At the European coast of Beşiktaş district of Istanbul lies Dolmabahçe Palace, the largest palace in the country, once home to mighty sultans and used as a Presidential residence of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey.
Its location at the shore of Bosphorus and the well-tended gardens are an attraction itself, but upon entrance and throughout the palace grounds, it is the intricately decorated towering gates – the Gate of the Sultan (Saltanat Kapısı), The Gate of the Treasury (Hazine-i Hassa Kapısı), Gate to the Bosphorus, that will caught anyone attention.
A self-guided audio tour will bring visitors inside the palace many reception halls and salons. The interior decorated mainly with gold and crystal, with fourteen tons of gold used to gild the ceilings and boasting the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world. Photography is not allowed inside.
Built to negate the declining power and wealth of Ottoman empire, the overall exuberant aesthetic very much leaned towards the European style of royalty, hence, a lot of people do compare Dolmabahçe Palace to the likes of Versailles in France.
There are ferry terminals nearby Dolmabahçe Palace, and combining the visit with Bosphorus Tour do make a lot of sense and highly recommended when planning on how to navigate Istanbul and see as many landmarks as possible. There is no need to book a day trip, I went to Dolmabahçe Palace on my own and after my visit went to the nearby Kabatas Ferry terminal to do the Bosphorus Cruise.
Taking the Bosphorus Tour is actually seeing Istanbul on full.
With the Bosphorus Strait dissecting the city on two continents, Europe and Asia and linking the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, whether you selected the full tour or the half, a day cruise or a night one, this is an activity that cannot be missed.
Navigating the calm waters of Bosphorus Strait together with other commercial and tourist vessels, passing by under suspension bridges, the cruise stops at point of interests on both Europe and Asian side. There is a commentary or short description provided on the sights along the way and the captain will often announce that he will place the boat close to the shore for passenger to have a better view.