Reopened in a newly renovated space in the Crown Prince’s apartments of Dolmabahçe Palace, the National Palaces Painting Museum showcases the collection of paintings of the national palaces.
The building itself is impressive. On the waterfront of the Bosphorus, at the northeast end of the Dolmabahçe Palace complex, it was the Crown Prince’s apartments during the reign of Sultan Abdulmecid. Providing the crown prince with his own housing served two purposes: to transition the young prince away from the women of the Harem once he became of age and to begin transitioning him into wider society. It was, in a sense, a halfway house. Other sultans also used the building for various purposes.
The painting museum spans two floors and is divided into several sections:
- Westernization in the Ottomans: follows growing ties between the Ottoman Empire and the West, starting in the 18th century.
- Caliph Abdulmecid / Istanbul Views. Housed in the library of the last of the Ottoman crown princes and the caliphate of the Ottoman Empire, Abdulmecid Efendi. With deep appreciation for art and culture, this library was his treasure. The paintings focus on Istanbul by local and foreign artists.
- Paintings Bought from Goupil Gallery for the Palace. Sultan Abdulaziz purchased the works here from the Goupil Gallery in Paris, and they reflect his personal tastes.
- Ivan Konstantinovic Ayvazovski Hall. This impressively decorated hall features the work of Russian painter Ivan Konstantinovic Ayvazovski.
- Court Painters. This area features the court painters favored by various Sultans.
- Orientalist Painters / Attraction of the Orient. These paintings depict views of the East by Western artists.
- Aide-de-Camp Painters. The paintings in here have a military flavor.
- Turkish Painters. A highlight of the museum, this theme is split into two periods, 1870 to 1890 and 1980 to 1930. It features the works of several generations of Turkish painters, including two works by Osman Hamdi Bey.
Photos of the National Palaces Painting Museum
What to Know Before You Go
- The museum is part of the Dolmabahçe Palace complex and a ticket to the palace includes entry to the Painting Museum.
- The Painting Museum is closed on Mondays and Thursdays. Other days it’s open 9 to 5.
- Unlike the other areas inside the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Painting Museum is self-guided–no need to wait for a scheduled guided tour.
- The Dolmabahçe Palace is easily reachable via tram (T1 line to the Kabataş stop). You can also get there by ferry, boarding at Eminonu and getting off at Kadikoy Pier. It’s then a short walk past the Istanbul Naval Museum to the main entrance of Dolmabahçe Palace.
- You’re not allowed to take photos or videos inside the building.
- Official website.
Want to Read More About Istanbul?
Istanbul is a city of extraordinary depth and history. If you’re looking to dive deeper, here are some books worth a look. (Some are also available as audiobooks—great for a long flight or train ride.)
Istanbul: Memories and the City, by Orhan Pamuk
In this memoir, the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author reflects on his childhood and youth in Istanbul, offering a rich portrayal of the city’s history, culture, and ever-changing landscape.
The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain
This classic travelogue follows Mark Twain as he journeys through Europe and the Holy Land, including a visit to Istanbul, which he captures with his trademark wit and humor.
Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City, by Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely
This comprehensive guide and travelogue takes readers on a historical and cultural journey through Istanbul, detailing its most famous landmarks and hidden gems.
- Sumner-Boyd, Hilary (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
The Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andrić
This historical novel, by a winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, is set in the Ottoman Empire. It tells the story of the construction of the famous Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the lives of the people who lived around it. While not set in Istanbul specifically, it offers a window into the wider region’s history and Ottoman influence.
A Fez of the Heart: Travels Around Turkey in Search of a Hat, by Jeremy Seal
This travelogue follows the author’s journey through Turkey, including a visit to Istanbul, as he explores the country’s history, culture, and politics, all while searching for the once-iconic fez hat.
- Seal, Jeremy (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
The Birds Have Also Gone, by Yashar Kemal
In this novel, set in Istanbul, the author tells the story of three boys who capture and sell pigeons in the city, offering a unique perspective on the city’s rapidly changing landscape and the challenges faced by its inhabitants.
The Towers of Trebizond, by Rose Macaulay
This satirical travelogue (i.e., a novel) follows the narrator as she embarks on an eccentric journey to Istanbul and the ancient city of Trebizond, exploring themes of love, religion, and the clash of cultures.
- Macaulay, Rose (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
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Travel Advice for Turkey (Turkiye)
You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Turkey (Turkiye) (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.
The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information. You can find the British Government's travel advice for Turkey (Turkiye) here and the Australian Government's here.
Health & Vaccinations
The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Turkey (Turkiye) here.
General Information on Turkey (Turkiye)
The CIA's World Factbook contains a lot of good factual information Turkey (Turkiye) and is updated frequently.
- Official Name: Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti)
- Location: Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia (the Anatolian Peninsula), bordered by eight countries: Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east, and Iraq and Syria to the south
- Coastline: Mediterranean Sea to the south, Aegean Sea to the west, and Black Sea to the north
- Capital: Ankara
- Largest City: Istanbul
- Population (2021 estimate): 85 million
- Ethnic Groups: Predominantly Turkish (70-75%), Kurds (19%), and other minorities (including Arabs, Circassians, and Laz)
- Official Language: Turkish
- Religions: Islam (predominantly Sunni), with small Christian and Jewish communities
- Government: Unitary parliamentary republic
- President (as of 2021): Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- Prime Minister (as of 2021): Not applicable (the position was abolished in 2018)
- Area: 783,356 square kilometers (302,455 square miles)
- GDP (2021 estimate): $771 billion (nominal)
- GDP per capita (2021 estimate): $9,042 (nominal)
- Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)
- Time Zone: GMT+3 (Turkey Time)
- Internet TLD: .tr
- Calling Code: +90
- Major Industries: Textiles, food processing, automotive, electronics, tourism, mining, steel, petroleum, construction, lumber, paper
- Natural Resources: Coal, iron ore, copper, chromium, antimony, mercury, gold, barite, borate, celestite, emery, feldspar, limestone, magnesite, marble, perlite, pumice, pyrites, clay, hydropower, arable land
Turkey vs Turkiye vs Türkiye
The country's name has traditionally been Anglicized as Turkey, and that's how most of us have always known it. But the country's government has been pushing for adoption of the Turkish-language name, Türkiye. Since that doesn't always work well on Anglicized keyboards, you also often see it rendered as Turkiye. You can find more information on this here.