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Everything you need to know about Dolmabahce Palace harem

Dolmabahçe PalaceDolmabahce Palace Harem

What is the Dolmabahce Palace Harem? 

The Dolmabahce Palace Harem was the private living quarters of the Sultan, his mother, his wives, children, concubines, and other favourites. This ornate section of the palace was heavily guarded and only the Sultan was allowed to enter. Decorated with glass, crystals, and gold, the lavish rooms of the harem have excellent views of the palace gardens and the Bosphorus Strait.

Quick facts about Dolmabahce Palace Harem

Dolmabahce Palace Harem

Official name: Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

Address: Dolmabahce Palace, Vişnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahçe Caddesi, Beşiktaş, Istanbul, Turkey

Date of opening: 7 June 1856

Timings: Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 AM – 4 PM

Architect: Garabet Baliyan, Nigogoyas Baliyan, and William James Smith

Architectural style: Ottoman, Baroque and Rococo 

Number of visitors per year: 1.5 million visitors annually

Why visit the Dolmabahce Palace Harem?

Dolmabahce Palace Harem
  • Historical significance: As the private living quarters of the Sultan and his family, which included the Queen Mother, his wives, children, and concubines, the Dolmabahce Palace harem was the unofficial centre of power of the Ottoman Empire. Kemal Mustafa Ataturk, the first President of Turkey, also had a room here and died here after a period of illness.  
  • Elegant architecture: Like the rest of Dolmabahce Palace, the harem too was designed with an eclectic blend of Rococo, Baroque, and Ottoman architectural styles, making it a striking example of architecture. With elegant and ornate interiors and decor, every room has a regal aura that epitomizes the rich opulence of the Sultans’ lifestyles.
  • Lavish decorations: The lavish decorations made of gold, crystal, and Baccarat glass accentuate the harem's elegant architecture. Hereke rugs made of a blend of silk, cotton, and wool lend an air of royalty with their bright colours and ornate designs. Sparkling crystal chandeliers grace the rooms while the ceilings have intricate gold decorations. 
  • Beautiful views: The harem provides beautiful views of the Bosphorus Strait on one side and the palace gardens on the other. There is also a bird garden in the palace garden with exotic birds, beautiful statues, and water bodies, which can be seen from the harem. With the sea on one side and exotic gardens on the other, this opulent palace is quite beautiful.

Highlights of Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

Pink Hall

The Pink Hall was an important room in the Harem as it was where the Valide Sultan (Sultan's Mother) met her guests. This formal and opulent room faces the Bosphorus and is lavishly decorated with gold, crystal, and a beautiful crystal chandelier that adds grace and elegance. The room was later also used by President Kemal Ataturk.

Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

Blue Hall

The Blue Hall, previously known as the Imperial Hall, was where important religious ceremonies were celebrated. Located on the top floor of the harem with lavish decorations and beautiful views of the Bosphorus, it symbolized the influence of its occupants in the Ottoman Empire. The Valide Sultan or the Sultan’s queens entertained the wives of visiting foreign dignitaries in this room.

Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

Ataturk’s room

Kemal Mustafa Ataturk, the first President of Turkey, spent his last years in a room in the Dolmabahce Palace harem. His room is the simplest and most austere room in the palace. He lived in what is now known as Room 71 from 1927 until his death on 10 November 1938. The clocks in this room always show 9.05 AM, commemorating the time of his death.

Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

Harem gardens

Interspersed with fountains and beautiful statues, the gardens surrounding the Dolmabahce Palace harem are an oasis of tranquillity. They have a natural landscape with many trees, shrubs, and plants as well as beautiful flowerbeds and fountains. The gardens also feature a stunning waterfront terrace, a clock tower, and a birdhouse, and provide beautiful views of the Bosphorus and Istanbul’s skyline.

Dolmabahçe Palace Harem
Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

Bird Garden

The Bird Garden has a variety of birds including peacocks, pheasants, and swans. Located in the north of the palace, between the Harem and the Selamlik (administrative section of the Palace), this garden is very peaceful and has lots of trees including linden, magnolia, and chestnut with a round pool at the centre, making it an ideal home for the birds. Visitors can walk around the garden and watch these birds in their natural habitat.

History of Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

In the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was influenced by European culture and this is reflected in the westernized and modern aspects included in Dolmabahce Palace, including the harem. This is the only Ottoman palace to have the harem integrated into the main palace building, making it revolutionary in its layout. This L-shaped structure is lavishly decorated and makes up two-thirds of the entire palace. It has 6 huge hamams (Turkish baths) made of Egyptian alabaster, decorative hallways, and lavishly decorated elegant rooms, some of them with beautiful views of the Bosphorus and the palace gardens.

Architecture & design of Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

Dolmabahçe Palace Harem

The architecture of Dolmabahce Palace harem, like the rest of the palace, is a mixture of the ornate Baroque and Rococo styles blended with the Ottoman style in such a way that it created a style of its own. The harem features intricate pillars, hallways, and apartments that were lavishly decorated with gold, crystal, and glass sourced from all over Europe and Asia. 

Unlike other traditional Ottoman palaces, the Dolmabahce Palace has the harem section integrated with the main building, making it the only one to do so. Extensively decorated with gold and crystal, the harem is the personification of royal opulence.




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Frequently asked questions about Dolmabahce Palace Harem

What is the Dolmabahce Palace harem?

The Dolmabahce Palace harem housed the historical residential quarters of the Sultan, the Queen Mother, his queens, children, concubines, and other favourites. This section covers two-thirds of the entire palace building.

Where can I buy Dolmabahce Palace harem tickets?

You can visit the Dolmabahce Palace harem by buying Dolmabahce Palace tickets online.

Can I visit Dolmabahce Palace harem with Dolmabahce Palace tickets?

Yes, access to the harem is included in the Dolmabahce Palace tickets.

Who designed Dolmabahce Palace harem?

Renowned architects Garabet Baliyan and Nigogayos Baliyan designed the Dolmabahce Palace harem as part of the palace complex.

When was Dolmabahce Palace harem built?

The Dolmabahce Palace harem was constructed as part of the palace building from 1843 to 1856.

What’s inside Dolmabahce Palace harem?

The Dolmabahce Palace harem makes up two-thirds of the entire palace building. The private apartments of the Sultan, Valide Sultan (Sultan’s Mother), his wife and children, favourites, and concubines were found in this section of the palace. Some of the interesting rooms include the Pink Room, Blue Room, and Ataturk’s Room.

What can I do at Dolmabahce Palace harem?

Visiting the Dolmabahce Palace harem is a great way to understand the lifestyle of the Ottoman Sultans and how their family structure functioned. The lavishly decorated rooms are eye-catching and steeped in history. The decorations and views from this side of the palace are a must-see.

What are the timings of Dolmabahce Palace harem?

The timings of the Dolmabahce Palace harem is similar to that of the Dolmabahce Palace. It is open from 9 AM to 4 PM from Tuesdays to Sundays. It is closed on Mondays.

Where is Dolmabahce Palace harem located?

The Dolmabahce Palace harem is located inside Dolmabahce Palace building.

Is Dolmabahce Palace harem wheelchair accessible?

Yes, wheelchair users can access the Dolmabahce Palace harem.