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in Istanbul is special
The main rooms of the building (completed in 1856) are lavishly decorated. The Sultan spared no expense - gold, silver, and fine crystal were freely used.
The room is imposing and impressive. The focal point is the 4.5-ton crystal chandelier (gift of Queen Victoria) that dramatically hangs from the tall dome.
Its striking balustrade is made of Baccarat crystal.
The Sultan's family resided in the harem's sumptuous living quarters.
Why it was built
One reason is the Sultan was desperately trying to convince the world that his Ottoman Empire was modernizing and not crumbling. The more practical reason was to replace the getting-cramped-and-dated Topkapi Palace as the governmental seat.
Dolmabahce Palace is decidedly more European than Ottoman. It's also rather eclectic (French Baroque, Neoclassical, Ottomanesque, and more).
Touring the rooms
They can be seen only by the guided tour conducted by palace staffers.
Dolmabahce translates "filled-in garden". It's built on land that was reclaimed from a bay for use as a garden.
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