Cairo: A Truly Charismatic and Fascinating Travel Destination
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  CAIRO, the exotic beautiful capital city of Egypt, is one of the most fascinating cities and the mystical atmosphere of this ancient chaotic city of contrasts mesmerizes you. Cairo has everything for a traveler, and you may start your exploring the enchanting city by experiencing the spectacular light and sound show at the Giza pyramids of Khufu, Khafra , and Menkaure and be a part of the  [...]

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Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul

Posted on December 30, 2010 | Historic DestinationNo Comment



Nestled by the side of the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait, the Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most prestigious imperial structures of the 19th century. It is an apt icon of the splendor as well as the extravagance of the Ottoman Empire. Previously, the site of the Dolmabahce Palace was a bay, which as reclaimed for designing an imperial garden with some famous pavilions called the Besiktas Waterfront Palace complex for the Ottoman sultans. By the way, ‘Dolmabahce’ in Turkish language means ‘Filled Garden’.

This palace has all those features that a Sultan requires – big and extravagant, 285 rooms, several big salons, 46 halls, a Bohemian glass chandelier, 600 oil paintings, 6 baths (hamam), 68 toilets, and coastal facade. Considering the Ottoman royal palaces in the world, this one is the grandest of all. The Dolmabahce Palace encompasses three different sections namely, the Mabeyn-i Humayun (Selamlik or the men quarters), the Harem-i Humayun (state apartments of the Sultan’s family), and Muayede Salonu (ceremonial halls). Other attractions include the popular Crystal Staircase that is like a double horseshoe, several Hereke palace carpets, and 150-year-old bearskin rugs from Russia.

Your visit to this grand Dolmabahce Palace starts at the Medal Hall (Main Entrance Hall). The rooms off the Medhal are in the direction of the sea as well as land. Those towards the sea were of the principal Ottoman executives and the state ministers, whereas those facing the land were of the palace and state administrators. I was waiting in this hall for some time. A palace officer then led us within to the Medhal where many Boulle tables were lined on both room edges and bearing atop the monogram of Sultan Abdülmecid on the fireplace. Check out here for the English chandelier exactly in the middle, which boasts 60 arms. In the royal red shade, the Hereke fabrics as the furniture’s upholstery and the draperies.

From the Medhal, you will first come across the Secreteriat’s Rooms. From the Medhal, the Clerk’s Hall to the right is commonly called the ‘Tiled Room’. On the left wall, explore the largest painting of the palace, which shows the Surre Procession – caravans traveling to Mecca from Istanbul in the sacred month of Recep. To the right, a painting on the wall can be seen signed by Rudolph Ernst, which shows the Paris Municipal Theater in fire. There is one more painting of a Dutch Village Girl. And yes, it is here that you will find the French style furniture including the precious porcelain vases. One of the must see zones is the Atatürk’s room where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of Turkey took medical aid during the last days. He died at 9:05 am and the clock here is still pointing to this time.

The Ceremonial Hall is a huge square foyer adorned with a big Hereke carpet as well as a lofty crystal chandelier given by Queen Victoria. This was the venue of critical state and religious ceremonies. The invited foreign ambassadors used to stay in the upper galleries. As women were not permitted here, they used to watch from the long corridor’s windows, which linked Harem with the Selamlik and was guarded all 24 hours to ensure no access. Harem was only accessible by the sultan and today contains sultan suites, quarter of the Queen mother, concubines, rooms for official wives, and education rooms for children.

Apart from the main palace, you can also see other edifices in the complex like the Crown Prince rooms, imperial kitchens, stables, barracks, flour mill, pharmacy, aviary, plant house, glass manufactory, greenhouse, clock tower, carpet workshop, and Dolmabahce Mosque. And yes, do also explore the gardens entered via any of the two monumental gates: Treasury Gate and Imperial Gate.

Charges

Admission is via Turkish Lira. The cost for exploring Selamlik as well as the Harem is 20 Lira per visitor. In addition, you will be asked to pay for kiosks and smaller exhibitions that are on the palace grounds, which will be in the range of 2 to 4 Liras.

Timings

Morning 9 to afternoon 3; closed on Mondays and Thursdays.

Guided tours

Compulsory, available at an interval of 10 to 15 minutes.

Duration

2 to 3 hours.

Cafes

There are many on the grounds for you to relax.

Rules

No photos or films allowed.

Reaching here

The cheapest way to get here is via the Zeytinburnu-Kabatas tram that operates between Sultanahmet Square and the palace. Alternatively, you can amble from the Taksim Square and go downwards for a mile. However, the ascent back up the hill is strenuous.

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