Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Istanbul Trip Part 9: Dolmabahçe Palace Main Hall

 Ace woke up today sniffing and with a running nose.. so quickly made him eat ying qiao and also pass him to wand to hang round his shirt...

As I mentioned before, the breakfast place is really small.. previously, one couple offered to push their table over so that the two seater can add one more chair for me, Ace and Max to sit together

Today we tried to wake earlier to get a place.. but still very crowded.. end up me and Ace sit down first.. Max was offered a seat by an Asian looking couple.. who turned out to be SIngpaoreans! Small world!:)

 After breakfast had to rush rush rush to take the tram... today we are going to some palace and if we have time.. maybe take a ferry to the "Asia" side of Istanbul.. as it is straddled between two continents of Europe and Asia.

 Reached the Tram Station!:) But hor, one thing about travelling here is the language hor.. is they recognize me, I dun recognize them one.. I cannot even try to guess what it means because it is nothing close to the languages I know....

 Each trip is about 1.30 sing dollars regardless of how many stops you take.. we found out later that itis better to buy the card as it is cheaper... But well, we arent here for that many days and we really only used the tram ONCE and the MRT once..

 Anyway, the ticketing system here is very cute one.. Max will go to this machine and put money and we are given this token...

 You then put this token into the coin slot.. like when you play arcade like tat.. and then the door will give a beep and you can go in:)

 Inside the Tram..

 Perhaps because of their history, I have found Turkish people to look very ang moh.. I cant really tell them apart from other ang moh...

 Our tram went past the Blue Mosque..

 And also the Maramara Sea..

 I didn't know this then when I took this picture but we will be visiting the tower we see on the right hand side of the picture later in the day..

 Halfway through, a little boy with an accordion came on the tram. He will play in front of each person for a few seconds. The cup in front of his accordian is for you to place your loose change you want to donate to him... Quite a handsome young chap too.. I asked Ace if he feels very priviledged that he does not have to do this to earn a living and can lead a carefree life going to school.... He says he does but yet, one week after we returned to Dubai, he started asking his dad to buy this and buy that again.. wahahaha...

When we arrived and got off at our station, a beautiful sight greeted us:)

 Tulips galore!

 Behind the Tram Station is a boat station... this boats I think can bring us on a trip along the Bosphorus.. to the Asia part of Istanbul... The Bosphorus (/ˈbɒsfərəs/), also Bosporus (/ˈbɒspərəs/), from Greek Βόσπορος (Vosporos); Turkish: Boğaziçi) is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia.

 I find it very interesting that in China, they have police guarding their tulips in the gardens.. in Singapore, you are also not expected to spoil the plants... here, they dun care even if you step in to take pictures... But most people really just take pictures and do not pluck the flowers or anything... and then in one corner, they also allow people to throw feed and put a container of water to rear ducks!  That will defintitely be a NO NO in Singapore man..

 Max was the one who decided where to go.. I totally had no idea where we are visiting.. wahahaha :)

Saw a small mosque and thought we are visiting this mosque.. turns out that this mosque is the Dolmabahçe Mosque. It was comissioned by queen mother Bezm-i Âlem Valide Sultan.

 Whatever, just take photos of all the nice nice flowers first:)

 I find this tower design quite similar to that of the blue mosque... seems like all the mosques here use the blue mosque as a blueprint for their designs...

When we first arrived at the palace, the first thing we saw was this clock tower.. This clock tower (Dolmabahçe Saat Kulesi) was erected in front of the Treasury Gate on a square along the European waterfront of Bosphorus next to the mosque. The tower was ordered by sultan Abdülhamid II and designed by the court architect Sarkis Balyan between 1890 and 1895. This means it is more than 100 years old liao!

 Look at all the detail on the building...

 Welcome to the gates of Dolmabahçe Palace!

A little bit about the palace..

"Dolmabahçe Palace (Turkish: Dolmabahçe Sarayı,) is located in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Turkey, on the European coastline of the Bosphorus strait, served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922, apart from a 22-year interval (1887–1909) in which Yıldız Palace was used...

The Dolmabahçe Palace was ordered by the Empire's 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I, and built between the years 1843 and 1856. Previously, the Sultan and his family had lived at the Topkapı Palace, but as the medieval Topkapı was lacking in contemporary style, luxury, and comfort, as compared to the palaces of the European monarchs, Abdülmecid decided to build a new modern palace near the site of the former Beşiktaş Palace, which was demolished. Hacı Said Ağa was responsible for the construction works, while the project was realized by architects Garabet Balyan, his son Nigoğayos Balyan and Evanis Kalfa (members of the Balyan family of Ottoman court architects).

The construction cost five million Ottoman mecidiye gold coins, 35 tonnes of gold, the equivalent of ca. $1.5 billion in today's (2013) values.[3][4] This sum corresponded to approximately a quarter of the yearly tax revenue. Actually, the construction was financed through debasement, by massive issue of paper money as well as by foreign loans. The huge expenses placed an enormous burden on the state purse and contributed to the deteriorating financial situation of the Ottoman Empire which eventually slided in state bankruptcy with the subsequent establishment of financial control over the "sick man of Europe" by European powers.

