Exotic, inexhaustible and dynamic – East meets West head-on in this mesmerising city metropolis, famed for its extraordinarily rich history, superb food and shopping, and mind-blowingly magnificent, over-sized mosques.
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Istanbul, Marmara Region, Turkey|www.millisaraylar.gov.tr|
This luxurious, modern ‘European’ palace on the banks of the Bosphorus was built on the order of the Ottoman Empire’s 31st Sultan, Abdulmecid I, and was built between the years 1843 and 1856. An extraordinary and unique architectural curiosity, the Dolmabahce blends Ottoman architecture with Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical details – it’s overwhelming to the point of kitsch, and so lavish that it bankrupted the Empire.
Don’t trust the clocks: they all say 9.05, stopped at the hour when the Turkish revolutionary statesman Ataturk died here on 10 November 1938.
Getting there & doing it
The palace is a five-minute walk from Kabatas station, the last one on the tram line, or take the funicular down from Taksim Square to the Kabatas station. There is a daily quota of 3,000 visitors to the palace, so go early, especially in peak season, to avoid disappointment.
There are two parts to the palace, the Selamlik (the official public rooms) and the Harem (private chambers). There are free audio guides available at the entrance. Allow around two hours to see the palace. This is a huge complex, so wear comfortable walking shoes.
When to do it
It’s open all year round, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Monday. In summer do arrive as it opens, not only to be sure of getting a ticket but to avoid long queues in the hot sun.
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The great civilisations of the past have left a legacy of constructions that still stand out and inspire. Built without the wonders of 20th-century technology, many are also monumental feats of engineering; others offer such grace and beauty, that they’ll literally take your breath away.