Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most visited museums in Istanbul. In this article, you can find brief information about the history and architecture of Dolmabahce Palace. In addition, Dolmabahce Palace entrance fee and visiting hours were also noted.
You can also buy tickets for a guided group tour for skip-the-line entrance to Dolmabahce Palace from the links in the article.
The History of Dolmabahce Palace
The history of Dolmabahce Palace begins with Sultan Abdulmecid leaving the traditional Topkapi Palace in the 19th century. A new palace was built on the shores of the Bosphorus under the influence of westernization in the Ottoman Empire.
Ottoman Istanbul in 19th Century
Towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, in the 19th Century, the Westernization movement was powerful. For the Ottoman people who lived in Istanbul Old City, “Europe” was in the northern bank of the Golden Horn.
Life quality in the other part of the city surpassed the Historical Peninsula after Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid left Topkapı Palace in 1856 and moved into Dolmabahce Palace, which was built in the western architectural style.
While Muslim population in the Historical Peninsula was living a modest and conservative life, Pera (Beyoglu) quarter was regarded as Paris of the East due to parties, balls and art events held there.
Grand Rue De Pera (Beyoglu, Istiklal Street, Galata)
In this period, luxurious hotels like Pera Palace, gorgeous mansions and banks were built and elegant shops & restaurants opened. The cultural richness of this period can best be seen in Grand Rue De Pera, today known as Istiklal Avenue. Beautiful consulate buildings, mansions, hotels and restaurants are still there.
Pera began to be occupied by foreign settlers. Italian, French, Orthodox Greek, Armenian and Jewish people settled there. Eventually Istanbulites began to call the “Pera” as Constantinople due to its western lifestyle.
The Architecture of Dolmabahce Palace
The architecture of the Dolmabahce Palace is nothing like the previous Ottoman palaces. Especially those who visit Topkapi Palace will notice the difference between Classical Ottoman Architecture and 19th century buildings.
“Dolma” means filled or stuffed and “Bahce” means garden in Turkish lenguage. The site of the Dolmabahce Palace was obtained by filling the small bay on the Bosphorus giving the palace its name.
Chief architect Garabet Balyan managed to combine the Oriental and European styles. The lifestyle and protocol were Oriental but the architectural plan was taken from European palaces. Balyan also combined various architectural styles forming the eclectic architectural outcome.
Imperial Dolmabahce Palace consists of 285 rooms and 46 halls. The massive building covers an area of 25 hectares / 62 acres. There are nearly 600 unique paintings and very beautiful huge Turkish carpets specially woven for this elegant court.
The palace’s equipment implemented the highest technical standards of its age. Gas lighting and water-closets were imported from Great Britain, whereas the palaces in Europe were still lacking these features at that time. Later, electricity, a central heating system and an elevator were installed.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s Room
During the Turkish Republic time, the palace was used for foreign statesmen and democratic cultural activities.
Founder of the nation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, occupied a room at the palace on his visits to Istanbul and died there in 1938. His room is visited by millions of Turkish people annually.
Financial Crisis In The Ottoman Empire
The construction of the palace was at a time when the economy of the Ottoman Empire was not at all good. This difficult situation was not taken into consideration while construction. The materials used at the palace were very expensive and imported from different countries.
Among the valuable items were vases from Sévres, Lyon silk, Baccarat crystals, English candelabra, Venetian glasses, German and Czech Bohemian chandeliers and furniture in the rococo style.
The reception hall with its five and a half-ton English chandelier, the hamam and the crystal banisters are of outstanding importance in the palace.
Great View From The Bosphorus
The Dolmabahçe Palace is an impressive building facing the sea with very high walls on the side facing inland. The main building is surrounded by magnificent palace gardens. There are nine gates on the inland side, two of which are monumental. On the front facing the sea there are five gates.
The palace was intended to be symmetrical in plan and decoration which was not something new. However with this palace the focal point is the sea. The building was constructed to be seen from the sea and it is this feature which is new and unique in Ottoman Architecture.
Dolmabahce Palace Entrance Fee 2021
Dolmabahce Palace entrance fee is 90 Turkish Liras as of 2021. If you want to visit the Harem section, you will have to pay 60 TL extra. The fee for the combined ticket including the Palace, Harem and Clock Tower is 120 TL. The ticket price includes an audio guide system.
In addition, there is another combined ticket that costs 150 Lira. This ticket contains another section called “Museum of Palace Collections” where the paintings are displayed on top of the places I have mentioned in the top lines.
After receiving the ticket you will see the turnstiles at the entrance of the palace. You can get a free audio guide system from the office on the left before you pass the turnstiles.
Skip The Line Tickets for Dolmabahce Palace
The 7-month period from April to November is Istanbul’s high tourism season. During this period, there is a long ticket queue in front of popular museums.
It is possible to skip the lines at Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace by taking the Museum Pass. However, Museum Pass Istanbul is not valid for entrance to the Dolmabahce Palace. For this reason, I recommend you to buy Skip The Line Tickets for Dolmabahce Palace. In this way, you can visit Dolmabahce Palace with a guided group.
Those who have skip-the-line tickets meet with their guides at the gate and enter with the group. So you don’t wait in line and listen to the history of the Dolmabahce Palace from a licensed tour guide. You can use this link if you want to buy an fast track entry ticket to the Palace.
Museum Pass Istanbul is not valid at Dolmabahce Palace
Istanbul Museum Pass is a product sold by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It is valid in Istanbul’s most important museums, such as Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.
Dolmabahce Palace Opening Hours 2021
Dolmabahce Palace opening hours are between 9:00 in the morning and 18:00 in the evening. Dolmabahce Palace ticket offices are closed 60 minutes prior to closing time. Last entry time is 17:00. Please note that Dolmabahce Palace is closed on Mondays.
Depending on Covid-19 measures, there may be changes in the entrance hours of the museums in Istanbul. Before going to the museum, I recommend you to visit the official website of the palace and review the latest situation.
How To Get Dolmabahce Palace from Sultanahmet Old City?
If you are staying in the Istanbul Old City (Beyazit, Sultanahmet, Sirkeci, Eminonu). You can take the Tram T1 in the direction of KABATAS. The Dolmabahçe Palace is within 5 minutes walking distance from Kabatas Tram Station (Terminal Tram Stop)
First take the tram in the direction of “Kabatas” from Sultanahmet
Tram crosses the Galata Bridge and arrive to Kabatas
- Please check Istanbul Tram T1 article for more information about using the tram.
Dolmabahce Palace Entrance Fee 2020-2021 By Serhat Engul