Museums of Istanbul: Dolmabahçe Palace

Despite the rising entrance fees (it is now 40 TL for foreigners to see everything, but you can get into the Palace area for 20 TL by choosing to only see the Haremlik) I have quite often taken Anton, and now Neve too, to Dolmabahçe Palace. The roaming turkeys and peacocks, lush flowers and fountains, stunning views of the Bosphorus and reasonably priced cheesecake make it a place that works as well for me as for them. On this visit my friend Ping came along, which made having two little ones light work. The most enjoyable part for me was finding a place to let Neve wriggle her toes in grass while Anton set up a road network next to views that were once reserved for the mighty.

Usually when I have come here I lose the necessary steel to enter the Selamlık and just stay in the gorgeous grounds. However, it was Ping's first visit here, so we decided to brace ourselves and enter the ugliest interior you are ever likely to experience. If you ever need to have a conversation with your children about there being far more to style than money, here is a good place to start! In an effort to imitate the styles of Versailles and the palaces of St Petersburg, more money than the dwindling Ottoman Empire had to spend was thrown on vulgar displays of wealth. The vast amounts of crystal and marble may have looked spectacular in a time when they were not so easily imitated by kitch cheap plastic and laminated surfaces, and the painted optical illusions just fall flat. The coating of gold creates an atmosphere so heavy you long for the light reflected on the water, which hurts your eyes as you escape through the gift shop. In the Haremlik you can visit Atatürk's death bed with its clock stopped at five past nine and a Turkish flag for bed cover. Here you could have a conversation with your children about not freezing political circumstances to a time in the remote past.

Anton and Ping walking towards the palace

Neve playing on her blanket on the palace lawn

Anton and Neve, objects of attention

Ping holding Neve

Anton watching boats on the Bosphorus

Anton's coastal road by the Bosphorus

Anton telling about the broken cable cars in Maçka park

Ping running with Anton screaming in delight

A view out from Selamlık

Anton enjoying the Bosphorus traffic

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2 thoughts on “Museums of Istanbul: Dolmabahçe Palace

  1. wow what an amazing place!!! the lawns outside by the water are just stunning - from the sounds of inside, no wonder you prefer to stay out there!! love hearing the history of the place too, fascinating!

  2. WOW, how amazing. What a shame the cost is so much. The bottom three photos are stunning, especially the one with Ping running past that huge gate. How lucky are your kiddos.


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