"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abound at Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

October 2020.

In many ways the history of Istanbul can be viewed as a tale of two palaces. As regular readers may remember, the first complex sprang up in 1459 following Sultan Mehmed II’s victory with the Fall of Constantinople. Sladja and I had a fantastic time exploring Topkapi Palace, home to no less than 30 sultans during its 400 year history as the Ottoman Empire’s lavish HQ.

The entrance to Topkapi Palace.

Topkapi Palace.

Eventually, in the 1840s, there came a sultan who felt dissatisfied by how run down and outdated Topkapi had become. His name was Abdulmejid I, a man recognised today as the sultan who effectively kicked off the long overdue modernisation of The Ottoman Empire.

Turkey flag.

After a tour of Europe, he complained that Topkapi was “embarrassingly inferior” to other palaces he’d seen. Thus he ordered the construction of a brand new royal seat on the banks of The Bosphorus in what is now Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district. 

Abdulmejid I the 31st sultan of The Ottoman Empire

Abdulmejid I: “I need more bling”. 

We certainly couldn’t leave the Turkish capital without seeing the sultan’s grandiose creation, Dolmabahçe Palace. Hence we woke up early one morning and made our way there, arriving shortly after opening time. Hearteningly, there were no lines whatsoever as we approached the ticket office.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Ticket office at Dolmabahce Palace.

Loving the lack of people.

Tickets in hand, we strolled into the palace gardens through the majestic Gate of the Treasury. Having hired the famed Armenian Balyan Family as architects, the sultan oversaw Dolmabahce’s construction, which began in 1843 and lasted for just over thirteen years.

Gate of the Treasury Dolmabahce Palace

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Located on the southern side of the palace, the gate used to allow entry to the staff who managed the palace’s treasury and its many priceless antiques.

Gateway to the gardens at Dolmabache Palace

Entering through the Gate of the Treasury.

The gardens are absolutely gorgeous, a fine taster for the ludicrous opulence that awaited us within. Unveiled in 1856 as a fully operational all-singing-and-dancing Ottoman palace, Dolmabahce subsequently became home to just six sultans.

The Swan Fountain at Dolmabache Palace.

The Swan Fountain in the palace gardens.

According to Sladja, armed with an audio guide, the last Ottoman leader to live here was Abdulmejid II. He had to leave the palace in 1924 after the abolition of the caliphate. I can’t imagine he was too chuffed about that. 

Adventures in Istanbul.

Audio guide Dolmabache Palace.

Sladja absorbing some audio history in the garden.

With the creation of The Turkish Republic, the palace fell into the hands of the country’s National Heritage group. Later, President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk moved in and adopted the compound as his Presidential Palace. As you would. 

Lion statues in the gardens at Dolmabahce Palace

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Wandering the gardens, it wasn’t long before we came upon the gargantuan Gate of the Sultan. As you might imagine, traditionally the gate was only for the sultan’s use.

However, this temporarily changed when Murad V (who ruled for just three months between May and August 1876) began granting special guest entry. Not sure if this was why he was deposed and replaced by his brother just 93 days into his reign.

Gate of the Sultan Dolmabahce Palace.

Big gate, little Leighton.

We entered the palace that day through the impressive facade of the southern wing, known in Turkish as Selamlık. The building used to house most of the palace’s administrative offices and public service rooms.

The History of Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Inside, we took in the impressive scope of the Protocol Hall (Medhal Salonu). Home, among other things, to ceramic fireplaces, antique English candleholders and a Baccarat crystal chandelier. Undoubtedly impressive, though nevertheless overshadowed by a stupendous chandelier we would see later.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Baccarat Crystal chandelier Dolmabahce Palace.

Protocol Hall.

At the end of the hall, a polished wooden staircase led us up to a long corridor where offices of the Privy Cabinet once operated. Here, typists and phone operators busied away relaying messages to the sultan. And later, the president and other top officials.

Self guided tour Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

While we weren’t able to enter the rooms, we had a perfect overview from the doorways behind red velvet stanchions. For the most part these rooms were quietly stylish, such as this Chamberlain’s Office pictured below. An elegant setup of gleaming wood, puffed armchairs, framed Quran quotes and a dignified Turkish rug.

Chamberlain and clerk offices Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Moreover, the corridor houses a large reception room where foreign dignitaries would sit patiently sipping from glasses of mint tea. Waiting for someone to appear and confirm that President Atatürk was ready to receive them.

