How much money can one Sultan spend? (Answer: ALL of it!)

Istanbul Travel Blog

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Ornate entrance gate at Dolmabahce Palace.
In 1853, Sultan Abdul Mecit (later credited with bankrupting the Empire) gave his architect free reign and an unlimited budget to build a structure that would “surpass any other palace” in the world. The result was Dolmabahce Sarayi, an over-the-top extravaganza of architecture reminiscent of Versailles with a splash of Versace. It’s indescribable, but I will try anyway.  

First of: the entrance fee. This place was the priciest we have encountered thus far, with tiered levels based on how much you want to see. We opted for a tour that included Selamlik and the Harem, which cost us 20YTL per person. I also had to pay a 6YTL camera fee  -- no kidding. Video cameras cost more (15YTL!). Unfortunately I didn’t even bring my good camera, because I didn’t feel like carrying it today.
Price board at Dolmabahce Palace. OUCH!
So I paid 6YTL for crappy shots from my crappy camera. Dang.

Another note: you have to join a tour to see the place. It's included in the entrance fee. Tours are conducted in English or Turkish (although our guide was also relaying the information in Spanish to a small group from Spain. He was one of those guys who speaks 10 languages.) It says right on the sign not to argue about the tour times, which means you may have to sit and wait awhile. You would think for what they charge you would get a smaller group, but our group had at least 40 or 50 people…way too crowded. Since our guide was a rather nervous speaker, and spoke softly, so it was often impossible to hear what he was saying.

The palace was just ridiculous. It has grandiose stairways with crystal balusters, hundreds of priceless chandeliers (including one that weighed 4.
One of 500 chandeliers in the palace.
5 tons!), specially commissioned European paintings, enormous hand-loomed carpets, intricately painted and carved ceilings, alabaster hamams…etc.  Everywhere I looked, I saw amazing details. Everywhere. And the place was HUGE. Incredible.

So this was a pretty incredible place. If we had to do it again, we would have saved the extra money we spent to visit the Harem. It was nice, but really was more of the same that we had seen elsewhere.

We decided to walk home from there even though we knew it might take several hours. Anything to avoid that bus and the traffic. On the way, I finally found a place to cut my hair, so I stopped there while Steve walked on. I was so happy with my haircut (and it was only 20YTL) I decided to stay for a manicure and pedicure too.
The Arnavutkoy neighborhood on the Bosphorus.
Good day…I needed it!

I then walked about half way home, then jumped on a bus. It was getting late and I was expecting a guest… My friend Lisa is coming from Minneapolis (the one and only Lisa who also joined us for the China leg of this trip). I made it home and later got a call from Lisa who was having communication issues with the taxi driver. She thought he didn’t know where to go and was asking for direction. Turns out he knew right where to go and thought she was unhappy with the air conditioner setting! Oh, the miscommunications we experience on the road! Anyway, she finally made it and we had a great evening on the balcony, drinking wine and eating all the leftovers from the frig. It’s our last night in the apartment -- tomorrow we embark on our west coast road trip!

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Ornate entrance gate at Dolmabahce…
Ornate entrance gate at Dolmabahc…
Price board at Dolmabahce Palace. …
Price board at Dolmabahce Palace.…
One of 500 chandeliers in the pala…
One of 500 chandeliers in the pal…
The Arnavutkoy neighborhood on the…
The Arnavutkoy neighborhood on th…
Entrance to Dolmabahce Palace.The …
Entrance to Dolmabahce Palace.The…
Guards at Dolmabahce Palace.
Guards at Dolmabahce Palace.
Guards at Dolmabahce Palace.
Guards at Dolmabahce Palace.
Dolmabahce Palace fountain and pal…
Dolmabahce Palace fountain and pa…
The gate to the Bosphorus. This is…
The gate to the Bosphorus. This i…
Cleaning chandeliers is full time …
Cleaning chandeliers is full time…
The Crystal Staircase (named for i…
The Crystal Staircase (named for …
Another incredible chandelier at D…
Another incredible chandelier at …
There was a huge maintenance staff…
There was a huge maintenance staf…
Area above the Crystal Staircase.
Area above the Crystal Staircase.
All the ceilings had detailed carv…
All the ceilings had detailed car…
Huge chandelier over a relatively …
Huge chandelier over a relatively…
Another fancy room at Dolmabahce P…
Another fancy room at Dolmabahce …
Carved alabaster in the Sultans h…
Carved alabaster in the Sultan's …
Carved alabaster in the Sultans h…
Carved alabaster in the Sultan's …
The sultans hamam.
The sultan's hamam.
Carved alabaster in the Sultans h…
Carved alabaster in the Sultan's …
Ornate ceiling detail.
Ornate ceiling detail.
This is the head maids bedroom. S…
This is the head maid's bedroom. …
Another painted ceiling example.
Another painted ceiling example.
Windows in the Ceremonial Hall.
Windows in the Ceremonial Hall.
The Ceremonial Hall can accomodate…
The Ceremonial Hall can accomodat…
A glimpse of the 9000 lb chandelie…
A glimpse of the 9000 lb chandeli…
Ship passing on the Bosphorus.
Ship passing on the Bosphorus.
Pretty sure this is called the Pin…
Pretty sure this is called the Pi…
The room where Ataturk (founder of…
The room where Ataturk (founder o…
One of the wives rooms.
One of the wive's rooms.
Tourists watching the guard. Hes …
Tourists watching the guard. He's…
Water front in the Arnavutkoy.
Water front in the Arnavutkoy.
Lisas here!
Lisa's here!
Researching for our roadtrip.
Researching for our roadtrip.
Istanbul
photo by: Memo