The Yildiz palace complex is less popular than the famous Topkapi and Dolmabahce palaces. However, Yildiz Palace is one of the main palaces of Istanbul, the fourth and the last Sultan's residence in chronology, created in a remote and secluded place from the Bosphorus by the last de facto Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdul-Hamid II. The last sultans of the Ottoman house resided here and the centuries-long period of sultan's rule in Turkey came to an end here.
- History of the Yildiz-Saray palace complex
- What you can see in the Yildiz Palace Complex
The Yildiz palace complex consists of various architectural structures
Today, there is a palace and park museum on the partial territory of the former complex, which attracts tourists with its exotic beauty, eclecticism of the harmonious architectural combination of the Eastern Baroque and European classicism and, of course, a beautiful shady garden, where among the sprawling trees and flower beds are fountains, arbors, pavilions and ponds.
A tour of the monuments is harmoniously combined with a walk through the beautiful park
Purchase a guided tour of this palace, as well as other attractions in Istanbul, can be found on the tour website.
History of the Yildiz-Saray palace complex
Since the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire from the mid-15th century to the mid-19th century the main Sultan's residence after the Old Palace (Eski Saray) was the Topkapi Palace, which began under Mehmed the Conqueror and was later rebuilt and expanded by Suleiman the Magnificent.
Topkapi Palace was created in the typical traditions of oriental architecture
Under Sultan Abdul-Medjid the First in 1842-1853 the medieval Topkapi complex was replaced by a new modern palace built in the European Baroque style, Dolmabahce, which became the new luxurious residence of the Ottoman sultans.The Dolmabahce Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus was built in the European style
However, one of the subsequent sultans, namely Abdul-Hamid the Second, did not find this palace very safe, and he in the second half of the 19th century built a new residence, in the remote from the coast place of the former hunting grounds on the hill behind the palace Chyragan. It was decided to rebuild and expand the sultan's Yildiz estate and the Italian architect Raymond De Aronko was invited to build it for a new sultan's residence.
The picturesque hillside was used by the Ottoman sultans from the time of Suleiman the Magnificent, who converted the woods into hunting grounds in the mid 16th century. In the late 16th century, Ahmed the First built a small recreational pavilion. At the end of the 18th century, Sultan Selim the Third built a pavilion here for his beloved mother, and she decorated the emerging park area with a beautiful fountain named after her son.
The Yildiz palace and park complex was formed on the picturesque hills
In the second half of the 19th century Abdul Aziz the First began to turn Yildiz Saray into a permanent summer residence and several structures of the palace appeared here at that time. The palace of Abdul-Hamid II finally turned it into the fourth and last sultan's residence in Istanbul.
The interiors of the palace buildings were very luxurious and rich
Gradually, the new Yildiz Palace began to expand on the park area of the Chyragan Palace, which turned into Yildiz Park, where even today you can admire the exotic plants, well-kept flowerbeds, as well as preserved objects of small architectural forms in the form of the Maltese Pavilion, Porcelain Manufactory, court theater, the Palace-Chalet, having the Pearl Room of William the Second, etc.
Yildiz Park is now the most popular recreation spot in Istanbul
The whole aggregate of the palace with its villas and pavilions eventually became the fourth sultan's residence, where the entire administration and the sultan and the entire court moved. There were baths, a mosque, a pharmacy, a library, a zoo and other various facilities. The whole complex was surrounded by fortress walls, and the palace territory was guarded by 14 thousandth military garrison.
The natural forest surrounding the palace was also gradually being ennobled
It is interesting that the palace complex was created not on the European model, as Dolmabahce, but on the image and likeness of Topkapi, i.e. in the form of disparate pavilions and functional buildings. This was the ruler's wish.
This is what the Yildiz Palace looked like under Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
After the overthrow of Abdul Hamid the Second, the ownerless palace was looted, although the last fictitious rulers of the dying Ottoman Empire stayed here. In particular, Mehmed the Fifth died here (1918) and Mehmed the Sixth, the last sultan of the Ottoman house, lived here briefly. After the victory of the Turkish Republic the palace was somewhat neglected and territorially reduced, but since the end of the 20th century, after the restoration of a small part of it became a museum complex, and part of it went to the Yildiz Technical University.
What you can see in the Yildiz Palace Complex
As already mentioned, the palace grounds were modeled after the Topkapi Palace, i.e. they consisted of several courtyards, each with various palace and service facilities available for tourist viewing today. Unfortunately, many of the former palace buildings today have a different social function as educational buildings or administrative facilities, so they can only be viewed from the outside.
The sights of the First Yard
The first courtyard was also called the Inner Palace and had the function of a reception hall. Here were the guards, guests of the court who were waiting for an audience, etc. One of the main attractions of the area was the monumental structure of the Grand Maubein.
The Grand Mabane is the most monumental structure of the First Courtyard
This pavilion for rest, built on the top of the hill and located along the perimeter of the wall fence, existed as early as under Abdul Aziz the First. Under Abdul Hamid the Second, the recreation room was converted into a cabinet for receptions in the most traditional Turkish version. The big central hall had a sofa for the governor and a fountain. Here ambassadors of various powers were received, and official receptions were held for important guests.
