National Palaces Painting Museum

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Türkiye) — Reopened in a newly renovated space in the Crown Prince’s apartments of Dolmabahce Palace, the National Palaces Painting Museum showcases the collection of paintings of the national palaces.


National Palaces Painting Museum at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul

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

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
ISTANBUL, Turkey – Dolmabahçe Palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait, was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and 1909 to 1922. Built and decorated in the Ottoman Baroque style, it stretches along a section of the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait in central Istanbul.
Lion Statue at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
ISTANBUL, Turkey – A statue of a lion in the gardens at Dolmabahçe Palace. Dolmabahçe Palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait, was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and 1909 to 1922. Built and decorated in the Ottoman Baroque style, it stretches along a section of the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait in central Istanbul.
Bosphorus Gate at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
A couple stands under one of the ornately decorated gates at Dolmabahçe Palace looking out over the Bosphorus Strait toward the Asian coast. Dolmabahçe Palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait, was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and 1909 to 1922. Built and decorated in the Ottoman Baroque style, it stretches along a section of the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait in central Istanbul.
Clock Museum at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
ISTANBUL, Turkey – The entrance to the Clock Museum at Dolmabahçe Palace. Dolmabahçe Palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait, was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and 1909 to 1922. Built and decorated in the Ottoman Baroque style, it stretches along a section of the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait in central Istanbul.
Harem Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
Tourists line up to visit the Harem (privy chambers) of Dolmabahçe Palace. Dolmabahçe Palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait, was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and 1909 to 1922. Built and decorated in the Ottoman Baroque style, it stretches along a section of the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait in central Istanbul.
Seal at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
Dolmabahçe Palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait, was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and 1909 to 1922. Built and decorated in the Ottoman Baroque style, it stretches along a section of the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait in central Istanbul.
National Palaces Painting Museum at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
The outside of the newly opening Painting Museum in the Apartments of the Crown Prince at Dolmabahçe Palace. Dolmabahçe Palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait, was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and 1909 to 1922. Built and decorated in the Ottoman Baroque style, it stretches along a section of the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait in central Istanbul.
National Palaces Painting Museum at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
The outside of the newly opened Painting Museum in the Apartments of the Crown Prince at Dolmabahçe Palace. Dolmabahçe Palace, on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait, was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1887 and 1909 to 1922. Built and decorated in the Ottoman Baroque style, it stretches along a section of the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait in central Istanbul.

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.

Istanbul: Memories and the City (Paperback)
  • OrhanPamuk (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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.

The Innocents Abroad: Original Illustrations
  • Twain, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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.

Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City
  • 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.

The Bridge on the Drina (Phoenix Fiction)
  • Andric, Ivo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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.

A Fez of the Heart: Travels around Turkey in Search of a 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 Birds Have Also Gone
  • Yaşar Kemal (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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.

The Towers of Trebizond: A Novel (FSG Classics)
  • 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.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »