Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Dolmabahçe Sarayı (Palace), Istanbul, Turkey

The Dolmabahçe Palace was constructed, during the reign of the Ottoman Empires 31st Sultan, Abdülmecit I, from 1843 to 1856 and served as the main administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922, apart from a 22 year interval between the years 1887 to 1909 when Yıldız Palace was used.  The name for the palace came about due to it being built on a picnic site (dolma being a favourite picnic dish) and bahçe being garden).

As we walk through part of the gardens to this gateway you get your first glimpse of the palace.


The construction of the palace cost the equivalent of 35 tones of gold, and is the largest Palace in Turkey.  Previously the Sultan and his family had lived at the Topkapı Palace, but as the Topkapı Palace lacked modern up-to-date features the Sultan decided to have the Dolmabaçe Palace built.  The Palace itself is built of marble from the Marmara Island and prophyry ( a variety of igneous rock, consisting of large grained crystals) from Bergama.


All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

Here we can see the gateway to the Treasury, not your average, sized gateway!  Above the gate, the gold and green circular emblem, is the signature (tughra) of Sultan Abdulmecit I, dating from 1853.


Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos inside the palace, which seems a pity, as it was spectacular and totally over the top, and their are loads of photos of the interior on the web, although probably just as well as who knows how many photos I would have taken.


Views from the gardens across the Bosphorus.

All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr



After taking the guided tour around the Palace you then can move onto the Harem, which again is very impressive, but be prepared for this total visit to take you the best part of a day, the guided tours are relatively short, the Palace 45 minutes and the Harem 25 minutes, but the queues are horrendous.  There is a coffee shop outside of the Harem for you to stop at.

All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

The entrance to the Harem, it looks quite plain in comparison to what you will get to experience inside.


Dolmobaçe Palace was home to a total of 6 Sultans from 1856 up until 1924 when the ownership was transferred to the National Heritage of the New Turkish Republic.  Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey,  used the Palace as a summer presidential residence.  It was also here that Atatürk spent the last days of his medical treatment, before he died on the 10th November 1938.


The building behind these clocks once housed a Clock Museum, but I am unsure whether it is still open, it wasn't when we visited.  It is said that when Atatürk died at 9.05am on the 10th November 1938 all of the clocks in the Palace and grounds were stopped and set to 9.05am, although the ones we saw have been changed since.

All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

More views around the garden.



All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

At the back of the gardens were a few aviaries containing some birds, here are one or two.

Some Helmeted Guineafowl from South Africa, so called because of the dull yellow or reddish bony knob on the top of their heads.



And of course, no stately home or Palace grounds would not be complete without the graceful, beautiful Peacocks.

All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr



All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr



All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

Now I have not seen one of these lovely, colourful birds before, it is a Golden Pheasant or Chinese Pheasant, being native to China.


This chicken made us laugh, he seemed to have a real complex with these other very showy birds around and kept strutting his stuff as if to say 'Look at me!'


'Me and my mate'

All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

Finally one of the Peacocks decided to put on a display, had to be one that was in the aviary and not outside, hey ho, such is life!


It was well worth the wait though.


All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

Sorry, this is the last Peacock photo, honest.


I have a thing about windows, I love all of the different, shapes, styles and colours.


All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr


We are now back at the gate in the first shot, which has a walled courtyard with domestic looking buildings. There was a lovely water fountain on the wall, the white of the marble really stood out against the terracotta paint.


All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr



All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

At the entrance to the outer grounds of the Palace stands this lovely clock tower, it was ordered by the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II and designed between 1890 and 1895.  The clock was built by the renowned French clock makers of Jean-Paul Garnier and installed by the court clock master Johann Mayer.


As well as the clock faces at the top, there are two barometers on opposite sides of the tower just below the second tier.


and two thermometers on opposite sides.

All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

Here you can see a very large, bronze cast, Ottoman cannon, these were cast around the 15th to 16th Century and could fire shots of 1,000lbs.


The impressive Gate of the Sultan or Regal Gate, at the entrance to the second area of grounds of the Palace.  There is also a tughra of Sultan Abdulmecit I over this gateway as well, but this one dates to 1854.

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