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Banyan is a story of love
and passion for food,
for exotic tastes,
for sharing..
World tastes are creatively blended with Asian spices to create uniquely delicious recipes.
Banyan Ortaköy, Muallim Naci Caddesi Salhane Sokak 3

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It was called Chalcedon in ancient times when Greeks from Megara came in the area in 685BC, 18 years before they do the same on Byzantium (at the other side of Bosphorus). It was also known as city of the blind because the prophecy wanted Byzantium to be built opposite the city of the blind because the people that settled at Chaldedon didn’t see the value of the area at the other side around the Golden Horn(Keratios Kolpos in greek). Many conquered Chalcedon over the years, including Persians, Romans, Arabs, crusaders and Turks (in 1353, 100 years before they conquered Constantinople!).

The centre of Kadıköy today is the transportation hub for people commuting between the Asian side of the city and the European side across the Bosphorus. There is a large bus and minibus terminal next to the ferry docks. Ferries are the most dominantly visible form of transport in Kadıköy, and the central market area is adjacent to the ferry dock.

Kad?köy (known as Chalcedon in antiquity), is a large and populous cosmopolitan district on the Anatolian side of ?stanbul, Turkey, on the shore of the Marmara Sea, opposite the city. It is a residential and commercial district, and with its bars...

Kadıköy (Turkish pronunciation: [kaˈdɯkøj]; ancient and Byzantine Chalcedon) is a large, populous, and cosmopolitan district of İstanbulTurkey on the Asian side of the Sea of Marmara, facing the historic city centre on the European side of theBosporus. Kadıköy it is also the name of the most prominent neighbourhood of the district, a residential and commercial area that, with its numerous bars, cinemas and bookshops, is the cultural centre of the Anatolian side. Kadıköy became a district in 1928 when it seceded from Üsküdar district. The neighbourhoods of İçerenköyBostancı and Suadiye were also separated from the district of Kartal in the same year, and eventually joined the newly formed district of Kadıköy. Its neighbouring districts are Üsküdar to the northwest, Ümraniye to the northeast, Maltepe to the southeast, and Kartal beyond Maltepe. The population of Kadıköy district, according to the 2007 census, is 509,282.


Kadıköy is an older settlement than those on the Asian side of the city of İstanbul. Relics dating to 5500-3500 BC (Chalcolithic period) have been found at the Fikirtepe Mound, and articles of stone, bone, ceramic, jewelry and bronze show that there has been a continuous settlement since prehistoric times. A port settlement dating from the Phoenicians has also been discovered. Chalcedon was the first settlement which the Greeks from Megara established on the Bosphorus, in 685 BC, a few years before they established Byzantium on the other side of the strait in 667 BC. Chalcedon became known as the ‘city of the blind’, the story being that Byzantium was founded following a prophecy that a great capital would be built ‘opposite the city of the blind’ (meaning that the people of Chalcedon must have been blind not to see the obvious value of the peninsula on the Golden Horn as a natural defensive harbour). Chalcedon changed hands time and time again, as PersiansBithyniansRomansByzantinesArabs,Crusaders, and Turks passed through the area, which was badly damaged during the riotous Fourth Crusade and came into Ottoman hands in 1353, a full century before İstanbul (Constantinople). Thus, Kadıköy has the oldest mosque in İstanbul, built almost a century before the conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

At the time of the conquest, Chalcedon was a rural settlement outside the protection of the city. It was soon put under the jurisdiction of the İstanbul courts, hence the name Kadıköy, which means Village of the Judge. In the Ottoman period, Kadıköy became a popular market for agricultural goods and in time developed into a residential area for people who would commute to the city by boat. The population was the typical Ottoman İstanbul mix of ArmeniansGreeksJews and Turks. Kadıköy has several churches (GreekArmenianSerbianCatholicProtestant) and synagogues.

Kadıköy has many narrow streets filled with cafés, bars and restaurants, as well as many cinemas. Süreyya Opera House is a recent redevelopment of the same named historic movie theater..

The market area is mostly closed to traffic and contains a wide variety of fast food restaurants serving toasted sandwiches, hamburgers and döner kebab. Many students go to this area to buy large sandwiches called ‘maniac’ or ‘psychopath’. There are also traditional Turkish restaurants and patisseries, bridge schools, bars with live jazz, folk and rock music, as well as working class tea and backgammon houses.

