It is possible to call Istanbul a city of palaces. Topkapı Palace, Çırağan Palace, Dolmabahçe Palace, Yıldız Palace, to name a few, are architectural masterpieces reflecting Turkish sophistication.
As one of the oldest cities in the world, Istanbul was the capital city of two empires. Byzantine and Ottoman rulers built magnificent palaces in the most beautiful locations of this land for themselves and their relatives reflecting the trends of their eras.
DOLMABAHÇE PALACE Dolmabahçe Street, Beşiktaş Tel : (0212) 236 90 00 (20 lines) Except for Monday, Thursday 09.00-15.00
Dolmabahçe Palace, which was finished in 1856, was based on a 110,000 m2 area and is composed of 16 sections in addition to the main building. During the era of Sultan Abdülhamid the Second, a clock tower and the Heir Room were added. Built by two Ottoman architects, Karabet and Nikogos Balyan, the main structure of the palace is composed of three sections: the Selamlik, the Parade Hall, and the Seraglio. The Selamlik was used for state affairs, the Seraglio was used for the private life of the sultan and his family, and the Parade Hall, located between the two, was used for important state parades. The palace has 285 rooms, 46 halls, 6 baths and 68 toilets. Throughout the corridors accessing the Seraglio (Harem), there are rooms belonging to the sultan, his wives, and sons. These include the sultan’s bedrooms, his study and salons. Atatürk’s study room and salon are also here.
IHLAMUR PAVILION Dolmabahçe Street, Beşiktaş Tel : (0212) 236 90 00 (20 lines) Except for Monday, Thursday 09.00-15.00
From 1849 to 1855, the Merasim (Ceremony) and Maiyet (Entourage) Pavilions were built by Sultan Abdülmecit. They were both called the Ihlamur Pavilion. The Merasim Pavilion has an outstanding architectural style with its baroque style front steps and interesting and animated reliefs. The Maiyet Pavilion is simpler in terms of internal and external decorations. Mehmet Reşat the Fifth used to come here often. During his time, the Bulgarian and Serbian Kings, who visited Istanbul in 1910, were hosted here.
ÇIRAĞAN PALACE Dolmabahçe Street, Beşiktaş Tel : (0212) 236 90 00 (20 lines) Except for Monday, Thursday 09.00-15.00
This was built in 1871 on the site of a wooden palace in the most beautiful part of the Bosporus by the Architect Serkis Balyan by the order of Sultan Abdülaziz. Superior examples of stonework are completed in rooms with elaborated pillars. The rooms are decorated with unique carpets, gilt furniture, and engravings made of mother of pearl. Like other palaces of the Bosporus, the Çırağan sheltered many important meetings. It was connected to the Yıldız Palace by a bridge. The facade facing the street is surrounded by high walls. It hostss various social activities today.
İBRAHİM PASHA Palace Sultanahmet Square Tel : (0212) 518 18 05 Everyday except for Monday
Belonging to Damat İbrahim Pasha, son in law of Sultan Süleyman the Law Maker, the palace is based on Byzantium’s historical Hippodrome in Sultanahmet Square. It now houses the Turkish-Islamic Art Museum.
YILDIZ PALACE – The Chalet Dolmabahçe Street, Beşiktaş Tel : (0212) 236 90 00 (20 lines). Except for Monday, Thursday 09.00-15.00
This neighborhood, which was called “Has Bahçe (Has Garden)” during Sultan Ahmed the First’s era was very popular during Sultan Murad the Fourth and Sultan Selim the Third eras. A pavilion called Yıldız, (Star) was built by Sultan Selim the Third for his mother Mihrişah Valide Sultan. The palace has 60 rooms and four hall rooms. These magnificent places were decorated with engravings, geometric ornaments, and scenic panels reflecting Baroque, Rococo and Islamic influences. Pavilions and summer palaces were added to this complex and consequently it took the name Yıldız Palace during Sultan Abdülhamid’s era, and became the fourth governmental centre of the Empire.
BEYLERBEYİ PALACE Beylerbeyi Tel : (0216) 321 93 20 Except for Monday, Thursday 09.30-17.00
The name of this district was derived from the mansion of Mehmet Pasha located here. He was the Governor of Rumelia during Sultan Murat the Third’s reign. After the wooden palace burnt down during Sultan Mahmut the Second’s time, Sultan Abdülaziz hired the Architect Serkis Balyan to build the current palace between 1861-1865. It was not resided in permanently but used in summer most especially for hosting the head of the state. Sultan Abdülhamid the Second passed his last six years in this palace and died here in 1918.
