|Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosphorus shore in Istanbul is a fitting symbol of the magnificence and decadence of the 19th-century Ottoman Empire.|
It's just as a sultan's palace should be: huge and sumptuous, with 285 rooms, 43 large salons, a 4000 kg (4-1/2-ton) Bohemian glass chandelier, and a Bosphorus-shore façade nearly a quarter mile (1/2 km) long. It's the grandest of Ottoman imperial palaces (closed Monday & Thursday; stay 2-3 hrs; guided tour required).
The palace was designed by Ottoman Armenian architects Karabet and Nikogos Balian for Sultan Abdulmecit (1839-61). When it was finished in 1856, the imperial family moved out of medieval Topkapi Palace to live in European-style opulence.
See also: http://www.guideistanbul.net/dolmabahce.htm