Merve took off work one day while I was staying with her so she could show me a little bit more of her awesome city, which was super nice of her. (Among everything else she did for me while I was there.) She was pretty intent on showing me Dolmabahce, her favorite palace!
I had definitely never considered Dolmabahce Palace slash had never even heard of it. It’s pretty overlooked by tourists in favor of the more popular Topkapi Palace. I didn’t go to Topkapi, but I did get in line for a ticket so that I could get away from a Turkish suitor who didn’t know his own birth date, but as soon as he turned to walk back to his father’s carpet shop, I ducked under the rope and went back to doing my own thang.
I don’t know that guy, but I think he would make this his profile pic.
The grounds themselves are an impressive part of Dolmabahce. A gorgeous fountain, lush vegetation, a beautiful view of the Bosphorous, and various flightless birds (peacocks! grouse?? I don’t know, but I hope this hot guy sitting near me sees me Googling landfowl right now.) and stalker-ish cats provide plenty to look at before you even go inside.
Dolmabahce is the largest palace in Turkey and was used as the main administrative office of the late Ottoman Empire until the Caliphate was abolished in 1924. After that, it was used as a summer residence by the first president of the Turkish Republic, Ataturk, until he died there on the fateful day of November 10, 1938.
Fun fact: all the clocks in Dolmabahce are set at 9:05 which is the exact time that Ataturk died.
Another fun fact: every November 10th at 9:05 am, everyone in Turkey stops what they’re doing for a minute of remembrance. Even if they’re driving!
The highlight of the tour was probably the chandeliers, which are reason enough to take a tour of the place…even Sia would be impressed. But DO NOT swing from the chandeliers and DO NOT even THINK about taking a picture of any of them or ANYTHING in that place. Not allowed. They will tackle you. I saw it.
Merve and I both had a hard time understanding our English-speaking tour guide. It was clear she gives this tour a lot, but her speech was a little too theatrical, while she remained completely dead in the eyes, if that makes sense. Her lecture on not taking photos inside was pretty clear, though, and she gave it multiple times. After the tour, we heard her talking to a couple and her English was pretty flawless, so evidently her accent is affected when she is performing.
Luckily, Merve had been to the palace a couple times before so she could tell me all the interesting tidbits that I would’ve wanted to know. We wandered around the grounds for a little while longer and I was definitely glad to have a personal tour guide.
I would absolutely suggest hitting up Dolmabahce, especially if you want to avoid a few people. The line at Topkapi that I ducked out of was long compared to no line at all at Dolmabahce. There were plenty of people at Dolmabahce and they WILL hog the benches as you try to slip little plastic baggies over your shoes, and they WILL continue to take pictures inside when your tour guide specifically says not to, but then you’ll just have an excuse to do it yourself. Wink.
Someone tell me the highlights of Topkapi. I was told I should go, but I was also told not to bother. I don’t feel like I missed anything by skipping it. Is that fair to say??