KÜÇÜKSU PAVILION Anadolu Hisarı, Beykoz Tel : (0216) 332 33 03 Except for Monday, Thursday 09.30-17.00
Kucuksu Pavilion was built by Sultan Abdulmecit in the mid-19th century in the location known as Bagce-i Goksu on the Asian shores of the Bosphorus, near the Anatolian Fortress. The pavilion was completed in 1857 by the imperial architect Nikogos Balyan. It has three floors including the basement where there were kitchens and storage rooms. Kucuksu was used as a hunting lodge and as a resting mansion by several sultans and restored by Sultan Abdulaziz. The building has a European style in its architecture: rooms and halls are decorated with exquisite fireplaces made of Italian marble, fine wood parquet floosr, European furniture, crystal chandeliers, and mirrors with sultans’ tugra (signature), Hereke carpets, paintings etc.
Kucuksu Kasri was used as a state guest house for a short time during the Republic period and then was opened as a museum. There is a small cafeteria in the courtyard where you can sit and enjoy the ships passing while sipping your Turkish tea or Turkish coffee.
HIDİV PAVILION Çubuklu Korusu, Çubuklu Yolu No: 32 Beykoz Tel : (0216) 413 92 53
Hidiv Pavilion is located on the hills of the Cubuklu neighborhood in the Beykoz district on the Asian side. It was built in 1907 by the Italian architect Delfo Seminati as a residence for the Ottoman governor (Hidiv or Khedive) for Egypt, Abbas Hilmi Pasha. The mansion stands in a large park. At the main entrance there is a monumental fountain covered in stained glass which rises all the way to the roof. Several rooms and halls are connected to each other on a circle plan, and there is a large hall on the ground floor with a fireplace and two great bedrooms on the upper floors. The tower is the most popular section of the kiosk with its view over the Bosphorus, with access to the terrace on top by a lift or by stairs. The Hidiv Kiosk, not open to the public until 1980, has been restored twice and is now run by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality with hotel, restaurant and cafeteria sections. It is open every day.
AYNALIKAVAK PAVILION Kasımpaşa Street, Hasköy Tel : (0212) 256 97 50 Except Mondays & Thursdays 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.The Aynalikavak Pavilion is located in the Haskoy neighborhood on the Golden Horn. Originally this was an agricultural area during the Byzantine period. Forests were planted in the Ottoman period and the sultans built wooden mansions for their relaxation. After the construction of many shipyards, the area gained importance and the stone Aynalikavak Pavilion and several other kiosks were built in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The land façade of the pavilion sits on two floors and the sea-side façade on three.
The pavilion has a divan room and audience hall (Arz Odasi), which is decorated with sultans’ seals (tugra), fine calligraphy work, and beautiful windows and mirrors.
The ceiling is covered with a dome. Today, on the lower floor of the pavilion there is a research center for traditional old Turkish musical instruments where occasionally Turkish traditional music concerts are held. The Aynalikavak Pavilion opened to the public in 1985 as a museum.
TEKFUR PALACET (Byzantian Governor Palace) Şişhane Street Edirnekapı, Fatih Tel:(0212) 522 17 50
Visits are allowed by the permission of the Directorate of Hagias Sophia Museum.
Visits are allowed with permission of the Directorate of Hagia Sophia Museum. This palace was built adjacent to the Constaninople city walls between Edirnekapı and the Golden Horn and dates back to the 13th century. It occupies an important place in world art history since it is the only Byzantine palace surviving today and reflects the civil architectural style of Byzantium. Today, it has three floors but no roof. In 1453 after the Conquest, it was used for different purposes and recently restored between 1955 and 1970.
GREAT PLACE RUINS
The Byzantine Great Palace covered an area of 100,000 sq m, ranging from the Hippodrome on the south of the Sultanahmet Mosque to the Marmara Sea. Here, small palaces such as the Boukoleon, Magnaura and Daphne were located. The Great Palace was like a small city composed of various structures, parade halls, churches, gardens and game fields.
Located in Çatladıkapı, Istanbul, the Byzantine Boukoleon Palace was used as an imperial quay between the 9th and 13th centuries. Known also as Hormistas Palace and added to the palace complex by the Emperor Justinianus, the Boukoleon Palace’s few but precious ruins survived today. Its marble framed windows, crypt, and magnificent door can still be seen today.
In order show how glorious the state was, the emperors used to receive foreign legates in this palace, which was famous for its magnitude, magnificence, and golden and silver decorations. The wedding ceremony hall for emperors and the imperial throne decorated with gilt lion figures was in this palace. Like other palaces, it was possible to access to other sections and Hagia Sophia through various galleries. The Kremlin Palace and San Marco Basilica in Venice were inspired by this palace.