About this image: Dolmabahce Palace on the European shores of the Bosphorus strait. One of Istanbul’s architectural treasures, it is too, the dream of a sultan that bankrupted an empire.
Abdülmecid I – the sultan in question – either delighted in architectural eclecticism or could not decide on a favourite style for his new property venture. Twined with traditional Ottoman architecture, there is a sprinkle of Baroque to quell the nostalgia for 16th century Italian charm; Rococo for a touch of Versailles-style French playfulness; and Neoclassical, because all architectural roads lead to Athens. Apparently.
Every boy likes his accessories and when you wear a crown, spending thirty-five tons of gold on a new toy could hardly be deemed excessive. Nothing says “I’m the Ottoman Empire’s 31st sultan” better than a 45,000 square metre monoblock palace with gold-leaf gilded ceilings to match luxuries and styles that the 19th century could only begin to imagine.
And here’s where the magic happens…
The harem was less of a surprise given the location of this otherwise very European palace, but crystal staircases?