Reception room for foreign dignitaries Dolmabahce Palace

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

There was also a large prayer room, the floor’s most luxuriant space by some distance. Indeed there were chandeliers made from Murano glass imported from Italy. A number of painted medallions in honour of Allah and Muhammed. Dominating one of the walls, I spied a huge framed work of calligraphy penned by none other than Sultan Abdulmejid I.

Exploring Istanbul.

A prayer room at Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Next, a short staircase took us up to the palace’s Valuable Collections Room. Here, there were 19th century Asian vases and a meticulously carved banquet table belonging to Sultan Mehmed Reşad V, who ruled between 1909 and 1918.


Valuable stuff.

Furthermore, a glass cabinet displayed numerous items from Ottoman tea and coffee culture. Somewhat garish in colour and design, there are porcelain teapots, glass jugs, flowery teacups and gold teaspoons.

Tea and coffee culture antiques at Dolmabahce Palace

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Soon we were off down another corridor, unaware that in terms of splendour things were about to reach a whole new level.

Exploring Dolmabahce Palace.

A cheeky selfie.

Right enough, there was a soft communal whoa between us as we entered the Zulvecheyn Salon. Considered the heart of the sultan’s inner sanctum, this was a place of rest. Sometimes the sultan would nap here, or gaze out across the gardens through the windows. From time to time piano performances took place, during which the sultan might invite a select few from his harem to join him.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

The Zulvecheyn Salon.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

From there we found ourselves overwhelmed by a seemingly endless array of opulent halls and salons, all of which served as social gathering spaces. Many of these were named after colours. The Pink Hall, appropriately, had plenty of pinky bits. In contrast, the Blue Hall wasn’t blue at all. Another grand albeit modest space, the Red Salon, clearly wasn’t a misnomer.


That’s a lot of red.

Many of the rooms we saw housed musical instruments. And then there was the actual Music Room, where the sultan and his closest confidantes would chill for delightful evenings of traditional Turkish song and dance.


Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

In the various corridors, hallways and landings, we came across scattered displays of Turkish paintings and furniture. One of the very finest and best preserved pieces is this hand-carved rosewood Ottoman console. Disappointingly, neither the audio guide nor the accompanying blurb could tell us how old it is or what it may have stored.

Hand crafted Ottoman Rosewood console.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

At last, we arrived at what many historians say is Dolmabahce’s spectacular centrepiece, the Ceremonial Hall. Despite all the immense beauty we’d already seen, this was definitely a next-level moment. This is where new sultans were officially unveiled and where they received their most important overseas guests. Atatürk also chose this room to make his first speech as president.

The Ceremonial Hall.

Worlds largest Bohemian crystal chandelier.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

The design is simply exquisite. There are 56 towering marble columns and a 124-square-meter rug custom made in the Turkish town of Hereke. Back in the Ottoman years they even managed to heat the floor by installing stoves in the soil. And yet, the show-stealer is the world’s largest chandelier, a 4.5 tonne Bohemian crystal beast made in England in 1853.

Grand Ceremonial Hall Dolmabahce Palace

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

The hall’s dome is a revelation too. 36 metres high, it boasts a level of craftsmanship that wouldn’t look out of place in some of Istanbul’s most celebrated mosques.

Dome of the Grand Ceremonial Hall in Dolmabahce Palace


The Ceremonial Hall marked the end of the first part of our interior tour. Exiting, we sat outside on the marble staircase taking in a section of the garden.

Blog review of Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Beyond the garden lies the hypnotic blue of The Bosphorus. Glad to have rested our legs, we strolled down to the open Gate to the Bosphorus. This is where the aforementioned foreign guests would arrive by boat before entering the palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Gate to the Bosphorus Dolmabahce Palace

Gate to the Bosphorus.

Passing through the gate onto the narrow stone platform, Sladja and I spotted a pensive pair of gulls surveying their kingdom. It was a nice moment, and one I was pleased to have captured shortly before they flew off.

A pair of gulls survey the Bosphorus in Istanbul

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Leaving the gate behind, we negotiated an until now undiscovered part of the palace gardens on our way to a small but fascinating museum.

Dolmabahce Palace Gardens.

Administrative buildings.

Dolmabache Clock Museum showcases a number of clocks put to use in both Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce. The various sultans had hundreds imported from Europe, especially France, a pioneer in ornamental musical clocks between the 16th and late 18th centuries.

Dolmabahce Clock Museum.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

The museum consists of just a single room, but one that is packed with some of the most incredible clocks I’ve ever seen.

