Zülvecheyn Salon on the upper floor serves as an entrance
hall leading to the apartments reserved for the sultan in the
Mabeyn. These apartments include a magnificent hamam faced with
Egyptian marble, a study and drawing rooms.
Ceremonial Hall situated between the Harem and the Mabeyn is the
highest and most imposing section of Dolmabahçe Palace.
With an area of over 2000 square metres, 56 columns, a dome 36
metres high at the apex, and a 4.5 ton English chandelier, this
room stands out as the focal point of the palace. In cold weather
this vast room was heated by hot air blown out at the bases of
the columns from a heating system in the basement. On ceremonial
occasions the gold throne would be carried here from Topkapi Palace,
and seated here the sultan would exchange congratulations on religious
festivals with hundreds of statesmen and other official guests.
On such traditional occasions foreign ambassadors and guests would
sit in one of the upper galleries, another being reserved for
the palace orchestra.
traditional Turkish palace was a complex of buildings with diverse
functions rather than a single large building with an impressive
façade. In this respect Dolmabahçe Palace is a departure
from traditional concepts in imitation of western ideas. Inside,
however, the Harem was as strictly isolated from the rest of the
palace as in earlier centuries, despite being under the same roof.
self-contained Harem occupies two thirds of the palace, corridors
linking it to the Mabeyn and the Ceremonial Hall. Access to the
Harem was by iron and wooden doors, through which only the sultan
could pass freely. Here are a series of salons and galleries whose
windows look out onto the Bosphorus, and leading off them the
suites of rooms belonging to the sultan's wives, the high ranking
female officials of the Harem, and the sons, brothers, daughters
and sisters of the sultan. Other principal sections are the suite
of the Valide Sultan (sultan’s mother), the so-called Blue
and Pink salons, the bedrooms of sultans Abdülmecid, Abdülaziz
and Mehmed V. Resad, the section housing the lower ranking palace
women known as the Cariyeler Dairesi, the rooms of the sultan’s
wives (kadinefendi), and the study and bedroom used by Atatürk.
All the main rooms are furnished with valuable carpets, ornaments,
paintings, chandeliers and calligraphic panels.
of Dolmabahçe Palace has now been completed and every section
is open to the public. Two galleries are devoted to an exhibition
of precious items of various kinds, and fine examples of Yildiz
porcelain from the National Palaces collection are displayed at
the Iç Hazine (Privy Purse) building. Paintings from the
National Palaces collection can be seen in the Art Gallery, where
they are displayed in rotation in the form of long-term exhibitions.
On the lower floor beneath this gallery is a corridor containing
a permanent exhibition of photographs showing the bird designs
which feature in the palace’s architecture and its furnishings
and ornaments. Abdülmecid Efendi Library in the Mabeyn is
the other principal exhibition area at Dolmabahçe.
Mefrusat Dairesi at the palace entrance now houses the Cultural
and Information Center, which is responsible for research projects
and promotion activities carried out at all the historic buildings
attached to the Department of National Palaces. The center contains
a library, mainly relating to the 19th century, which is available
are cafes in the grounds near the Clock Tower, the courtyard of
the Mefrusat Dairesi, the Aviary, and the Veliahd Dairesi. Items
available in the souvenir shops here include books about the National
Palaces, postcards, and reproductions of selected paintings from
the art collection. The Ceremonial Hall and gardens are available
for private receptions. Special exhibition areas have now been
established, and numerous cultural and art events are held in
area of Beylerbeyi on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus has been
settled since Byzatine times. According to the famous 18th century
traveller Inciciyan, Constantine the Great erected a cross here,
after which the area was known as the Istavroz Gardens. Under
the Ottomans this area was an imperial park or hasbahçe.
