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Hello readers! Apologies about the delay in posts – we are currently on excursion and are making our way down the Aegean coast of Turkey (more about that later!)

This past Sunday, after spending a few hours leisurely strolling around the markets of Ortaköy, a few friends and I made our way over to the Dolmabahçe Palace. Built between 1843 and 1856, the palace was used as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from its completion until 1922. Dolmabahçe, meaning “filled garden”, was seen as a last-ditch attempt to bolster the image of the declining Ottoman Empire.

Only a few of us decided to take a tour of the palace, as the price was quoted in my guidebook as 40L for both the palace and the harem, but when we arrived we found out that with our International Student ID cards we could see the whole schebang for 5L. Sweet!

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the palace, but the grounds of the palace were beautiful. It’s not called ‘filled garden’ for nothing!

We were REALLY excited that we only had to pay 5L.

– Outside the palace.

-Gateway to the Bosphorus.

-The (pink!) Harem.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk lived in Dolmabahçe for a while and spent his last days of life there. He died in his bedroom in the Harem, which we got to see. The bedspread was a Turkish flag, and even though we were explicitly told not to touch anything, several Turks and a few other visitors (one Iranian woman in particular, who was right in front of me), leaned over the ropes and touched Atatürk’s bedspread. Turkey is really patriotic and loves Atatürk. There are statues, busts, and flags of him everywhere. I find it interesting and very cool that they hold him in such high regard for turning Turkey into the secular state it is today.