Saturday, September 2, 2017


Dolmabahçe, Beşiktaş - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°02'19.7"N 28°59'58.3"E / 41.038806, 28.999528



The Mabeyn where the sultan conducted affairs of state is the most important section in terms of function and splendour. The entrance hall known as the Medhal Salon, the Crystal Staircase, and the Süfera Salon where foreign ambassadors were entertained prior to audience with the sultan in the Red Room are all decorated and furnished in a style reflecting the historical magnificence of the empire. These apartments include a magnificent hamam faced with Egyptian marble, a study and drawing rooms.

Mabeyn-i Humayun is where state affairs take place and the most important and also prominent section in terms of function and splendor. There is very large hall at the entrance, a crystal staircase and other decorative elements to impress the visitors. A couple of large halls upstairs decorated with crystal chandeliers, Hereke carpets and fireplaces, and a fine imperial Hamam ( Bath ) decorated with Egyptian alabaster are other impressive parts of the Selamlik section.


GPS : 41°02'20.9"N 28°59'54.4"E / 41.039136, 28.998439


There are two main gates of Dolmabahçe Palace’s landside. Sultanate (ceremony) Door and Treasury Door. Sultanate Door is bigger and more magnificent. The door’s main feature is its being concave both from inside and outside. There are five more mansion doors of the palace. The middle one is bigger and ornate compared to the others. It is across to the Muayede Hall. Also, there are seven secondary enterance doors in the palace.

The gate used by the Sultan and other high ranking officials to enter and exit the Palace is referred to the “Binek” Gate, (the Entrance Gate). Sultan used this gate for unofficial, daily comings and goings, whereas he used the Medhal Hall gate to leave for, or return from official, religious ceremonies or rites. In case Sultan intended to make a land trip, one of his royal carriages (landau or brougham) would be ready in front of the gate of the Entrance Hall. If he decides to make a boat trip with a caique (a traditional boat), then the gate facing the Bosphorus Strait would be used. These two gates were also used by the Palace officials when entering and leaving the palace.


GPS : 41°02'17.1"N 28°59'49.3"E / 41.038070, 28.997040

Treasury Door is located at the Clock Tower side and combines Muhafızlar and Eski Mefruşat houses. It look magnificent with its huge size and ornements. It is the main enterance with epigraph and sultan’s signature (tuğra).

MEDHAL HALL (Main Entrance)

A visit to the Dolmabahce Palace begins at the Medhal Hall. The word “Medhal” means “entry” in Turkish. From the Medhal hall, several rooms facing both the Bosphorus and the land sides, can be accessed. At the entrance, Medhal Salon welcomes the visitors, Crystal Stairs provides the connection with the upper floor, and Sufera (ambassadors) Salon is the guest room where the ambassadors were entertained and Red Room is where they were admitted by the sultan and it is all decorated and furnished to emphasize the historical splendor of the Empire.

Rooms facing the Bosphorus were used by leading Ottoman officials, the Grand Vizier and several other state ministers, while the rooms facing the land were used by various administrators of the palace and state officials such as the Palace Marshall, Sheikhulislam (the leading religious authority), and members of the House of Representatives (Meclis-i Mebusan), and the Senate (Meclis-i Ayan). Guests who were invited to attend a ceremony or a meeting in the palace, would first wait in this hall and then would be led inside at a proper time by a palace protocol officer.

Upon entering the Medhal hall, visitors will see on either side of the room the Boulle tables which bear the monogram of Sultan Abdulmecid who commissioned the palace. The Royal monogram of the Sultan is also repeated in the plates on the fireplace, in the dark blue Sévres vases, and over the doors. The English chandelier hanging in the middle of the room has sixty arms. The large porcelain vases standing to the right and left were manufactured in Yildiz Tile and Porcelain factory located in Istanbul. The Hereke fabrics used as upholstery for the furniture and as draperies, are in the Royal shade of red.


Geometric panels was used to partition the ceiling over the oval room. The European fireplace with its pink background is flanked on either side by two consoles that bases a pair of French opal vases bearing the Baccarat mark and the date 1869. On each side of the hall, there are symmetrical baroque style staircases, one leads to the rear court garden, and the other lead the way to the basement facing the beautiful Bosphorus.

The Hall was decorated with white lacquered, neo-classic style furniture. Hereke carpets and rugs were used for the upholstery and draperies. The 45 square meter Hereke carpet is made of wool representing the perfection of Gordes knotting technique. Upon leaving the Entrance Hall, on the right we come across a room that was used as the office of the chief aide-de-camp during the Second Reform Period. The second room was used by his assistants. The Turkish History Association used this second room as an office during the early days of the Republic.