Dolmabahçe Palace was home to six Sultans from 1856, when it was first inhabited, up until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924: The last royal to live here was Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi. A law that went into effect on March 3, 1924 transferred the ownership of the palace to the national heritage of the new Turkish Republic. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, used the palace as a presidential residence during the summers and enacted some of his most important works here. Atatürk spent the last days of his medical treatment in this palace, where he died on November 10, 1938."

 I am so fascinated by the intricate details and design of the palace.. look like those european palaces to me...

 Look at the gates.. so pretty!

 Once you enter the first gate, there is a little courtyard which leads you to a second gate... not as pretty as the first gate though...

 First glimpse of the wonderful palace...

 The palace was initially built right beside the sea... apparently they eventually reclaimed some land to build this garden...

 I love this statue..

The palace's front door...

 We had to queue to go in.. we found out later that they only allow you to go in via a guided tour.. cannot go around by yourself one. And then leh, they only allow 3000 visitors a day.. so if you go late, might not even be allowed to go in...

I can totally understand why cos when we went in, many of the floorboards already creaking..

Anyway, while Max queued up, Ace went around with his camera to take pics of cats:)

 THere are apparently many cats in around the palace area..

 And these cats are not docile at all! There was a korean lady who brought along some suasages to feed the cats. These two cats were so fierce and literally fighting over the sausages! I asked Ace not to go too close to the cats and not to frighten it... there was a little girl who did not know better and tried to touch the cat and the cat got upset and scratched her till she bled... poor thing cried and cried...

 I wonder if this is SILVER...

 Finally our turn to go in... have to put on covers on our shoes before we were allowed to go in..

There were two queues.. one for the tour groups and one for individuals like us.. there are these two arabic looking men who queued up in the tour group section.. tried to quarrel and scream and shout their way to entry but hahaha.. too bad lor.. this is not the middle east.. in the end they also LL come and queue up...

 Ceiling of the palace. At first glance like wah.. so many details.. and then.. I later realized they are not carvings... but actually PAINTED DESIGNS!

 According to our guide.. anything you see here in golden colour is made of REAL GOLD.. and all these furnishings are actually from all over the world...

We were told cannot take picture... so had to keep my camera.. you have to make do with pictures from the internet.. hahaha..

 Quick one before I kept my camera:)

We were first shown the secreteriate's room and then we came to this place which is a little room in front of this gate called the "entrance gate".The Sultan used this gate for unofficial, daily comings and goings and already, I think it is SUPER GRAND... I mean I have never been inside a palace and not really seen such lavishness....

Picture from internet

Picture from internet..

We walked around a little bit and they led us up this very very beautiful staircase... This is called the crystal staircase...

There is good reason for this name too! The baroque style staircase, leading from the official entry gate to the Palace's upper sections, has a beautiful crystal balustrade, and topped by a large Baccarat crystal chandelier. This is why it was called the "Crystal staircase". It is also called "Staircase of Sultanate".

Max was so fascinated by the crystal chandelier, he quickly took a shot.. Little did we know this is only ONE OF THE crystal chandeliers in the palace.. they have so many more!!!!

Here is a pic I found from the internet.. swee hor.. so much gold.. look at the staircase railings.. all crystal lor!
Walking up from the staricase, we are brought into this room called the Ambassador room.. 

The Sufera hall (Ambassador's Hall) was used to host formal receptions, meetings and to receive Ambassadors.The ceiling is decorated with gilded plaster moldings, while the fireplaces, at each of the four corners are framed with European porcelain tiles. The crystal pediments of the fireplaces are encircled with carved frames... it even has adjoining toilets and guest rooms for the ambassadors to stay in after party lor!

File:Ambassadors Hall Dolmabahce March 2008 pano.jpg
Picture of the Ambassador's Hall I got from the internet... I already think this hall is super grand and super big lor. I was so so overwhelmed by the lavishness of it, I only remember the carpet. Apparently, the only thing in this whole palace that is made in Turkey is this super big carpet...  

It is called a Hereke Carpet.. Hereke carpets are only produced in Hereke, a coastal town in Turkey, 60 km from Istanbul. The materials used are silk, a combination of wool and cotton and sometimes gold or silver threads.

Everything else is bought from all over the world or given to the sultans as gifts...

Dolmabahçe Aufnahme Innnen
 (Picture from website, 91 days in Istanbul) This is one of the waiting rooms I think.. 

We then visited the rooms of the crown prince. Apparently, the crown prince is given a special room for his use. He will stay in this room till he is 10 years and two months old. And then he will be sent away to live in another palace by himself as he will need to learn how to run the counry.  So poor thing leh..