Inciciyan relates that the name Beylerbeyi was given to this area
in the 16th century because Mehmet Pasa who held the title of
beylerbeyi (governor general) built a country house on the site.
sultans built several country houses and pavilions on the imperial
estate here, and in 1829 Sultan Mahmud II built a wooden waterfront
Abdülaziz demolished this wooden palace to build the present
Beylerbeyi Palace in 1861-1865. Designed by the well known Ottoman
architect Sarkis Balyan, the palace was generally reserved for summer
use by the sultans or to accommodate foreign heads of state visiting
the Ottoman capital. The Prince of Serbia, the King of Montenegro,
the Sah of Iran and Empress Eugenie of France are among the royal
guests who stayed here. The deposed Sultan Abdülhamid II spent
the last six months of his life and died here in 1918.
interior design of Beylerbeyi Palace is a synthesis of diverse western
and eastern styles, although the layout of the rooms follows that
of the traditional Turkish house, consisting of a central sofa with
closed rooms situated at the four corners. The furnishing and decoration
of the Selamlik or public apartments are more ornate than those
of the Harem.
palace consists of two main storeys and a basement containing kitchens
and store rooms. The palace has three entrances, six state rooms
and 26 smaller rooms. The floors are covered with rush matting from
Egypt which protected the inhabitants against damp in winter and
heat in summer. Over this are laid large carpets and kilims, mostly
made at Hereke. The furnishings include exquisite Bohemian crystal
chandeliers, French clocks, and Chinese, Japanese, French and Turkish
Yildiz porcelain vases.
of the features which distinguishes Beylerbeyi from other Ottoman
palaces of the period are the terraced gardens on the sloping hillside
behind the palace. There are two pavilions on these terraces, the
Sari Kösk beside the pool on the upper terrace, and the Mermer
Kösk with its interior fountain and marble walls, which provided
a cool refuge in the summer heat. The Mermer Kösk, the large
pool on the lower terrace and the tunnel are the only parts of the
palace remaining from the earlier timber palace of Beylerbeyi. The
attractive Ahir Kösk is a fascinating example of Ottoman palace
stables, and of particular interest as the only such building to
have survived in its original state.
old coastal road passed under a long tunnel constructed during the
reign of Mahmud II (1808-1839) so that the palace would not be separated
from the terraced gardens behind. This is a unique feature, other
palaces and mansions along the Bosphorus being connected to their
back gardens and parks by bridges. Today this tunnel houses a cafeteria
and sales points for visitors. As well as books, postcards and posters
published by the Culture and Information Center, various gifts and
souvenirs are on sale here. The gardens are available for private
receptions upon advance application.
Palace and park covered an area of 500.000 square meters on the
hillside overlooking the Bosphorus between Besiktas, Ortaköy
and Balmumcu. This area of natural woodland became known as Kazancioglu
Park after the Turkish conquest, and probably became an imperial
estate during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617).
Murad IV. (1623-1640) is known to have enjoyed excursions here,
and Selim III (1789-1807) had a country pavilion or kösk known
as Yildiz built here for his mother Mihrisah Valide Sultan. It is
after this kösk that the park came to be named.
successor Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839), Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861)
and Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876) had new mansions and pavilions
constructed in the park, and in the late l9th century Sultan Abdülhamid
(1876-1909) abandoned Dolmabahçe to make this complex his
home. He greatly expanded the palace with many new buildings during
Palace became the fourth seat of Ottoman government in Istanbul,
after Eski Saray (the Old Palace) which stood where Istanbul University
is today, Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahçe Palace.
section of Yildiz Palace named Sale (after the Swiss chalet which
it was designed to resemble) is one of the most interesting examples
of l9th century Ottoman architecture. Set in its own walled garden,
Sale consists of three adjoining sections built at different dates.
The original section dates from 1880, the second section designed
by Sarkis Balyan from 1889, and the third section known as the Merasim
Kösk (literally Ceremonial Pavilion) was designed by the Italian
architect Raimondo D’Aronco and completed in 1898. Each of
the additional wings was built for two separate state visits by
the German emperor Wilhelm II, since accommodating state guests
was one of the Sale’s main functions.
building has two main storeys and a basement, and is built of both
timber and masonry. In keeping with traditional Ottoman houses,
the Sale consists of two separate sections which could be used as
Harem and Selamlik when required. There are seven entrances, and
the windows have wooden shutters. Three elegant staircases, one
of marble and the other two of wood, connect the two main floors.
