The Harem of Dolmabahçe Palace

Find here a comprehensive guide to planning your visit to Harem of Dolmabahçe Palace, including what is inside, what are the collections, opening hours, and tickets.

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What is Inside the Harem of Dolmabahçe Palace?

The Harem of Dolmabahçe Palace was where the Ottoman sultan and his family lived isolated. It was in the eastern part of the palace, across from the public selamlık area, and was reached by a long hallway. With its own churches, schools, kitchens, and baths, the harem was its own world. The women who lived in the harem couldn't leave the house without permission from the sultan.

The sultan's wives, concubines, and children lived in the Harem. The Valide Sultan, the sultan's mother, was in charge of the palace and had a lot of power. She was in charge of running the home and raising the sultan's kids. The concubines were women who were not married to the Sultan but could have children for him. They were often bought at slave markets or given as gifts to the king. A group of nurses and eunuchs took care of the harem's children.

The harem was a very fancy and rich place. The rooms had rich fabrics and furniture, and drawings and mosaics were stuck on the walls to make them look nice. There was the best food, clothing, and schooling for the women who lived in the harem. But they also lived in a world full of secrets and rivalries. The sultan's favor changed all the time, and the harem women would often do anything to get it back.

HISTORY of the Harem

Dolmabahçe Palace's Fascinating History and Lifestyle of Harem Life

The Dolmabahçe Palace, built in the 19th century, served as the Ottoman Empire's administrative centre. This architectural marvel, built by Sultan Abdulmecid I, harmoniously combines European and Ottoman styles. The true essence of history, however, appears within the Harem, the secluded quarters.

The Harem, which means ''forbidden'' in Arabic, was an exclusive home for the Sultan's family, concubines, and servants. Its primary function was to provide a secure and secluded environment for the Sultan's family, protecting their privacy and heritage.  It was a secretive world whose walls bore witness to tales of love, intrigue, and power struggles.

Architectural Elegance

When you enter the Harem of Dolmabahçe Palace, you are transported to a world of intricate beauty. The architectural design is a seamless fusion of Western and Eastern influences, embellished with elaborate intricacies that attest to the opulence and elegance of the Ottoman Empire.
The Harem's living quarters, hammams, and courtyards attest to the residents' luxurious lifestyle. The opulent furnishings offer a glimpse into the extravagant tastes of the Ottoman elite, while each room narrates a unique story.

Daily Life in the Harem

The rituals and routines followed by the inhabitants of Dolmabahçe Palace influenced both the history and way of life of the Harem. The Harem, with its unique rules and regulations, social structures, and customs, served as an extension of the empire in addition to being a place of residence.

Women in the Harem were expected to follow a strict hierarchy, with the Valide Sultan, the current Sultan's mother, holding the highest position. Haseki sultans, the spouses of the Sultan, occupied a position of privilege, whereas odalisques, or concubines, belonged to a lower social stratum. The status of every woman within the Harem had an impact on her privileges, access to resources, and the Sultan's focus.

The Sultan, who maintained an important position within this complex social framework, commanded immense authority within the Harem. Caught based on their beauty and intelligence, concubines manoeuvred through a complex structure of allegiances and relationships. With the responsibility of protecting the Harem, the eunuchs provided an additional level to this complex fabric of existence.

Life did not remain stagnant within the Harem, notwithstanding its isolation. Cultural, artistic, and educational endeavours flourished within its confines. Poets, musicians, and scholars were nurtured in the Harem, thereby enriching the cultural milieu of the Ottoman Empire.

Education was important in shaping the lives of Harem women. They were taught calligraphy, music, poetry, and religious studies, among other things. This educational emphasis aimed to produce refined and well-rounded individuals capable of engaging in intellectual and cultural pursuits.

Leisure activities were also an important part of Harem life. Women took up a variety of hobbies, including embroidery, painting, and playing musical instruments. The Harem gardens provided a tranquil setting for relaxation and socialising, allowing women to get away from the confines of their daily lives.

Legacy and Cultural Significance

The Harem of Dolmabahçe Palace is a living testament to the Ottoman Empire's cultural and historical riches. Its legacy transcends time, giving us a glimpse into the lives of those who lived within its walls.

Dolmabahçe Palace's exploration of the history and lifestyle of Harem life is a journey into the heart of Ottoman society. It's a tapestry threaded with passion, power, and cultural refinement. As we wander through the opulent chambers and hidden corners, echoes of the past call us to unravel the mysteries of a bygone era, inviting us to put ourselves in the shoes of those who once called the Harem home.

To summarise, the Harem of Dolmabahçe Palace is more than just a collection of rooms; it is a living chronicle of a society that thrived at the intersection of tradition and modernity. Its walls reverberate with stories, and each step within its walls brings us closer to comprehending the intricate dance of history and lifestyle that took place within this enchanting palace.

Things to Know About the Harem of Dolmabahçe Palace

The Harem of Dolmabahçe Palace is basically was the private living quarters of the Ottoman sultan and his family.

>>> For more information about history and what is inside

Where is the Harem Located?

It is located in the eastern part of the palace and was separated from the public selamlık section by a long corridor.


Adress: Vişnezade, Dolmabahçe Cd., 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul

How Much are the Ticket Prices?

Entrance fee for foreign tourists: You can enter with Istanbul Welcome Card or any Istanbul City Pass Card, or its 650 tl.

Entrance Fee For Domestic Tourists: Museum Card or 90 tl.

How Long Does a Visit to the Harem Take?

Expansive structures take 2 hours; visitors can complete the whole harem section in approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
To see the whole palace, an average visit takes 4 to 5 hours.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Harem?

Best Time to Visit the Harem of The Dolmabahçe Palace: in the morning before the crowds arrive.
You should avoid weekends, especially national holidays.

History of Dolmabahçe Palace [with Brief Overview]
Dolmabahçe Palace Atatürk

Select Your Ticket & Tours

Skip-the-Line Tickets to Dolmabahce Palace with Ottoman Harem Section
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Highlights Tour of Dolmabahce Palace & Ottoman Harem Section with Skip-the-Line Tickets
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Istanbul: Dolmabahçe Palace Admission and Guided Tour
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Dolmabahce Palace & Harem Skip-the-Line Ticket and Audio
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