When the Ottoman sultans wanted to update their living space, they moved from the sprawling Topkapi complex on Seraglio Point to the more classically proportioned Dolmabahce Palace, also known as Dolmabahce Sarayi.
The sultans lived here from 1856 to 1922. With its columns and pediments, the opulent palace has a very European appearance, and the interior is a mid-Victorian statement in over-the-top luxury.
Gilt, marble and crystal abound. A particular highlight is the world’s largest crystal chandelier hovering over the center hall, a gift from Queen Victoria. Guided tours lead from waiting rooms to the offices of the Grand Vizier and other ornate apartments looking over the sea.
The palace has a special place in the hearts of modern-day Turks, as the leader Atatürk made the palace his home and it was here that he passed away in 1938.
Dolmabahce Palace is on the European side of the Bosphorus, in the district of Besiktas. You can reach the palace by catching a tram from Sultanahmet Square, or by ferry. A guided group tour is required to step inside Dolmabahce.