informal air of a country house is deceptive, as both the scale
of the building and the opulence of the interior show. Behind the
façade we find not a modest pavilion but a small palace,
whose grandiose reception rooms are decorated with mural landscapes,
geometric moulding, and painted designs in a mixture of Baroque,
Rococo and Islamic style.
imposing of all is the Ceremonial Hall, with its single piece Hereke
carpet, custom made to fit the room and measuring 406 square metres,
its gilded coffered ceiling and large pier mirrors. The Banqueting
Room has a more oriental atmosphere with doors intricately inlaid
with mother-of-pearl, while the focal point of the Yellow Room is
the landscapes which adorn the ceiling. The valuable furnishings
imported from various European countries, the elegant porcelain
stoves, magnificent vases, and splendidly carved bedroom suites
bear witness to the sumptious tastes of the period.
the fall of the monarchy the Sale was for a time run as a high class
casino, before being restored to its original function as a guest
house for visiting heads of state and royalty. Among the famous
names who have stayed here are Sah Riza Pehlevi of Iran, King Faisal
of Saudi Arabia, King Hüseyin of Jordan, President Sukarno
of Indonesia, King Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and Preiesident De
Gaulle of France.
the Sale at Yildiz Palace is open to the public as a museum-palace,
and private receptions are held in its gardens.
Aynalikavak Pavilion is the sole remaining building
from a large Ottoman palace known as Aynalikavak Palace or Tersane
palace, dating back to the 17th century. This pretty building on
the shore or the Golden Horn is a reminder that this now built-up
area was for centuries a place parks, meadows and streams where
the Ottoman sultans and before them the Byzantines came for country
the Turkish conquest of Istanbul this attractive stretch of countryside
stretching inland from the Golden Horn became an imperial park known
as the Tersane Hasbahçe after the naval arsenal at neabry
earliest known building here dates from the reign of Sultan Ahmed
I (1603-1617), and his successors added new country lodges over
the centuries, until the entire complex became so large that is
was referred to as Tersane or Aynalikavak Palace.
Pavilion is one of these buildings, thought to date originally from
the reign of Sultan Ahmed III (1703-1730), although extensive alterations
under Selim III (1789-1807) transformed its appearance radically.The
principal rooms are a reception room known as the Divanhane and
the smaller Music Room. Bands of exquisite calligraphic decoration
around the windows of these two rooms consist of verses by two famous
poets, Seyh Galib and Enderûni Fâzil, in praise of the
pavilion and Selim III. These talik inscriptions were designed by
the calligrapher Yesari.
terms of its architecture and decoration Aynalikavak Pavilion is
a rare and outstanding example of classical Ottoman architecture.
This small building is only one storey, with a basement under the
section facing the sea. The pavilion is of additional interest because
of its strong associations with Sultan Selim III, a respected composer.
The traditional fitted seats or sedir along the walls and settees
resembling sedir, braziers, lamps and other contemporary furnishings
reflect a way of life which has disappeared entirely today.
as an appropriate tribute to Sultan Selim III, who is a major figure
of Turkish classical music, the basement of Aynalikavak Pavilion
houses an exhibition of Turkish musical instruments donated by various
individuals and institutions, together with photographs of antique
instruments at Topkapi Palace Museum. In summer the pretty gardens
and cafeteria attract many visitors, as do the Aynalikavak Concerts
of classical Turkish art music. Private receptions are held in the
This attractive part of the Bosphorus on the
Asian shore is mentioned by Byzantine historians, and in Ottoman
times became one of the imperial parks known as Kandil Bahçesi
(Lantern Garden). Sultan Murad IV (1623-1640) was particularly fond
of Küçüksu and gave it the name Gümüs
Selvi (Silver Cypress), and in several sources from the l7th century
onwards the name Bagçe-i Göksu is used.
the reign of Mahmud I (1730- 1754) Divittar Mehmed Pasa built a
two storey timber palace on the waterfront here which continued
to be used by Selim III (1789-1807) and Mahmud II (1808-1839).