All the palace buildings are surrounded by beautiful landscaping
There was also an observation kiosk in the first courtyard, built especially for the arrival of the German emperor Guillermo II in 1889. From this kiosk, which was accessible from the Gran Mabaila, Guillermo watched a military revue that took place outside the palace.
The elongated aides' wing, built in the style of a Swiss chalet for the sultan's secretariat and other aides, looks very nice. Each of the five secretariat rooms had its own entrance.
The assistant wing of the Yildiz Palace still looks very elegant today
There is also a separate building for the court officials, which is called the Wing of the Hagas. After the establishment of republican rule in Turkey, it housed an educational institution, and today it is one of the faculties of the Yildiz Technical University.
The building of the Armory was also located in this courtyard which was built in the baroque style as a one-story mezzanine pavilion with an original facade. Today, the services of the Research Center of Islamic Culture, Art and History are located here.
The sights of the Second Yard
The second courtyard, with all the buildings there, was the personal territory of the sultan and his family, so it was also called the Inner Palace. The main structure of the Inner Palace was the Sultan's pavilion, a place where the ruler spent his free time, rest and work. This rectangular structure, designed in the Art Nouveau style, is called the Little Mabein (1900). In addition to rooms, a study and various halls, there was a large winter garden.
The palace buildings stood on their own or were combined into small complexes
The luxurious interiors were decorated with great taste and furnished with French furniture. From the Sultan's pavilion one could pass through special corridors to the Sultan's private apartments, and from there to the women's quarters and to the Sultan's Turkish bath.
The Sultan's Harem in Yildiz is a peculiar complex of several two-storey villas connected by glazed corridors. Three villas were occupied by the sultan's wives, two by his concubines, and one was for the superintendent or treasurer. And, of course, the harem had a separate Hammam room.
One of the oldest structures of the Second Court was the Halls of the Sultan of Madre. This structure was the very first apartment of Abdul Hamid the Second, who settled here as early as 1877, before other construction work was completed. Today the university rectorate is located here.The former Sultan Madre Halls now house the university rectorate
The building of the Sultan's Palace Theater (1889) was built in neo-baroque style. It was decorated with a starry sky, because Yildiz means "star". A design feature of the theater was the absence of seats in the parterre, because sitting with one's back to the ruler was not allowed by etiquette. Abdul Khamid the Second was fond of theatrical performances and he had a troupe of actors at his court which included foreigners besides local Turkish actors.
The elongated large building, which today houses the Faculty of the Institute of Social Sciences, was called Moat Palace during the time of the Ottoman sultans and had its own specific function in the palace complex. It was where former sultan's wives, who had become widows, lived out their lives. After the fall of the sultan's regime, a dormitory was arranged here, and today it has been converted into one of the school buildings.A walk through the palace and park territory can be very long
A separate oblong building with four separate entrance groups was built at the end of the 19th century (1886-1900) to house the pageboys who served at court. That is why the building is called the Page Wing. Today it houses the Faculty of Architecture of the Technical University.
Yıldız Inner Garden
The Inner Garden, reserved exclusively for the members of the Sultan's family, was laid out in 1888 behind the high wall separating it from the outer garden and in close proximity to the Inner Palace. The layout of the garden was in keeping with the trends of the time and was a typical English garden, with bridges and piers, grottoes and greenhouses, fashionable at the end of the 19th century.Yildiz Park was formed according to the typical English model
In the center of the Inner Garden there was a canal, shaped like the image of the word "khamid" in Arabic writing. The islet in the center of the canal was inhabited by feathered birds in the form of ducks, peacocks, cranes, pelicans, etc., and the pond itself was inhabited by colorful carps brought from Japan as a gift from the Meiji Emperor.
The Inner Garden contained the Sultan's Hammam and the Sultan's Carpentry Shop, where Abdul-Hamid liked to do his carpentry work. The 90-meter-tall Library building adjoined the Little Mabein and today houses museum exhibits telling the history of the palace and the fate of its inhabitants.
Park ponds used to have carp in them
Two small kiosks, de la Isla and Kebap, were intended for prayer and rest. A small two-story structure in the form of a Swiss chalet was attached to the edge of the wall; from the upper floors of this Cihannüma or Belvedere kiosk one could admire beautiful views of the Bosphorus.
In the courtyard there is also the oldest palace structure, the Selim the Third Fountain (1805). In form and rococo style, it resembles the famous fountain of Ahmed the Third, located in front of the entrance to the Topkapi Palace, but it is much smaller in size.
Yıldız Outer Garden
The third courtyard had the function of the Outer Garden, today it is the territory of Yildiz Park. It should be noted that the territory of this park is quite large and reaches the Bosphorus. In the northern part of this park area is the most famous and most majestic pavilion - Kiosk Chalet.