As visitors walk from the Medhal hall to the right, they come to a second room, the Clerk’s Hall, also referred as the “Tiled Room”. Hanged on the left wall is the largest painting of the Palace collection; a depiction of the “Surre Procession” painted by Stefano Ussi in 1887. The word “surre”, which actually means coin purse, bag, or sack, was used to refer to the caravan organized right from the early years of the Ottoman Empire, that traveled from Istanbul to Mecca during the religious month of Recep, carrying financial aid used to support the maintenance and decoration of the Kaaba, and to provide help to the local population of Hecaz.

On the wall to the right is a painting signed by Austrian artist, Rudolph Ernest, depicting the fire at the Paris Municipal Theatre, and on the opposite wall there is another painting depicting a Dutch girl by Delandre. Decorated with French style furniture, this room has very valuable porcelain vases some of which manufactured in Istanbul factories and others originated from far east and Russia.

The first room to the right as visitors leave the Clerk’s hall is the room used by the Chief Secretary of the Palace during the Second Reform Period. A gilded French clock stays on a mirrored console in front of the room. As visitors exit the Chief Secretary room, they come to the Clerk’s Room used by the clerks under the Chief Secretary. On the wall hangs a rug depicting the borders of the Ottoman Empire at the close of the 19th century.



The baroque style staircase, leading from the official entry gate to the Palace’s upper sections, has a beautiful crystal balustrade, and topped by a large Baccarat crystal chandelier. This is why it was called the “Crystal staircase”. It is also called “Staircase of Sultanate”. As visitors ascend the crystal staircase they reach to the entrance of Sufera (Ambassadors) hall. The ivory and silver candelabra, incense holder standing in front of the door, was a gift of Ahmed Ratib Pasha, the governor of the Hejaz in Saudi Arabia, to Sultan Abdulhamid II.

A protocol staircase in harem which provides a passage from Harem to Entrance hall and Muayede (Grand Ceremonial) Hall. Sultan used this staircase after the religious ceremonies taking place at the Muayede Hall, on the way to the Blue Hall in the Harem where he greeted his family, and Harem members for the religious festivity. The staircase, in line with its function, is ornamented with cross vault, and illuminated by a French Baccarat chandelier, so gorgeous with its red crystal glass covers.


Leading from the Sufera Hall are two small chambers located on the Bosphorus side of the Palace. These rooms were set aside for the use of the Crown Prince.


Two private apartments at the Dolmabahce Palace were allocated to private use of the ruling Sultan. One of these was in the administrative (men’s or mabeyn) side of the Palace, while the other was located in the family quarters, the Harem. These rooms were called ” Hunkar “, or ” Hususi ” (privy) apartments. The ruling Sultan used these apartments as a daily office area and a place to receive his guests, dine, rest, and bathe as well.

The private apartment in the administrative wing included the ” Zulvecheyn ” hall. The word “zulvecheyn” is an Arabic word which means “double fronted”. This name was given to this hall due to fact that it is situated adjacent to both Administrative and and the Harem quarters.

Zulvecheyn Hall was sometimes used for very important receptions. Some of the traditional fast-breaking dinners were given here during the month of Ramadan, and traditional Ramadan evening prayer, “Teravih” was also held in this room. Instructive religious classes were held here just before breaking the fast, prominent religious figures were called upon to elucidate on religious matters to the Sultan.

The most significant decorative aspect of this hall is undoubtedly the parquet floor which reflect exquisite workmanship and work of art. On each side of the door are consoles embellished with Istanbul mother-of-pearl relief. These consoles were moved here from the Ciragan Palace. A gilded table with legs carved with the relief of mythological animal figures, holds a dark blue Sérves vase. The tops of the small tables in front of the couches along the wall facing the sea are made of “malachite”. This is one of the rare examples of such excessive use of a such precious stone.


This room was used by the Sultans as a private chamber where they dined, prayed, and received their personal guests. However, between the years 1922-1924, Caliph Abdulmecid used this chamber as a music room. Inside there is a painting signed by Caliph Abdülmecid himself, depicting the dethronement of Sultan Abdulhamid II. Other significant items found in the room, are the collection of classical western music notes stored in the built-in-closet, and the portrait of Pierre Loti hanging over the console.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk spent the last days of his life in the palace as his health deteriorated. He died at 9:05 a.m. on November 10, 1938, in a bedroom, located in the former Harem section of the palace. All the clocks in the palace were stopped and set to 9:05 after his death. Although this has changed recently and the clocks outside of his room are now set to the actual time in Turkey, the clock in the room where he died is still pointing to 9:05 a.m.


The passageway connects six interconnecting corridors and two halls and has a total of eight doors, two of which are made of steel. The passageway leads to the Sultan’s apartment where palace functionaries, called “musahib” (gentlemen-in-waiting) maintained continual watch. The walls of the passageway are decorated with several paintings signed by Ottoman and foreign artists.


