Suitcase and World: Ottoman Opulence. The Dolmabahçe Palace. Part 3.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ottoman Opulence. The Dolmabahçe Palace. Part 3.

fter touring the the Selamlık and the ceremonial halls, I exited the Palace on the side of the building that fronts the Bosphorus.

As we exited the grand Ceremonial Hall, the guide had instructed us to follow the signs to the Harem ("h-ah-rem") which are the private living quarters of the Sultan and his family. The Harem was the second part of our tour but my camera battery was about to die and I was not about to forego the opportunity to take pictures - especially since I had paid 6 TRY to bring it with me. So instead of continuing with the same tour group, I bowed out and headed back to the coat check room where I had left my backpack and camera case. By the time I made it back to the Harem, the tour was already underway. I would have to wait 50 minutes to catch the next tour. I took the time to snap some photos and grab a quick drink at the cafe.

 From the outside, the Harem is pretty unimpressive pink and white structure. On the inside, it is a opulent as one would imagine any building befitting a Sultan and his family would be. Before the tour got underway, we were given plastic booties to cover our shoes. In addition to protecting the floors, the booties also served to soften the sounds of footsteps - the tour guide could actually speak without having to shout.

The Harem is comprised of salons and halls for family gatherings as well as private quarters for the family and servants. Like the Selamlık, the Harem was one grand room after another. Gleaming crystal chandeliers and luxe, elegant furnishings filled each room.

The Hall of Royal Women

Private Apartment

The Blue Hall

Royal Apartment where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of Turkey who spent his last days in the Dolmabahçe Palace, passed away. Atatürk died at 9:05 a.m. on November 10, 1938 and all the clocks in the Palace display that time.

The Pink Hall

The Japanese Salon

By the time I left the Harem, I had overdosed on the palatial grandeur of the Dolmabahçe Palace. Its rooms were so extravagant in luxurious furnishings and accessories - beyond anything I've ever seen in my entire life. Just the size and number of crystal chandeliers was mind boggling! Not to mention gold everywhere! The living quarters for the Sultan's family were befitting of their stature. Surprisingly though, even the servants' quarters were given the royal treatment - spacious and richly decorated. The royals and their supporting staff lived well!!

So, is the Dolmabahçe grander than Versailles? I think everyone should answer that question for themselves so if you've not been to either palace, make a plan to visit both and you can compare for yourself.

The End.