Inside Dolmabahce Clock Museum.

Dolmabache Clock Museum.

In truth, I could have taken the time to photograph at least a dozen. In the end, I limited myself to just two. This French piece, produced in the late 1800s, plays six different tunes. On the stroke of the hour the music starts to play and the little ship on top begins to bob back and forth.

Dolmabache Clock Museum.

19th century French musical clock with moving ship

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Of the few Ottoman antiques on display, this astronomical clock certainly caught my eye. Made by a Turkish mathematician and astronomer by the name of Es Seyyid Süleyman Leziz, its exceptionally detailed dial indicates dozens of important calendar dates and historic national events. “A one-off piece” states the museum.

19th century Ottoman Astronomical Clock.

Tick tock.

After the Clock Museum we headed for the second and concluding part of the palace interior tour. In this wing of predominantly private quarters, we saw the sultan’s bedroom, study and bathroom.

Sultans bathroom, Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

His washroom was a surprisingly understated affair. Just a sizeable wet room in many respects, with sinks for cleaning his hands and feet. In fact, the most impressive feature was this remarkable ceramic table.

Stunning ceramic bathroom table Dolmabahce Palace

Inside the sultan’s bathroom.

A number of the rooms that came next belonged to the sultan’s wives and concubines. There were bedrooms, parlours, bathrooms, prayer rooms and communal spaces such as this tasteful lounge.

Sultan's Wife's Apartment Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

The sultan’s mother lived in the wing too. Jeez, I hope the walls were thick. This was her bedroom, a small but beautifully designed area in which she spent much of her time praying, reading and holding private audiences with her closest female friends.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Sultans Mothers Bedroom, Dolmabahce Palace.

Mum’s the word.

The last rooms were among the most fascinating. Following the formation of The Turkish Republic, President Atatürk moved into the wing, claiming half a dozen rooms. Inside this study, he produced some of his most important speeches and political reforms. The nation’s new alphabet, for example, was born from weeks of work carried out within these walls.

President Ataturk's study.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Most fascinating of all, we found ourselves entering Atatürk’s bedroom where we came face to face with his deathbed. Aged just 57, doctors diagnosed him with cirrhosis in early 1938. A result, they said, of decades of heavy smoking and alcohol consumption.

President Ataturk of Turkey 1881-1938.

President Ataturk (1881-1938).

He passed away in this room, in this very bed, on November the 10th that year. Having drawn his last breath at 09:05, all the clocks in the palace were stopped at that time in honour of his life.

Ataturtk's Deathbed, Dolmabahce Palace.

A sombre memorial.

Back outside, in the gardens, Sladja and I gradually made our way towards the exit. We passed regal fountains, colourful flower beds and more lion statues.

Lions are symbols of royal strength and dignity. The statue below shows a lion pressing his paws down on a crocodile. This is one of 22 marble and bronze pieces made in Paris by the French sculptor Pierre Louis Rouillard upon the order of Sultan Abdulaziz.

Exploring the Turkish Capital.

Lion on crocodile statue Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

By now the October sun was in full force. Ducking under a path shaded by drooping tree branches, we pressed on. In front of us, a cat darted across the edge of a glassy pond and its twisting rock formation. Just seconds later kitty was out of sight, disappearing into a cluster of cool bushes.

A cat darts across the gardens at Dolmabahce Palace

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Near the exit, we briefly considered stopping for a drink at the palace cafe-restaurant. However, just a glance told us that things were a bit too busy for our liking.

Milli Saraylar Cafe Dolmabahce Palace.

Palace eats.

Thus we bid Dolmabahce farewell and exited into the city. There was just enough time to have lunch before returning home for afternoon classes. Such days were always a bit stressful and rushed, but it was worth it. Particularly as we had succeeded in ticking off another Istanbul highlight while deepening our understanding and appreciation of this marvellous city.

A self-guided tour of Dolmabahce Palace.

Opulence Abounds at Dolmabahce Palace.

Like this? Take a look at my series of articles on Istanbul.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.


  • Stan

    brilliant article leighton. after reading this i had a scan through other blogs on dolmabahce and yours is head and shoulders above. you have a talent for going deep into history without boring people mainly thanks to your ability to be consice and inject humor. the palace is sumptous what a moment to enter the room ataurk spent so much time in and where his life ended

    August 2, 2023 - 3:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Stan! I do wonder sometimes if people want so much history ha ha. What can I say, I just can’t help myself. Thanks for checking out my write up of Dolmabahce Palace. I’m actually now at the halfway point of my Istanbul posts. But after ten articles I figure this is a good time to take a break and return to the China short stories for a bit. But fear not, I’ll be back to Istanbul posts in September.

