Crystal StaircaseDolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, Turkey sits on the Bosphorus strait, a narrow (and strategic) strip of water dividing Asia and Europe. The Bosphorus is, in fact, the perfect metaphor for the palace itself, which is a conglomeration of Western and Turkish styles. Combining Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Ottoman architecture, Dolmabahçe Palace seems to have been designed with only one thing in mind—splendor.


It is a truly sybaritic construction, filled with everything extravagant: from 150-year-old bearskin rugs presented to the Sultan by the Tsar of Russia to Ghiordes-knotted carpets made by the Hereke Imperial Factory. Perhaps the Ottoman Empire’s 31st Sultan, Abdülmecid I, who ordered the palace construction, sent out a royal memo asking that the place be stuffed with anything gold and glittering. Besides the fourteen tons of gold leaf gilding the ceilings, Dolmabahçe Palace features the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world.

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