Dolmabahçe Palace

Address: Dolmabahçe Caddesi, Beşiktaş, Istanbul, Turkey
Telephone: 0212 236 90 00

- Expensive


Lavish imperial residence with a stunning waterfront view.

Gaudy with chandeliers – including a 4.5-ton monster that’s the biggest in the world – candelabras, and gold, this lavish waterfront residence, while far less elegant to my eyes than its predecessor, Topkapı Palace, is worth a look to see what the last sultans thought would give them a more modern and European image. The final seat of the Ottoman empire also saw the end of another era; Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, died in the palace in 1938 and all the clocks in the building are stopped at the hour of his passing.

Value for money

Price advice

Admission is by guided tour only; the main one costs 20 lira and is all I’d recommend paying for unless you have a special interest in Baroque architecture or the late days of the Ottoman empire. It’s an extra 20 lira to see the Crystal Pavilion and the Clock Museum, and yet another 20 lira to take pictures.

Expert tips

Unlike at Topkapı Palace, the harem is not particularly special. If you have limited time, just take the tour of the selamlık, which comprises the men’s quarters and the building’s ceremonial halls.

Recommended for

  • Couples
  • Families with teenagers
  • Mature travellers
  • Great views / scenery
  • Art
  • Design and architecture