      August 2, 2023 - 4:07 pm Reply
  • christinenovalarue


    August 2, 2023 - 4:15 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    Stunning example of how the rich and powerful lived. One can clearly see that it was a competition between world leaders to see whose was bigger and better. Is it any wonder that the population forced to scrape up enough money and goods to pay their tithes and taxes would soon grow resentful. Some rulers even lost their heads. Glad the place has been preserved. It might as well make some money for the country as a museum. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    August 2, 2023 - 4:59 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      The rich and the powerful, the underprivileged and the have nots. Fast forward 170 plus years and… well.. Thanks for touring Dolmabahce Palace, Allan.

      August 2, 2023 - 5:57 pm Reply
  • Memo

    Opulent is certainly the appropriate word. I haven’t seen that many palaces but this easily outdid Schönbrunn and Versailles. I’m assuming that the design of the huge rooms came first and then a massive chandelier was created to fit it. Kind of hard to believe that the sultan had the time to oversee everything. Liked the mother lion and her two cubs better than the lion and the crocodile. And really liked the portrait of you two reflected in the mirror. Not an easy thing to pull off.

    August 2, 2023 - 5:18 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’ve never been to Versailles and am surprised to hear from several people that Dolmabahce Palace more than holds its own. Ha, I would also like to know more about palace chandelier designing and fitting. Nice work if you can get it. We took quite the risk with the mirror selfie, I can tell you that certain security staff would have been furious!

      August 2, 2023 - 6:01 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Wow!!!! The architecture, gardens, and interior are just stunning. They give King Louis over at Versailles a run for his money. I’d love to tour this one day.

    August 2, 2023 - 5:38 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I guess I have to see Versailles one day! Thanks for dropping in Lyssy.

      August 2, 2023 - 6:01 pm Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    Opulence abounds, indeed! Wow. I’ve seen photos of other palaces, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one as grand as this. So many priceless baubles, trinkets, and treasures, not to mention the carpets, wallpapers, furnishings, etc. And those chandeliers are mind blowing! I’m very impressed, Leighton, and I would love to see Dolmabahce Palace in person one day. Fantastic post and photos, and I’m so glad you were able to share your visit there.

    August 2, 2023 - 6:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Kellye. A little naughtiness was needed on our part to get as many photos as we did. But you know, where there’s a will there’s a way. Appreciate you touring Dolmabahce Palace with us!

      August 2, 2023 - 6:03 pm Reply
  • Mallee Stanley

    While reading this, I couldn’t help recall the difference between this opulence and Ho Chi Minh who lived in a two-roomed house for a couple of years and then moved to something slightly bigger during his presidency.

    August 2, 2023 - 6:57 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ah yes, I have also been to the Ho Chi Minh complex in Hanoi. ‘House 54’ right? and then he upgraded to that stilt house later in life. Talk about chalk and cheese, that certainly wouldn’t have flown with any of those Ottoman sultans.

      August 2, 2023 - 9:04 pm Reply
  • Toonsarah

    Wow, opulent indeed! The chandeliers are amazing as is the architecture of the grander rooms. I love the gardens too, especially that sculpture of the lion and cubs, and the view through the gate to the Bosphorus.

    August 2, 2023 - 7:35 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      The gate was a lovely and unexpected moment. Just us and gulls gazing across the water. Thanks for reading Sarah.

      August 2, 2023 - 9:07 pm Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens

    Opulence indeed; c’est magnifique, comme Versailles. Thanks Leighton, for sharing your visit with us; it’s truly spectacular.

    August 2, 2023 - 8:27 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading Tricia. You’re right, it is a magnificent structure, inside and out, from top to bottom.

      August 2, 2023 - 9:10 pm Reply
  • thomasstigwikman

    That was a very interesting description and history of Dolmabahce Palace. I learned a lot of things from your post. The photos are amazing and the palace is astounding. I like how you put one paragraph between each photo. It makes it easy to read on a screen. Thank you for the very interesting reading.

    August 3, 2023 - 3:13 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Thomas, I’ve spent years fine tuning the design of my articles ha ha. I think in terms of keeping people’s attention (especially with history-heavy pieces like this) the 1 paragraph 1 photo setup works really well. Cheers for checking out my article on Dolmabahce Palace.