Next to Zulvecheyn hall is a room used as a private library by Caliph Abdulmecid. In addition to the collection of books written in Ottoman language, the library contains books in many other languages, French, German and English. On the walls, some photographs and a self-portrait painted by Caliph Abdulmecid himself, are hanging.


This room was used by the Sultan to take a short break, and relax for a while amidst his works. The floor is covered with parquet in honeycomb design. Lyre-shaped chairs and the Neo-classical Berger seating arrangements are of interest. This room was also referred as the “Bird Room” , both because it overlooks the palace’s aviary and because its drapery cornices are decorated with bird relief. The tile stove in the room was made by Hardmunt. The room contains various musical instruments of which the most significant is the Steinway piano made in 1911. This piano bears the monogram of Caliph Abdulmecid.



The entrance door of the bath was decorated on either side by Bohemian crystal sconces. Sultan’s Bath is made up of three interconnecting rooms. The first room which as also called the “cool” room, is the changing room where Sultan undresses and rests after bathing. The heating stove in the room is decorated with ceramic plates in Baroque style. To the right of the door is a hanging French made pendulum brass clock.

The door leading to the second area of the bath is covered with red broadcloth bearing the monogram of Sultan Abdulmecid. This monogram signifies that; ” one is entering an area that is private to that of the Sultan”. This door leads to the “warm” section of the bath, in which there are two chambers. The first is called the hot changing area was also used for resting. Next to this is the main chamber of the bath; the “hot section”.

The walls of the hot changing area and the hot section are covered with Egyptian Alabaster marble which has a translucent quality while the floor is covered with Marmara marble. The ceiling is in a ship vaulting style, which has been covered by a glass and steel construction framed with steel. The ceilings of the cool and the warm rooms have the light piercing “elephant eye” openings used in the domes of traditional Turkish baths. The bath was heated by a system located underneath the floor called stoke pit method.


The last chamber in the Sultan’s apartments which was used as a passageway, is located in between the Harem and the Grand Ceremonial Hall. Today this chamber is referred to as the “Memorial Hall” because of the portraits of Sultan Abdülmecid, who commissioned this palace, his father, Sultan Mahmud II, his brother Sultan Abdülaziz, and Sultan Mehmed Reşad V. The walls are also decorated with Ottoman coats-of-arms that were embroidered with a variety of techniques.

On the table is a German / Berlin KPM (Royal Porcelain Manufacture) vase, a gift of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who visited Istanbul three times. On one face of the vase is a portrait of Wilhelm, and on the other face there is depiction of Pos tame Place. The other german vase has the portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm I. In addition to these two vases, there are also two bronze sculptures of two emperors; Wilhelm I of Germany, and Franz Joseph of Austria.


In the last years of the Ottoman Empire, this room was used as a dining hall by cariyes (maids-in-waiting). Today this room is being as an exhibit hall where some of the valuable items selected from seven thousand items that make up the palace collection, are on exhibit.


This hall was used as pantry/supply depot of the palace. Today, this hall is being used as an exhibition hall where some of the personal items of the Sultans are on exhibit. Especially precious dinner service sets are flash, made of gold, silver, gold plated, porcelain, crystal, and many other precious metals.


The word “Mescit” refers to a section of a house or a building which is used for Islamic ritual of worship (namaz). The Mescit room of the Dolmabahce Palace is quite unostentatious, yet very stylishly decorated. On the right wall is a panel bearing the “Besmele” (inscription meaning: “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”). Other walls are also decorated by several calligraphic works of Sultan Abdulmecid. The brilliant chandelier is made of Italian Murano glass.

In front of the “Mihrab”, the niche indicating the direction to Mecca, Kaaba (the direction for worship), stand two Ottoman “rahle”, Qu’ran reading stands, and prayer rug handmade in Khorasan. The English clock standing between the two windows has a walnut case. Next to mescit is the room for resting. Here, blue is the main color which was used in the furniture and drapes. The table, adorned with fruit baskets, is an example of the fine workmanship of Italian Petre Dure’s stone repoussé art.


GPS : 41°02'24.7"N 28°59'57.9"E / 41.040191, 28.999421


Smith  as of 1852 he had helped procure materials from foreign countries for the palace, and had worked especially on the monumental staircase and its roofng can be traced in the documents. Finally, in the years 1853-1854, he built the Dolmabahçe Palace Camlı Köşk (Glass Pavilion) and the Alay Pavilion for Sultan Abdülmecid. Camlı
Köşk was realized as a viewing pavilion that allowed the Sultan to see the street.

The winter garden that gave its name to this special pavilion must have been an annex suggested by Smith. This köşk is the only structure opening onto the outside world beyond the palace. The light structure of the conservatory of Camlı Köşk contrasts strikingly with the heavy and blind structure of the rest of the building, as if designed to place the two architectural techniques side by side to achieve the most startling impact.


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