Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayi)

Istanbul’s famous old Ottoman summer palace offers a grand view of the Bosphorus Strait and the Old City, as seen from the Asian side of this multi-continental city.

The Beylerbeyi Palace means “Palace of the Lord of Lords” and it was an Imperial Ottoman summer residence from the 1860s. Commissioned by Sultan Abdülaziz, it was intended as a “small” place to entertain visiting heads of state. Important guests that once visited the palace include the Empress Eugénie of France and Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia. These days, visitors of all walks of life are welcome to browse the palace and admire its grandeur.

Designed by Sarkis Balyan, Beylerbeyi Palace is a more restrained example of Turkish palace architecture. Even so, it’s an ornately decorated building and more opulent than most European or American buildings. Spread over three floors with more than 20 rooms, the palace has separate spaces for men and women.

Admire the opulent style of the original wallpaper, furniture, carpets, curtains and other fixtures. Many of the wooden chairs and cabinets at Beylerbeyi Palace were made by Sultan Abdülhamid II, an able craftsman who was under house arrest here during a shift of power in the early 20th century.

Keep an eye out for the luxurious Egyptian reed mats that cover the floors, and the heavy crystal chandeliers on the ceilings. Admire the fountain in the central salon and imagine how it must have been to be a guest here back in the early 10th century.

Step outside and head to the rear of the palace to see the large pool surrounded by terraces and stables. Take a stroll in the garden and rest a while at its charmingly positioned café to enjoy this oasis in the busy city.

Beylerbeyi Palace is located near the Asian end of the Bosphorus Bridge. You can drive there, but taking the ferry gives you a chance to photograph the palace across the water. Enjoy the palace’s scenic location on the Bosphorus Strait at one of the many nearby waterfront restaurants.

The palace is open daily, except Monday and Thursday, and there is an entry fee.

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