Dolmabahce Palace is a jewel located on the Bosphorus shores of Istanbul. The palace, which started operating in 1856, was the place where the sultans lived in the last years of the Ottoman Empire.
Topkapi Palace in Sultanahmet hosted the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. However, as the shores of the Bosphorus gained importance in the 1800s, the Ottoman throne was also moved to the Dolmabahce Palace.
You can find information about the history and architecture of Dolmabahce Palace in this article. In addition, Dolmabahce Palace entrance fee and opening hours are also noted.
You can also buy Dolmabahce Palace skip-the-line tickets for fast access to the palace from the link at the end of 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.
1. Ottoman Istanbul in 19th Century
Westernization gained momentum in the 19th century Ottoman Istanbul. 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 Sultan Abdulmecid left Topkapi 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.
2. Beyoglu and Bosphorus
Beyoglu and Bosphorus became the symbols of the new lifestyle. Neo-Classical and Baroque-style buildings were built and French-style cafes and restaurants were opened in Beyoglu, which was known as “Pera” at that time.
Pera became a place where foreigners lived. French and Italian merchants (levantines) and Ottoman citizens, Greeks, Armenians and Jews created a new culture in this district. The Ottoman bureaucracy and sometimes even the Sultan himself participated in the events in the Pera district.
Foreign embassies, noble families and merchants in Pera had mansions on the shores of the Bosphorus. Thus, the shores of the Bosphorus underwent a great change in the 19th century and were filled with colorful mansions.
Observing the change in the city, Sultan Abdulmecid decided to build a new palace to replace the traditional Topkapi Palace. Thus, the construction of the magnificent Dolmabahce Palace on the Bosphorus began.
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.
The 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.
Dolmabahce Palace Entrance Fee 2021
Dolmabahce Palace entrance fee is 120 Turkish Liras as of 2021. If you want to visit the Harem section, you will have to pay 90 TL extra. The price of the combined ticket, which includes the palace and the harem, is 150 TL. The ticket price includes an audio guide system.
In addition, there is another combined ticket that costs 200 Turkish 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.
Dolmabahce Palace Opening Hours 2021
Dolmabahce Palace opening hours are between 9:00 in the morning and 18:00 in the evening. The 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 visiting 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.
Dolmabahce Palace Skip-The-Line Tickets
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 purchasing Istanbul Museum Pass. However, Museum Pass is not valid for this particular museum. For this reason, I recommend you to buy skip-the-line tickets for Dolmabahce Palace.
Those who have fast track 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.
How to Get to The Palace?
Dolmabahce Palace is located in the district of Besiktas and right next to the stadium of the Besiktas Football Team. It is very easy to get to the palace from Taksim Square and Sultanahmet, which are the most touristic districts of Istanbul.
You can use the tram to get to Dolmabahce Palace from Sultanahmet. When you take the tram from Sultanahmet Tram Station in the direction of “Kabatas”, you can get off at the last stop, Kabatas. It takes only five minutes to walk from Kabatas Tram Station to the palace.
In order to go to Dolmabahce Palace from Taksim Square, you can take Funicular F1 to reach Kabatas in minutes. You can reach the palace in a few minutes by following the coastline from Kabatas Tram Station.
Written by Serhat Engul