Picture I found on the internet.. this is one of the living rooms or study rooms similar to how i remembered the crown prince's room..

Then, we were shown the private chambers of the Sultan itself. There are 2 private apartments at the Dolmabahce Palace were allocated to private use of the ruling Sultan. THey are all within the same palace building...

One of these was in the administrative (men's or mabeyn) side of the Palace. This horis the place where he spent his everyday. He ate alone, slept alone, worked alone and basically did everything ALONE in this HUGE HUGE APARTMENT. If he is in need of company, he also does not summon his women here.. they are NOT ALLOWED here.. he will instead go through a special passageway into the Harem section and find them....

Ace couldnt understand why the Sultan did not want to live with his family. I explained to him that they were living in the same building but at the other side called Harem.

Ace said, "But I don't only want to live with my family.... I want to do fun things together with them and spend time with them all the time...." so he saiys if he is king, he surely will not want to stay seperate..

I just think being king here is a lonely affair.. imagine age 10 he is sent away to live on his own.. become king liao also mostly do everything on his own... so what if he had many wives (he had 80 over "wives") ...also still lonely I think...

Then there is a hall where he does things with his family... It is called the Zulvecheyn Hall. This hall was sometimes used for very important receptions. Some of the traditional fast-breaking dinners were given here during the month of Ramadan, and traditional Ramadan evening prayer, "Teravih" was also held in this room. Instructive religious classes were held here just before breaking the fast, prominent religious figures were called upon to elucidate on religious matters to the Sultan.

 The most significant decorative aspect of this hall is undoubtedly the parquet floor which reflect exquisite workmanship and work of art. The floor hor is made of three types of wood... this fancy design you see, they pieced it together by hand as they buld the parquet floor... not a sticker or wat lor!

And then they showed us the Sultan's study room.. and his bath.. wah lau.. sultan's toilet hor.. is just a hole leh.. but hor, the whole thing is carved out in marble.. I wonder how he stand there to do business during winter:)

And then SUltan also got TWO BEDROOMS.. once is for him to stay during winter.. one is for him to stay during summer. dun ask me why he need two diagonal rooms in the same apartment for different seasons even though he has no one to share the room with...


We were taken along this hallway called the memorial hall and they had portraits of many of the sultans...  and of cos of the man who built this palace:)

After that leh, we actually got to go through this special passage that lead from the main hall into the HAREM.. the Harem is where the Sultan's mother and his wives, cocubines, children and their servants lived...  Apparently, in the olden days, THIS PASSAGEWAY is ONLY used by the Sultan himself. No one else allowed to walk through except him!

The grand finale of the tour ended in this really big ballroom called the Muayede (Ceremonial) Hall. It is used to host all state ceremonies, and receptions, especially those held for religious holidays. During the Ramadan and Sacrificial religious feasts, the ceremonial throne would be brought from the treasury of the Topkapi Palace and placed against the far wall of the hall. Following the holiday morning prayer, Sultan would rest for a while in a chamber located on the right of the throne. While he was resting, the state officials would enter the room and assume the places they had been assigned. Before the officials holiday greeting ceremony would begin, Sultan would first accept the well wishes of the princes, and the assembled guests.

The ambassadors would gather in the balcony located just the opposite of the throne, while the other guests would take their places in the left balcony. The palace orchestra would be assembled in the right balcony. The Harem women would gather in front of the windows of the seaside passageway to watch the ceremony.

Apparently, now, they still sometimes use this hall for grand receptions when heads of countries visit Turkey...

The Muayede Hall encompasses approximately 2000 square meters. It is 36 meters high and the dome has a diameter of 25 meters. There are 56 columns in the hall. The Hereke carpet on the floor is 124 square meters, and is of embossed, European design. The Palace's largest, heaviest, and the most magnificent chandelier hangs in this hall. Manufactured in England in 1853, the chandelier holds 664 bulbs, and weighs 4,5 tons. Originally the chandelier was powered with city gas, but it was modified and converted to electricity in 1912. A room leads off from each of the four corners of the hall. The two rooms facing the land have domed ceiling. Six stoke pits under the floor provide the heating.

 We tried to sneak a pic or two cos the hall is really magnificent! SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO beautiful.... and so lavish....

Our pictures do it no justice though.. here are some nicer pics of the hall I found on the internet...






Anyway, these pictures only can give an inkling of how it feels like to be there. best is to be INSIDE... Usually I just think a rich person is rich lah... or a king is like.. a king lah.. but having been inside this palace, I truly start to understand what it means to be REALLY RICH and what it really means to be ROYALTY!

That is the end of our tour. Even though the HAREM is in the same building and connected, you have to join the HAREM tour if you want to see the king's living quarters...

 Once you walk out, the view is really beautiful too:)

 View of the palace from the side where the Ceremonial Hall is..

 Imagine facing the Bosphurous everyday.. shiok man!

SO surprised to walk round the corner and see BAMBOO TREES:)


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