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Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul

If the Ottoman Empire has been a symbol of luxury fo a long time, and its official color was gold, then Dolmabahce Palace in turn is the essence of wealth and splendor. It seemed to be impossible to surpass the structure of the Byzantine era and later Ottoman conquest. Elegant marble Palace of Constantine showing white on a hill near the sea and seen by sailors for tens of kilometers, the giant castle complex of Topkapi... But the Ottoman Empire surprised everyone. In the 19 century the sultans who became sophisticated patrons of the arts have decided to transfer the residence from Topkapi to... Where? None of the houses in Istanbul met the high demands of the sultans. Then they began the construction of Dolmabahce. The palace which was literally built of gold (40 tonnes of this metal was used for sputtering!) had amazed Europe. The wife of Emperor Napoleon III, who had visited Dolmabahce Palace, asked her spouse to build something like that at Versailles. Dozens of huge rooms with expensive handicraft pianos, mahogany floors, thrones of the rarest species of trees... Marble, sapphires, rubies... All guests of Dolmabahce still have to wear special shoes,  not to spoil the expensive flooring and carpets. They still meet foreign delegations in the great hall of the palace where heavy crystal chandelier flaunts - the gift from the British emperors to their Turkish counterparts. The palace abounds in rarity weapons, paintings (tens of works of world-renowned Aivazovsky), precious stones, snuff boxes, carpets... The balconies of Dolmabahce offer stunning views, and the waters of the Bosphorus literally touch the steps of the palace. There is a garden of amazing beauty - the best gardeners from around the world come here to make sketches. After all, Dolmabahce - both the palace and garden - is considered to be a role model...