largest of its kind in the world. When I visited the Ceremonial Hall for the first time, my jaw literally dropped open. Of all the palatial halls in the world that I’ve visited, this one certainly takes top marks for its visual impact!
Other highlights in the palace include the famous Crystal Staircase (with its Baccarat crystal bannisters), the room of the Father of Modern Turkey, Ataturk, and the bear rugs which were gifts from the Russian Tsar. If you’re visiting this fabulous city on the Bosphorus, I strongly recommend including the Dolmabahçe Palace to your itinerary.