      August 3, 2023 - 9:35 am Reply
  • Anna

    Such a beautiful building… and talk about bling!! As always love your work mate!

    August 3, 2023 - 3:13 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Anna!

      August 3, 2023 - 9:37 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    Certainly a palace with such opulence that it rivals that of Versailles! The Dolmabahçe Palace definitely looks newer and more-polished as the successor of the Topkapi Palace, and I see European influences in its architecture…I didn’t get the chance to visit it while in Istanbul, but from your post, it goes to show that it’s worth going to check it out! Thanks for sharing, Leighton!

    August 3, 2023 - 6:24 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Rebecca, for some reason I was doubting whether I really needed to see both palaces. But in the end I’m glad we went, visually I think everything was even richer than the photos show.

      August 3, 2023 - 9:39 am Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    Interesting to read about the history of Dolmabahce Palace. We saw it from the exterior but didn’t have time to go inside.

    August 3, 2023 - 12:35 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Sorry to hear that you didn’t get into either of Istanbul’s palaces Marion. I’d say there’s definitely a case for a return visit someday.

      August 3, 2023 - 12:56 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Forget Tale of Two Cities- I much prefer your Tale of Two Palaces 🙂 Really interesting history with incredible and stunning backdrop. What I love about palaces like this is that every part of every room is considered and adorned with equal opulence. It makes walking through and seeing it all so overwhelming. I love those beautiful clocks too- what a great museum. Where’s my ballgown, I’m heading to the Dolmabahce Palace!

    August 3, 2023 - 5:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Sounds good, Meg. I’ll have to buy a gown for Sladja too. Maybe I’ll even rent a tux. Meet you at Dolmabahce!

      August 3, 2023 - 8:36 pm Reply
  • Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

    Great article! This goes to show that the love for bling and drip has been around for centuries 😆

    August 3, 2023 - 5:38 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      You know it. If those sultan’s could’ve gotten their hands on Jean Paul Gaultier 56-0174 sunglasses, diamond chains and a Lamborghini Gallardo you know the palace would have been rockin’ that vibe.

      August 3, 2023 - 8:42 pm Reply

    Bloody hell, opulence indeed! Looks like it almost rivals The Hermitage for its ostentatiousness. Not visited this place so it was great to be taken around in your company.

    August 3, 2023 - 8:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, now The Hermitage is something we definitely need to squeeze in someday.

      August 3, 2023 - 8:43 pm Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    This palace looks gorgeous! The clock museum also looks interesting, and they are very ornate as well!

    August 4, 2023 - 6:08 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for checking in Allie. I wouldn’t mind one of those clocks for our apartment, but suspect they might be a little out of my price range 😉

      August 4, 2023 - 9:34 am Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    I like how you built up the anticipation of Dolmabahce Palace by giving us a preview of the exterior followed by the grounds and gardens. It all looks beautiful. It must have been such a wonderful feeling to have the place mostly all to yourselves. The Ceremonial Hall looks exquisite.

    August 4, 2023 - 2:35 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for coming along with me on another Istanbul palace tour. I’m glad it was so sleepy that day, as this is another site that would be ruined by corridors and rooms full of people. Even in a building stuffed full of wow moments the Ceremonial Hall stands out. Cheers!

      August 4, 2023 - 3:13 pm Reply
  • Lookoom

    I like the idea of touring Europe to see what’s being done elsewhere and then returning home to try and do better. It’s not about copying, it’s about being inspired to create something of your own.

    August 4, 2023 - 3:13 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Absolutely. I think anything great (architecture, music, film, fashion, literature) draws inspiration from the past and present in order to craft something new and exciting. In the case of Dolmabahce Palace, the sultan clearly took great inspiration and his palace became quite the gem.

      August 4, 2023 - 3:54 pm Reply
  • travelling_han

    I am SHOCKED at the lack of people Leighton, wow. And the whole palace looks stunning, especially that ceremonial hall, what a place. Just imagine thinking Topkapi is rubbish and building this, the mind boggles.

    August 4, 2023 - 3:20 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Yes, what a character Abdulmejid I was. Sometimes a palace just isn’t luxurious enough. I’m glad Sladja hasn’t been such a diva with the joints we’ve lived in over the past four years 😉 Thanks for dropping in, Hannah.

      August 4, 2023 - 3:56 pm Reply
  • littlelilly

    Wow, thanks Leighton for taking us along on your wonderful tour at the Dolmabhace Palace, with its rich history and stunning backdrop. While reading this and looking at the pictures, it reminded me of my visits to Versailles.

