Evliya Çelebi writes that Sultan Yavuz Selim had a mansion built where the Dolmabahçe Palace is currently located. The location was later filled with stones and the mansion was enlarged during the rule of Sultan Ahmet I. The palace and its premise were named after this instance. Sultan Mahmut II had a new palace built in the same location during the 19th century. The palace seen today was built by Sultan Abdülmecit I in 1842 by the architect, Karabet Balyan. Its construction continued until 1853. The palace was originally used for official matters and as the residence of Sultan Abdülmecit. Sultan Abdülmecit’s brother, Sultan Abdülaziz also lived in this palace. After the declaration of the Turkish Republic, the palace became the Presidential Residence of Atatürk in Istanbul and its significance has been preserved since then, as it was the place where Atatürk passed away on November 10, 1938. The Dolmabahçe is comprised of a Harem, Mabeyn, Clock Tower, and the Dolmabahçe Mosque. There are 285 rooms, 46 sitting rooms, 6 bathrooms, and 68 toilets. The palace was built on a 110 thousand square meter area and was upgraded with electrical and heating (radiator) systems.
The banister of the staircase of the Mabeyn is marvelously decorated with crystals. The Throne Hall in the Mabeyn has a crystal chandelier weighing 400 tons and 700 lightbulbs and is hung from the dome of 36 meters. This adds a European tone to the hall as it was a gift by Queen Victoria. The Throne Hall hosted the inauguration of the Ottoman Assembly of Sultan Abdülhamit II on March 19, 1877. Furthermore, there is a corridor in the Harem Section overlooking the Throne Hall.
The palace’s rooms are used for differnt functions. For example, the Blue Hall is used for ceremonies and the Pink Hall is used for ladies’ entertainment. It is said that the 30 meter tall clock tower at the entrance of the palace was only completed in 1895. The Dolmabahçe Mosque was completed in 1853 by the architect, Nikogos Balyan of Balyans, who made many marks on Ottoman architecture. There is also a small mansion, built in 19th century, for the birds of the Sultan located in the backyard of the Dolmabahçe Palace.
The Dolmabahçe Palace has since been transformed into a museum and is under the authority of the National Palaces Administrative Board.
Translated by Mr. Irfan I. KOKSAL