National Palaces Painting Museum

ISTANBUL, Turkey — 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
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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

Lion Statue at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
National Palaces Painting Museum at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Bosphorus Gate at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Clock Museum at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Harem Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

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.

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David Coleman / Photographer
by 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 »