Make your own free website on Tripod.com

 

BEYLERBEYI PALACE

The name "Beylerbeyi", meaning the Lord of the Lords but was used as a term for governor general, is also the name of this region in Istanbul where the palace stands on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus.

This region had been settled since the Byzatine times. According to the famous 18th century traveller Inciciyan, after Constantine the Great erected a cross here,  the area came to known as the "Istavroz Gardens".

Under the Ottomans, this area was first used as an imperial park "Hasbahçe". The name Beylerbeyi was given to this area in the Ottoman period because Mehmet Paşa, who held the title of "Beylerbeyi" (governor general) of the Rumeli region in the Sultan Murat III's period (1574 -1595), had a waterside residence on this site.

Through out the Ottoman times different sultans built several country houses and pavilions in this region.  In 1829, Sultan Mahmud II built a waterfront palace constructed entirely from timber, which later was burned down by fire.

Finally in  1861-1865, Sultan Abdulaziz had the entire timber structure demolished and constructed a marble-and-stone palace on the same spot; today's "Beylerbeyi Palace". Today, you can find it on the eastern shore of the Bosphorus, in the Asian side of Istanbul. It is much smaller than Dolmabahce Palace and it was used as the Sultans' summer palace. Because of this reason the floor under Turkish carpets and kilims was covered with straw bought specially from Egypt and unlike the other palaces, there is no heating in this palace.

The palace was built in a luxurious and sumptuously neoclassic style that can be noticed as soon as one enters in it. The architect was Sarkis Balyan, a member of the famous Balyan family. Two members of this family were also architects of Dolmabahce Palace as a result, there are many architectural similarities between this building and the Dolmabahce Palace. 5000 people from all over Anatolia including the best masters, worked for it's construction. They were all paid by the Sultan.  The Imperial Stables of the Mahmut II 's old burned palace were renowned for its arches shaped like horseshoes and the bronze statue of Abdulaziz's favourite steed stands before its gates.

Sultan Abdulaziz loved ships and  during his reign the Turkish navy was the second in the world. His passion for ships can be seen from the strong naval motif in the decorations and from many paintings of ships. He was also a keen sportsman and a known artist, who is believed to have prepared sketches for the decoration of the palace, which were later used in the decoration of the ceilings.

 

 

Click to view the ship and the details on the ceiling of the Hawser room

main building of the Beylerbeyi Palace, which consists of two main sections: selamlik and harem, was surrounded by smaller  structures such as the "Sari Kosk" (Yellow Pavilion), the Pasa's Apartments, the Music Apartments, the Deer House, the Pigeon Sanctuary, the Greater Aviary, the Lion House, the Imperial Stables and the "Mermer Kosk" (Marble Pavilion). Surrounding the palace there was an area of 160,000 square meters comprising a hunting area, a zoo and a garden with different flora from all over the world.

 

Beylerbeyi Palace is a 2 main storey building and a basement, which is set in terraced grounds planted with magnolia and other trees brought from all corners of the globe. The first floor was for service departments, the upper two was for state rooms and imperial apartments. The kitchens of the palace are located in an adjacent building because of the smell of the food and the risk of fire. There are a total of 26 elegantly designed chambers and 6 grand halls. It is very elegant in general, with Turkish Hereke Carpets and kilims on top of the rush matting from Egypt which is good against damp in winter and heat in summer. Czech Bohemian Crystal Chandeliers, French Clocks, Chinese, Japanese, French and Turkish Yıldız porcelain vases, furniture from Damascus and France and paintings from Russian Aivazovsky, all give the palace the distinction of being a fully furnished museum.

 

Some distinguished examples of Turkish  workmanship from the palace designed with mother of pearl and elephant tooth

A detail from the palace ceiling

The curtain rods of the room known as Hawser room

 

The room French Emperor Eugenie stayed in 1869

Palace was also used as a guest house for the foreign heads visiting the Ottoman Capital. Very illustrious and distinguished persons were guests of the Sultan. Among them were the French Emperor Eugenie (1869), Nasruddin the Shah of Persia, the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia, Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, British King Edward VIII,  the Prince of Serbia, the King of Montenegro, and the wife of Napoleon III who stayed here in 1869 and later she had the windows in the guest room she stayed in Beylerbeyi Palace duplicated for her bedroom in the Tuilleries Palace in France. Sultan Abdülhamid II also spent the last six months of his life and died here in 1918.

 

Study room of Sultan Abdulhamit II

 

Entrance to the Harem hall is via a curved marble staircase. The largest chamber on the lower floor is known as the pool saloon, as it contains a large pool in the centre. Rooms on the lower floor are reached via a door on the shore facade. In one corner of the shore facade is the Captain Pasha room, and in the other two corners are reception rooms. 

Pool Saloon

Rooms allocated to the harem as dining halls on this floor were also used by Abdülhamit II as his privy apartments on his return from Salonika. The most interesting chambers on the upper story are the inlay room and the magnificent Blue room, decorated with blue stucco columns, painted ceiling, inscriptions, chandeliers and vases. 

Blue Room

On the garden facade of this chamber are the apartments used by the Empress Eugene during her stay in Beylerbeyi, and on the shore facade is to be seen the mahogany reverted reception room of Abdulaziz. From here one may enter the inlay room, which gives way to the ambassadorial reception room and the conference room of the palace.

Dining Room

Mother of pearl Room

Reception

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. On the uppermost terrace of the grounds there is a marble pool with a fountain which operate s as a natural air conditioning, surrounded by three pavilions; The "Sari Kosk" (Yellow Pavilion) beside the pool on the upper terrace, The "Mermer Kosk" (Marble Pavilion), which was constructed to serve as a hunting pavilion is famous with its interior fountain and marble walls, and the Ahir Pavilion (Stable Pavilion), constructed to house sultanate's horses which is one of the best examples of Ottoman palace stables, and of particular interest as the only such building to have survived in its original state.

Among these pavilions the Sari Kosk and the Mermer Kosk are known to be built in Mahmut II 's time. The Mermer Kosk, the large pool on the lower terrace and the tunnel are the only parts of the palace are also the remains of the earlier timber palace of Beylerbeyi.

Details under the stair case of  "Sari Kosk" (Yellow Pavilion)

"Mermer Kosk" (Marble Pavilion), was a hunting pavilion, with an interior fountain & marble walls

Ahir Pavilion (Stable Pavilion), constructed to house sultanate horses

The 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 Centre, various gifts and souvenirs are on sale here. The gardens are available for private receptions upon advance application.

In the past only the Harem and the Selamlik sections of Beylerbeyi Palace were open to visitors. After the restoration works done in the Sari Kosk, Mermer Kosk, Ahir Kosk and the terraced gardens, now visitors can also see these sections during their visit. If you are lucky, you can sometimes catch the chance the see art crafts done by children displayed in front of the Sari Kosk, and some different performances and shows organized in the ground floor as in Dolmabahce Palace. The first floor on the other hand, is re-equipped and ornamented according to it's original features for important national and international meetings.

Right by the Bosphorus Bridge at the waterfront, the palace is now used as a museum and is worth visiting. The tours are conducted in Turkish and English and one should join the tour group which will be leaded by the Palace Guide.


Open Hours: Open everyday except Monday & Thursday between 09:30-16:00

Address: Cayirbasi Cad, Beylerbeyi
Telephone: +90-216 321 93 20


go to top

back to main attractions page