the reign of Mahmud’s son Abdülmecid (1839-1861) the
western influence on Turkish architecture reached a peak, and the
sultan had the earlier building demolished and the present stone
pavilion or royal lodge constructed in the new style used for Dolmabahçe
Pavilion was designed by Nikogos Balyan and completed in 1857. The
pavilion has a ground area of 15x27 meters and consists of a basement
and two main storeys, the basement containing a larder, kitchen
and servants, quarters. Both first and second floors have four corner
rooms opening onto a central gallery, a plan which reflects that
of the traditional Turkish house. The pavilion was designed for
short stays when the sultan took country excursions or went hunting
in the woodland here. Unlike other imperial buildings Küçüksu
was not surrounded by high walls but by castiron railings with gates
on all four sides. During the reign of Abdülmecid’s younger
brother Abdülaziz (1861-1876) more elaborate decoration was
added to the façade. All the outbuildings which once belonged
to the pavilion have since been demolished.
ornate seaward façade and double flight of steps sweeping
exuberantly around the ornamental pool and fountain are decorated
with diverse western motifs. This European exterior is echoed in
the interior furnishing and, decoration executed by Sechan, stage
designer at Vienna Opera House.
ceilings are richly decorated with carton-pierre moulding and painted
designs. There are so many fireplaces made of Italian marble of
various colours in diverse styles, that Küçüksu
is like a museum of l9th century fireplace design. The elegant parquet
floors have different patterns in each of the rooms, which are furnished
with European style furniture, carpets and paintings. After the
establishment of the Turkish Republic, Küçüksu
Pavilion was used as a state guest house for some years, but today
is open to the public as a museum-palace.
pavilion was extensively restored in 1994 and the surrounding garden
and parkland, nearby fountain and quay are now being transformed
into a park where the public can enjoy picnics and excursions as
in previous centuries. When this project is completed, the garden
of Küçüksu Pavilion will be available for private
receptions upon application.
Ihlamur Valley lying behind the district of Besiktas
was a popular picnic place in the early l8th century, when the vineyards
here belonged to Haci Hüseyin Aga, superintendent of the Naval
Arsenal. Although this attractive spot became an imperial estate
during the reign of Ahmed III (1703-1730), it continued to be known
by this name until the mid l9th century. Abdülhamid I (1774-1789)
and his son Selim III (1789-1807) frequently visited this park.
Pavilions were part of the ambitious building programme initiated
by Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1860), including Dolmabahçe
Palace at Besiktas and Küçüksu Pavilion on the
the royal lodges were constructed here Abdülmecid used to visit
this pleasant wooded valley frequently. There was nothing in the
park but a tiny plain building and here Lamartine was received by
Sultan Abdülmecid in the mid l9th century. In his account of
the occasion the famous French poet could not disguise his disappointment
at the humble setting in which he met the Ottoman sovereign.
would not have been disappointed by the two lodges which were built
at Ihlamur shortly afterwards, however. Built by the architect Nikogos
Balyan between 1849 and 1855, they have been variously called the
Nüzhetiye and Ihlamur Pavilions.
most elaborate of the two, known as the Merasim Kösk, was reserved
for the sultan’s own use. A curving baroque staircase frames
the entrance and dense decoration swathes the façade. The
interior decoration is typical of l9th century Ottoman architecture,
highly westernised but eclectic, in keeping with the furnishings
and fittings in various European styles.
plainer and slightly smaller Maiyet Kösk was used by the sultan’s
entourage or family members who accompanied him.
Abdülaziz (1861-1876) was not as fond of Ihlamur as his elder
brother, and seems to have come here only to watch cock and ram
fights in the garden. Sultan Mehmed V Resad (1909- 1918) came here
occasionally, and it was at Ihlamur that he received the kings of
Bulgaria and Serbia.
Ihlamur Pavilions were placed under the auspices of the National
Palaces in 1966 as museum-palaces and are open to the public. There
is a cafe in the Maiyet Kösk and part of the garden, and as
at the other palaces and pavilions private receptions may be held
here by arrangement. A newer building in the grounds which used
to be accommodation for employees is now used to hold courses in
painting, sculpture and drama mainly for children.