Dolmabahce Palace, a blend of many European architectural styles, was built between 1843 and 1856 by Karabet Balyan, the chief architect ofSultan Abdulmecit. Ottoman Sultans owned many palaces and pavilions but the Topkapi palace was the official residence Yet, after the completion of the Dolmabahce Palace, it was abandoned. The three-storeyed palace built on a symmetrical plan has 285 rooms and 43 halls. There is a 600 metre-long quay along the sea, and there are two monumental gates one of which is very ornate ( the one on the land side ). In the middle of the palace surrounded by well-kept gardens, is a large, elevated hall used for meetings and balls. The wing near the entrance was used fort he Sultans receptions and meetings, and the wing on the other side of the ballroom was the Harem.The palace has survived intact with its original decorations, furniture, silk carpets, curtains and everything else. In wealth and magnificence the Dolmabahce Palace surpasses all other palace in the world. The walls and ceilings are covered with paintings by the famous artists of the age with decorations made by using tons of gold. All the furnishings in the major rooms and halls are in different tones of the same colour. Very ornate wood parquet, different in each room, covers the floors. Famous silk and wool carpets of Hereke, some of the finest examples of the Turkish art of carpet weaving, are spread on the floors. Rare handmade object d;art from Europe and the far East decorate every room in the palace. Brilliant crystal chandeliers, candelabra and fireplaces add to lavish decor. Of the six baths in the palace, the one used by the Sultan is made of unusually rich looking, specially carved alabaster marble.
The ballroom is the largest of its kind in the world. A 4.5 ton giant-sized chandelier hangs from the 36 metre-high dome. The hall, which is used for important political meetings, balls and signing of treaties, used to be heated by a heating system under the floor until electricity and central heating were installed later. The upper galleries of the hall were reserved for orchestras and the diplomatic corps. Long hallways lead to the Harem section of the palace where the bedroom of the Sultan, the quarters of his mother, the quarters of the ladies of the Harem and the servants were located. The hallways leading to the Harem have many consecutive doors. More than six hundred paintings hang on the walls in the palace. The fourth and the last extension of the palace is as large as the Harem and it was used as quarters of the Crown Prince.
The entrance to this section is from outside the palace complex and today, it houses the Museum of Fine Arts. ATATURK, founder of the Republic of Turkey, used tos tay in this palace during his visits to Istanbul. When he died here in 1938, before his body was taken to Ankara, he laid in state here so that his people could have a chance to pay their last respects to him. All the clocks in the palace were stopped at 9:05 a.m., the time of his death, in memory of this great Turk. The palace which is a museum, today is open on certain days of the week, and it is one of those historic : places in Istanbul that must be seen.
There are collections of the precious objects used by the sultans and members of the palace in everyday
life and during ceremonies. Some of these have been taken out of storage anda re being displayed in two different rooms. Most of these gold, silver and crystal objects, teasets and table settings, dresser sets and other decorative objects are of European origin and each one is a very valuable piece of art. The rear gardens of the palace and the aviary, along with some of the mansions here, have been renovated and and opened to the public.