The Dolmabahce Palace, a blend of various European architectural styles, was built between 1843-1856 by Karabet Balyan,the court architect of Sultan Abdulmecid. The Ottoman sultans had many palaces in all ages, but the Topkapi was the official residence until the completion of the Dolmabahce Palace.
The three-storied palace built on a symmetrical plan has 285 rooms and 43 halls. There is a 600 meters-long quay along the sea and two monumental gates. The entrance section of the palace was used for the receptions and meetings of the sultans, and the wing behind was used as the harem section.
The palace has survived with its original decorations, furniture, and the silk carpets and curtains. The walls and the ceilings are covered with paintings by the famous artists of the age and decorations made using 40 tons of gold. All the furnishings in the important rooms and halls are in different shades of the same color. The ornate wooden floors have different designs in each room, and they are covered with the famous silk and wool carpets of Hereke, some of the finest examples of Turkish art.
The ballroom is the largest of its kind in the world. A 4.5 ton colossal crystal chandelier hangs from the 36 meters-high dome. The hall, which is used for important political meetings,receptions and balls, was previously heated by an oven-like system under the floor.
In the Republican era, Ataturk used to reside in this palace when he visited Istanbul. He died here in 1938 and before his body was taken to Ankara, it was laid in state while the public poured in to pay him their last respects.