Visiting Dolmabahce Palace

As you approach the palace the beautiful gardens designed in a French style, strike you first. There are beautiful white garden lamps lining the pathway. Rare flowers bloom in large vases and you can see conifers and magnolias planted around the garden. Just opposite the entrance to the palace is a large formal pool with an elaborate ornamental fountain in the center of the pool. You can see the majestic palace rising before you from the garden. The facade of the Dolmabahce Palace is dream like in its beauty.

The balconies and columns of bluish white marble set against the background of the blue sky and azure waters of the Bosphorus creates a stunning effect especially when the glittering golden rays of the sun strike it. You may freely take photographs here, for once inside you will not be allowed to use your cameras. There are porters in the foyer that takes care of your cameras as you visit the palace.

Before you enter the palace area you will be asked to wear blue nylons over your shoes so that the floor does not get dirty. The first place you see is the huge entrance hall or the Medhal Salonu. An enormous chandelier, weighing 4.5 tons, made of French Baccarat crystals hangs in the center of the hall. There are crystal light fixtures rising from the floor to the ceiling in the four corners of the hall. The whole area glitters with the light reflected from these chandeliers.

At the foot of the staircase on the opposite side are two porcelain vases on either side. Other picture vases can also be found in the middle of the hall. These are made in the Yildiz Porcelain Factory in Istanbul. This is the area where visitors were welcomed officially and it was only open to men.

During the Sultan's time, Dolmabahce Palace was graced by many distinguished visitors like the Empress Eugene of France, Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austrian- Hungarian Empire, the Grand Duke Constantine, Bulgarian King Ferdinand, Serbian King Peter the Shah of Iran, Edward Prince of Wales and Charles de Gaulle etc. Most of them came to repay visits made by the Sultan.

The grandeur of the staircase will immediately strike you as you proceed to climb it on your way to the upper chambers. The upper chambers housed the bedrooms, bathrooms, and the harems where the Sultan lived with his wife, children and concubines.

The ornamental handrail made of crystal, the gilt carvings, the carpet, all add to the overall beauty of the hall. As you move up, you face a glass-folding screen behind which lies the private apartments or Maben Salonu. This too is a large spacious area richly adorned and lavish in its decor. A large Baccarat chandelier hanging from the ceiling again catches your attention and as you look up you can see exquisite gold sculptures and carvings on the ceiling. These were made by the best French and Italian artists of the time. In the four corners of the room are four more baccarat crystal lamp fixtures with 30 lamps each. Four big open fireplaces adorn the four corners. These fireplaces are decoratively framed with thousands of beveled crystals. All these crystals reflect light throughout the day, throwing up various patterns to the wall, creating a magical effect.

You must not miss the large carpet in the center of the room - almost 17 by 6.5 mts. - made in the famous Herek factory of Istanbul. There is a large dining table with silver flowers on a fruit pot. Other attractions in this chamber are two big silver braziers called 'mangal' and two huge white bear skins that were a gift from the Czar of Russia. Nicholas II.