The magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace dates back to the time of Sultan Abdülmecit I, who entrusted the construction to the Armenian-born architect Karabet Balyan.
The construction began in 1843 and was completed in 1856. Together with thousands of people, the administration and military of the Ottoman Empire then moved to the New Town; but state officials continued to live in the Old Town in Topkapı Palace.
Historical background: The location of the palace plays an important role in the conquest of Constantinople. In a very clever and absolutely unthinkable way, the entire Ottoman fleet moved over the famous shipping road from the Sea of Marmara to the upper end of the Golden Horn over land. The road led from Dolmabahçe over the hills of Kasımpaşa. From there, the Ottomans let the ships slide down.
Dolmabahçe was originally a bay. The harbor granted anchorage to Ottoman fleets, but was also used as a venue for ceremonies. In the 17th century a royal garden with summer residences and several small palaces was built there. To create a summer retreat for the ruling Sultan Ahmed I, they used the earth of the neighboring hill and filled the place of Dolmabahçe with it. Hence the name, which means “filled garden”.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the following proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the palace was made available to the state founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as a seat of government until the administrative move to the new capital, Ankara, and later as a residence. On November 10, 1938, exactly at 9:05 am, he succumbed to his grave illness. The clock in the room in which he died still shows this time.
After Atatürk’s death, the Dolmabahçe Palace was renovated and converted into a museum. However, it is still used for official functions such as state visits.
The Dolmabahçe Palace consists of a complex of buildings that also includes the Dolmabahçe Mosque and a clock tower.