Dolmabahçe Palace (Turkish: Dolmabahçe Sarayı, IPA: [doɫmabahˈtʃe saɾaˈjɯ]) located in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Turkey, on the European coast of the Strait of Istanbul, served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and from 1909 to 1922 (Yıldız Palace was used in the interim period).
Dolmabahçe Palace was ordered by the Empire’s 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I, and built between the years 1843 and 1856. Previously, the Sultan and his family had lived at the Topkapı Palace, but as the medieval Topkapı was lacking in contemporary style, luxury, and comfort, as compared to the palaces of the European monarchs, Abdülmecid decided to build a new modern palace near the site of the former Beşiktaş Sahil Palace, which was demolished.
Sultan Abdulmejid was a statesman who set his seal upon a series of the most radical changes ever to be introduced in Ottoman history. The Sultan, brought up in Western cultural atmosphere, proclaimed a reform program, only four months after his accession to the throne, that placed the legal and administrative system of the Empire on a completely new basis and which was to have a very great influence on social life as a whole. His attempts to open up Ottoman society to Western influences were particularly effective in the field of architecture, and the most striking example of the new approach is the remarkable building lying like a piece of the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara.
All the Sultans since Mehmet the Conqueror had resided in the Palace of Topkapı. Mahmud II, however, had preferred the Palace of Beşiktaş as his place of residence, and his son Abdulmejid, having destroyed this palace and the buildings in its vicinity, summoned Balyan Karabet Kalfa and his son, the most distinguished architects of the day, and gave them instructions concerning the construction of a new palace that would combine the Empire style of the day with the distinguishing features of the old traditional Ottoman architecture. The solution they found was indeed an interesting one, and truly artistic in its approach. The general spatial relations were arranged in accordance with the plan of the traditional Turkish house, but an enormous house of 285 rooms and reception halls. Several elements of traditional Ottoman palace architecture were employed but the building was given a definitely Western external appearance.
Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul: More than a museum
The Bosporus or Bosphorus, also known as the Strait of Istanbul, is a narrow, natural strait and an internationally significant waterway located in northwestern Turkey. It forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia, and divides Turkey by separating Anatolia from Thrace. It is the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation. The Bosporus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and, by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, and by the Kerch Strait, the sea of Azov.