    August 4, 2023 - 5:21 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Lily, thanks for reading and leaving a comment. It seems a lot of people on this thread are reminded of Versailles. Now I have to go!

      August 5, 2023 - 9:50 am Reply
  • Annie Berger

    It’s hard to take in such opulence, especially when it seems to go on forever, isn’t it, Leighton? The palace would overwhelm me but you captured its magnificence beautifully through text and photos. Great post.

    August 5, 2023 - 9:18 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Annie, I think we were lucky in that our visit took place during the heart of COVID. Firstly due to the fact that we had so much of the palace to ourselves. But also in that the security guards were not enforcing the no-photo policy as stringently as usual. Thanks for reading!

      August 5, 2023 - 9:53 am Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    They need a new word that goes beyond opulence. This palace wasn’t on our list I don’t think, but I’ll put it on now 😊

    August 6, 2023 - 5:37 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Maggie, I think it’s definitely worth the effort of seeing both palaces. For the contrast in styles and for the different periods of Ottoman history they represent. I would perhaps just schedule a day or two between the two. I think it would be a real drain to do them back-to-back in a day like some people seem to do.

      August 6, 2023 - 10:09 am Reply
      • Monkey's Tale

        Just re-reading this and a couple other Istanbul posts. We’re heading to this palace today!

        August 15, 2023 - 10:40 am
      • Leighton

        Ah excellent, I hope you have a great time and that it’s not too busy!

        August 15, 2023 - 10:42 am
      • Monkey's Tale

        It’s ridiculously busy. I understand now why so many people were asking if it’s busy with tourists in Central Asia. I feel like I need to revise my answers to say there are almost no tourists in comparison to Europe in the summer! 😊

        August 15, 2023 - 12:52 pm
  • Nic

    When I visited the Dolmabahce palace in November just last year, it was so much busier that it is in your photos. I suppose it was still “pandemic times” when you were in Istanbul. I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and can you believe it I almost skip it? I thought that after visiting the Topkapi – a “truer” Ottoman Place – and have visiting so many regency residents in Europe, I didn’t need to see more of that. I am glad I changed my mind… the interiors didn’t particularly impress me (also no photos were allowed when I visited!). What I found extraordinary was the outside, the views to the Bosphorus, the gardens, the beautiful and intricate facades… Thanks for reminding me of it 🙂

    August 6, 2023 - 10:03 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, we were also in two minds about whether we needed to see both palaces. And like you, yes, we are glad we made the effort to squeeze it in. I think the no photo policy is ever-present, but nobody cared much during our tour. Bigger problems and all that. Great to hear from you again, Nic.

      August 6, 2023 - 10:12 am Reply
  • shortgirlontour

    Wow! the work on the Gate of the Sultan is exquisite! what a stunning place!

    August 6, 2023 - 5:20 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      It is an incredible sight for sure. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment.

      August 6, 2023 - 5:41 pm Reply
  • Rehoboth

    Great writing!

    August 12, 2023 - 9:52 pm Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    What is a palace without an exceptional garden, right? Oh, there is no shortage of bling in this palace and the architect certainly had a love for chandeliers! It’s definitely wow – not only the chandeliers, but also that colourful dome in the Ceremonial Hall. And I like the French piece with the little ship on top in the clock museum. What a grand tour – thanks for taking me along!

    August 14, 2023 - 10:12 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Corna for touring Dolmabahce Palace with me. I would’ve liked to take that clock home with us but apparently it’s a touch too expensive for a peasant like me.

      August 14, 2023 - 12:38 pm Reply
  • Little Old World

    You weren’t exaggerating when you titled your post “Opulence abounds at Dolmabahace Palace”. I’ve visited a fair few palaces and chateaux in my time (including Versailles), but Dolmabahace is just jaw-dropping. My reaction to every photo was “Wow!”. Thanks very much for the tour, I really enjoyed it and learned a lot (I had no idea the world’s biggest chandelier was in Istanbul or that Ataturk died so young). I’ve been wanting to visit Istanbul for years and if I ever make it, I will definitely be heading to Dolmabahace.

    August 21, 2023 - 10:25 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for the kind words. I think that if push comes to shove perhaps Dolmabache ‘just’ has the edge on Topkapi Palace. But it’s absolutely worth visiting both. Appreciate the read and comment! 🙂

      August 21, 2023 - 11:16 pm Reply

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