The Chalet kiosk was created as a residence to accommodate foreign guests
The history of this kiosk began rather prosaically. At first it was the harem's bathhouse, then it was just a park pavilion (1880), and in 1889 the pavilion was enlarged and transformed by architect S. Balyan into a residence to accommodate foreign guests, the first of whom was German Emperor Wilhelm II.
In 1898 Wilhelm II visited Ottoman Constantinople again, and before his second visit the Pavilion was again enlarged and renovated by the architect R. De Aronko, who converted it into a three-story mansion in the style of a Swiss chalet. There were three great staircases and more than 60 rooms. The most luxurious halls were the Pearl Hall, finished in mother-of-pearl, and the 400-meter Ceremonial Hall, the floor of which was covered by a huge handmade carpet.
The Ceremonial Hall of the Chalet Pavilion is one of the most luxurious rooms of the palace complex
After the fall of the monarchy this kiosk was used by the Directorate of National Palaces to accommodate important foreign guests, and since the mid-1980s the kiosk became part of the museum exposition of the Yildiz palace and park complex.
In one of the small one-story park pavilions - Kiosk Chadir today you can rest and have a snack in a cafe. For this pavilion, built under Sultan Abdul Aziz the First (1871) on the shores of the Bosphorus, was converted into a restaurant complex.
The Chadyr kiosk was once a small recreational pavilion
Almost simultaneously with the Chadir Kiosk, the beautiful two-story Malta Pavilion or Malta Kiosk also appeared in the park. Its author was the Italian architect Fossati, the creator of the Berleibey Palace. This Pavilion fascinates with the triluminous structure of the facade decorated with elongated vaulted windows, which is the main decoration of the building.
The Malta Pavilion is one of the most notable structures of the Yildiz complex
The central hall of the Malta Pavilion has three symmetrical branches. In the part of the branch facing the Bosphorus, there are viewing platforms in the form of terraces. The pavilion has four entrances, from the main one the visitor enters a large circular hall, a two-way staircase from which leads to the second-floor living room. While climbing this staircase, one can admire the magnificent decorations of the walls and ceiling and the luxurious chandelier in the form of a stalactite candlestick.
Each of the stairs of the Malta Pavilion is beautiful in its own way
The ceiling of the central dome is replete with decorations of hanging and intertwining flowers, among which are the blossoms of pomegranates and roses, jasmine and carnations and tulips. In one of the lower living rooms is a magnificent marble pool, in the center of which is a large vase with four figures of swans bending their heads toward the pool and four stout fish at the top of the vase. The fountain itself was set among the fish tails, and water flowed out of the swans' beaks in leisurely streams. This living room is connected to the hall, which has two columns of marble, next to which is another fountain with swan figures.
The living room with the swan pool is one of the beautiful rooms of the palace
In many halls of the pavilion there are paintings in neoclassical and non-Islamic styles with images of landscapes. The floors are carpeted throughout, some rooms have fireplaces decorated with floral motifs, wavy cornices, columns decorated with leaves and turrets, very much decor with images of flowers and fruits. All this splendor is complemented by high windows that offer a view of the picturesque surroundings. Today the Pavilion is a restaurant complex and you can just sit and relax, ordering something delicious.
Also in the park Yildiz was the Imperial Porcelain Factory, founded in 1892. After the destruction caused by an earthquake in 1894, Raimondo de Aronco rebuilt it as a medieval castle with elements of Art Nouveau style. Today it houses a souvenir shop where you can buy gifts for your friends and acquaintances.
The small building of the Porcelain Manufactory resembles the tower of a medieval castle
Of course, there is also a mosque in the park called Yildiz Hamidiye Mosque (1884-1886), which is one of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul. It was designed by the Greek Nikolaki Kalfa, but it is said that the Sultan himself took part in its design.
The Yildiz Hamidiye Mosque is one of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul
The mosque is beautiful and unusual from the outside, with an elegant balcony, a central crowned top, and one minaret. And it is very beautiful inside! A real starry-sky temple in harmony of neo-Gothic and Muslim styles. An unusual and distinctive feature of this mosque is the presence of elements of palace architecture. The crystal chandelier hanging from the domed ceiling is a memorial gift from the German Emperor Wilhelm the First.
Inside, the Yildiz Hamidiye Mosque is designed as a heavenly temple
This mosque turned out to be the very last temple structure of the Ottoman sultans. In 1905, it was in this mosque that an assassination attempt on Abdul-Hamid the Second was planned, but he was detained and thus saved by a business meeting. But almost three dozen innocent people were killed in the explosion.
Also in the park near the mosque is a three-story structure of the Clock Tower (1890). The elegant Clock Tower, decorated with Arabic script, has a thermometer and barometer, a clock room and a weathervane on the roof.
Clock towers were built in almost all Sultan's residences
The palace complex has recently undergone restoration work, after which the palace's luxury will look even more luxurious. After the restoration, you will most likely be able to visit the museum exhibitions of the palace complex as before - from 9.30 to 17 o'clock all days except Mondays and Thursdays, but you can still walk around the remarkable park territory of the Outer Garden every day - and absolutely for free.