Tag Archives: Ottoman

Dolmabahçe Palace – Istanbul, Turkey


Dolmabahçe Sarayi

(90)  212 236 9000
Vişnezade Mh., 34357
Beşiktaş, Istanbul, Turkey


9:00 am – 4:00pm Tuesday, Wed, Fri, Sat  & Sundays
Gate of the Sultan

Fourteen tonnes of gold leaf building in the ceilings and the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers – including world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier in the Ceremonial Hall (Muayede Salonu); a gift from Queen Victoria, this chandelier holds 750 lamps originally powered with city gas converted to electricity in 1912 and weighs 4.5 tonnes – Dolmabahçe Sarayi (meaning filled garden) was ordered by Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-61) to compete with the grandness of European capitals.

The palace was built between the 1843-1856 by Garabet Amira Balyan and his son Nigoğayos Balyan; the Balyan family was a dynasty of Ottoman imperial architect; of Armenian ethnicity, the Balyans are responsible for the architectural westernization of Constantinople.

Dolmabahçe is the largest palace (45,000 m²) in Turkey, and the first one built in a western style.  Its designed in the Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles, integrating Ottoman elements.

Charles Séchan (1803-1874) who, under Charles Garner also decorated the Paris Opera, was responsible for the interiors of the palace.  He proceeded to integrate European furniture, Petre Dure and Sèvres porcelain, similar to that which was in French palaces and villas.  All of this was quite unusual for Ottoman architecture and showed the European lean of the Sultan.

Dolmabahce-Palace_020Gate of the Treasury


Among its many treasures are  the Hereke carpets collection. These heirlooms are very large and are made in Anatolia with wool, camel hair and silk on cotton, as well as silk on silk.  The knots are very small in size, permitting  highly detailed patterns.
The famous crystal baluster staircase has the shape of a double horseshoe and is built of Baccarat crystal, brass and mahogany.

Dolmabahce-Palace_051Staircase of Sultanate or Christal Staircase


After the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924 and the creation of the new republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk used the palace as a residence until his death on November 10th 1938 at 9:05am. all the clocks in the palace are currently stopped at this time.

Guided tours run every 15 minutes.  Be prepared, they will rush you and no chastise you if you start to wander around !




Dolmabahce-Palace_149side of Sufera (Ambassadors) Hall

Dolmabahce-Palace_108-(1)Ceremonial Hall (Muayede Salonu) World’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier


Dolmabahce-Palace_105Ceremonial Hall (Muayede Salonu)

It was in the Ceremonial Hall (Muayede Salonu) that, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk made his first speech to the people of Istanbul as the president of the Republic.  When Ataturk died, his body was placed in this hall in a casket for the public to visit to express their condolences.



During the Ottoman period this room was the Sultan’s winter bedroom; now it contains Atatürk’s deathbed. Located in the former Harem section of the palace,  a silk covering  with the Turkish flag embroidered in gold and silver and bequeathed to the palace by Olgunlastirma Institute commemorates the venerable leader.


Dolmabahce-Palace_081Sultan’s Hamam; the walls are made of Egyptian Alabaster marble and  the floor is covered with Marmara marble



Central part of the front facade which faces the Bosphorus
Dolmabahce-Palace_127Gate to the Bosphorus



Sultanahmet Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey


Sultanahmet Mosque

Sultanahmet Cami, 34122
Sultanahmet, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey


daily except during daily prayers


Visible from many spots around Istanbul, the Sultanahmet Mosque dominates the skyline. Commonly, it is known as the Blue Mosque, because of the blue ceramic tiles of different tulip designs, from Iznik city (Nicaea), that line it’s interior.

Sultan Ahmed I, had it built between 1609 and 1616 over the site of the ancient hippodrome and the palace of the Byzantine emperors.  Facing the Hagia Sophia, the Sultanahmet Mosque was desigened by royal architect Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa.

The  tablets on the walls are inscribed by the  17th century calligrapher Ametli Kasım Gubarımare with the names of the caliphs and verses from the Quran. One will also find beautiful examples of Arabic calligraphy by Seyyid Kasim Gubari.

The upper levels of the Mosque’s interior are dominated by blue floral drawings and stained glass windows. The coloured glass for the windows was a gift from the Signoria of Venice to the sultan.   Unfortunately time and poor taste have replaced many of the windows with modern versions with little or no artistic merit.

The mosque has six minarets each with three balconies (Called Şerefes).  This was unusual, and a cause of public unrest, as most mosques only have four minarets. Six was a number reserved only for Mecca.  As a good solution, more more minarets where added to Mecca – and the conflict was settled!

The design of the Sultanahmet Mosque is the culmination of over two centuries of both Ottoman and Byzantine temple development.  It incorporates Byzantine elements, from the neighboring Hagia Sophia, with traditional Islamic architecture.  This wonderful structure is considered the last great mosque of the classical period of the Ottoman Empire.

The Blue Mosque is an active religious site, so it’s closed to non worshipers for a half hour or so during daily prayers.   Before stepping in to Mosque, be sure to take off your shoes, women should bring a large scarf to cover the head and shoulders (but if you forget  you can rent one at the door).  In a kind of kitchy but fun actvity,  you can book  a photo shoot with traditional Ottoman Costumes in the Blue Mosque via the Ottoman dream studio.

The Sultanahmet Mosque is on the must see list of any good site-seeing tour of Istanbul.  It is a true marvel and a testament to builders of another age.  The complexities of its vaults and tiling is a site to behold.