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ISTANBUL
Exotic Mixture of East and West.
Beylerbeyi Palace

The area of Beylerbeyi on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus has been settled since Byzantine times. According to the famous 18 th century traveler 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 16 th century because Mehmet Pasa who held the title of beylerbeyi (governor general) built a country house on the site.

The sultans built several country houses and pavilions on the imperial estate here, and in 1829 Sultan Mahmud II built a wooden waterfront palace.

Sultan 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.

The 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.

The 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.

One 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.

Picture Gallery for Beylerbeyi Palace
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