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Yildiz Palace, Istanbul



Yıldız Palace and park covered an area of 500.000 square meters on the hillside overlooking the Bosphorus between Besiktas, Ortakoy and Balmumcu. This area  of natural  woodland  became known as Kazancıoglu Park after the Turkish conquest, and probably became an imperial estate during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617).

Sultan Murad IV. (1623-1640) is known to have enjoyed excursions here, and Selim III (1789-1807) had a country pavilion or kosk known as Yıldız built here for his mother Mihrisah Valide Sultan. It is after this kosk that the park came to be named.
Yildiz Palace Istanbul Turkey

Selim’s successor Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839), Sultan Abdulmecid (1839-1861) and Sultan Abdulaziz (1861-1876) had new mansions and pavilions constructed in the park, and in the late l9th century Sultan Abdulhamid (1876-1909) abandoned Dolmabahce to make this complex his home. He greatly expanded the palace with many new buildings during his reign.

Yıldız Palace became the fourth seat of Ottoman government in Istanbul, after Eski Saray (the Old Palace) which stood where Istanbul University is today, Topkapı Palace and Dolmabahce Palace.

The section of Yıldız 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 Kosk (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.

The 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.
Yildiz Palace Istanbul Turkey

The 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.

Most imposing of all is the Ceremonial Hall, with its single piece Hereke carpet, custom made to fit the room and measuring 406 square meters, 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 sumptuous tastes of the period.

After 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 Huseyin of Jordan, President Sukarno of Indonesia, King Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and Preiesident De Gaulle of France.   

Today the Sale at Yıldız Palace is open to the public as a museum-palace, and private receptions are held in its gardens

Open daily between 8:30-5:00 p.m. except Mondays & Thursdays

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