Beylerbeyi Palace (Ottoman Palace Istanbul)

The Beylerbeyi Palace (Turkish: Beylerbeyi Sarayi) is a palace located in Beylerbeyi neighbourhood of Istanbul, Turkey at the Asian side of the Bosphorus, situated just north of the Bosphorus Bridge today.

Beylerbeyi Palace is the largest and most elegant Ottoman Palace on the Asian Shore of the Bosphorus. The palace is open everyday except Mon and Thu from 9 am to 12.30 p.m, 1.30 pm to 6.00pm.

Designed in the baroque style by Sarkis Balyan, Beylerbeyi Palace seems fairly restrained compared to the excesses of the earlier Dolmabahçe or Küçüksu palaces. It was commissioned by Sultan Abdül-Aziz (1830-1876) and built between 1860 and 1865 as a summer residence and a place to entertain visiting heads of state. Empress Eugénie of France visited Beylerbeyi on her way to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and had her face slapped by the sultan's mother for daring to enter the palace on the arm of Abdül Aziz. Other regal visitors to the palace included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

The palace looks its most attractive from the Bosphorus, from where its two bathing pavilions, one for the harem (women's only) and the other for the selamlik (men's only), can best be seen.

One of the most attractive rooms is the reception hall, which has a pool and fountain. Running water was popular in Ottoman houses for its pleasant sound and cooling effect in the heat.

Egyptian straw matting is used on the floor as a form of insulation. The crystal chandeliers are mostly Bohemian and the carpets are from Hereke. Despite her initial reception, Empress Eugénie of France was so delighted by the elegance of the palace that she had a copy of the window in the guest room made for her bedroom in Tuileries Palace, in Paris, France.

The palace and the neighbourhood was named for a beylerbey, a title which means "lord of the lords", this was Mehmet Pasha, Governer of Rumelia(Turkish territory in European Side). The first sultan who resided here was Mahmud II. It was constructed in 1861-65 by Sarkis Balyan, a famous Armenian architect. 5000 people from all over Anatolia including the best masters worked for the construction. They were all paid by the Sultan. It was mainly used as a summer residence, first famous visitor was French Impress Eugenie in 1869, later visitors were Franz Joseph of Austria, King Edward of England. The palace is now used as a museum.

The palace is divided into two sections as the other Ottoman Palaces, selamlik and harem. Selamlik was the section which was open to men and where the meetings, receptions took place. The building is a 3- storey one, the first one was for service departments, the upper two was for state rroms and imperial apartments, a total of 26 elegantly designed chambers, 6 grand halls. It is very elegant in general, with Hereke Carpets, Czech Bohemian Crystal Chandeliers, French Clocks, Chinese, Japanese and French Vases, furniture from Damascus and France, paintings from Russian Aivazovsky.

Unlike the other palaces, there is no heating system in this palace, because it was only used for summer-time purposes. There is a marble pool with a fountain which operates as a natural air conditioning. Another point about the palace is its very European atmosphere. The gardens and the design of the rooms show this. The kitchens of the palace are located in the adjacent building, because the smell of the food disturbed the sultan and there was the risk of fire.

Right by the Bosphorus Bridge and the waterfront, the palace is lovely and 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.

Beylerbeyi was initially the residence of the Governor General in charge of Anatolia, but was rebuilt in the style of Dolmabahce and Çiragan palaces as a royal palace in the between 1861-1865 on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and served as the summer residence of the sultans. The palace was ordered by Sultan Abdulaziz to the architects Sarkis Balyan and Agop Balyan in neo-baroque architecture with a traditional Ottoman house plan. Beylerbeyi is built on two main floors and a basement containing kitchens and storage, and was divided into two sections; Selamlik (men's section) and Harem. There are a total of 3 entrances, 6 state rooms and 26 smaller rooms.

The palace is located at Beylerbeyi neighborhood, north of Uskudar district, next to the intercontinental suspension bridge built in 1974. It has great views of the Bosphorus and its European shores, and exquisite grounds with terraced gardens.

Open daily between 9:00-5:00 p.m. except Mondays & Thursdays
Tel: (216) 321 93 20


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