Behind the center lies a large shopping and residential district winding uphill to the Bahariye Caddesi pedestrian zone. This area was transformed during the economic boom of the 1990s and many new bars were opened.

Kadıköy’s entertainment is generally not of the affluent type. It has a more working class ambience; therefore, it is easier to find food of the like of kebab, kokoreç and fried mussels than haute cuisine, though Musa Dağdeviren’s Çiya is found here.

Kadıköy does not have as much nightlife as Beyoğlu (where nightlife also continues much later into the night), nor does it have Nişantaşı’s style of shopping or the Bosphorus for nightlife. Instead, it is often considered a cheaper alternative but may still be regarded as vibrant.

Kadıköy is a busy shopping district, with a wide variety of atmospheres and architectural styles. The streets are varied, some being narrow alleyways and others, such as Bahariye Caddesi, being pedestrian zones. Turkey’s biggest food market is there, starting next to the Osman Ağa Mosque, and has an immense turnover of fresh foods and other products from all around Turkey, including a wide range of fresh fish and seafood, olive oil soap, and so on. There are also modern shopping centres, most notably the large Tepe Nautilus Shopping Mall behind the center of Kadıköy, and pavements crowded with street vendors selling socks, pirated copies of popular novels, and other products. In the streets behind the main post office, there is a large number of well-known bookshops selling both new and second-hand books, craft-shops and picture-framers, and a number of shops selling music CDs and related ephemera such as film posters and t-shirts. Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music is sold in the arcade namedAkmar Pasajı, where associated items are also sold. On Sundays this area becomes a large second-hand book and music street market. Being a crowded shopping district, Kadıköy has many buskers, shoe shine boys, glue sniffers and schoolchildren in the streets selling flowers, chewing gum and packets of tissues.

At the top of the shopping district there is an intersection, with a statue of a bull, called Altıyol (Six Ways), where a road leads to the civic buildings and a huge street market called Salı Pazarı (Tuesday Market). The working-class residential districts of Hasanpaşa and Fikirtepe are located behind the civic buildings.







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A beautiful coffee shop in Çengelköy:

Çınaraltı Kahvesi is a special place where one can enjoy either tea or coffee while enjoying a breathtaking view of the Bosporus. Located in Üsküdar’s Çengelköy neighborhood, the coffee shop gets it name from the historical sycamore tree (Çınar in Turkish) it was built under. It opens at 7:00 a.m. and continues to serve customers until midnight. Çınaraltı Kahvesi was used as a setting for Turkish television shows “Süper Babe” and “Çınaraltı.”

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Istanbul's Top 5 Street Foods: #5 - The Galata Cucumber Man

Istanbul’s Top 5 Street Foods: #5 – The Galata Cucumber Man
(Editor’s Note: This week Istanbul Eats is celebrating Istanbul’s vibrant (and sometimes plain wacky) street food scene with a highly subjective look at five of our favorite street foods and some of the best places to get them. We’ll be writing about a different food every day, so join us …continue

Istanbul's Top 5 Street Foods: #4 - Maya Kumpir

Istanbul’s Top 5 Street Foods: #4 – Maya Kumpir
(Editor’s Note: this is the second installment in our look at Istanbul’s top 5 street foods. It was written by Jason D. Jones, an American expat living in Istanbul.) Although it’s been a staple food for many civilizations for over 2,000 years, the potato has largely been relegated to the role …continue

Istanbul's Top 5 Street Foods: #3 - Kizilkayalar's Wet Burger

Istanbul’s Top 5 Street Foods: #3 – Kizilkayalar’s Wet Burger
(Editor’s Note: this is the third installment in our look at Istanbul’s top 5 street foods.) The sign may read “Wet Burger” (“Islak Burger” in Turkish), but there’s a lot more to say about Kizilkayalar’s moist mini patties than that. How about “Heavenly Slider,” “Binge Drinker’s Delight,” or “The Best 2 …continue

Istanbul's Top 5 Street Foods: #2 - Çitir Simit Bakery

Istanbul’s Top 5 Street Foods: #2 – Çitir Simit Bakery
Let’s hear it for the (deceptively simple) simit. With only a few ingredients to its name, this sesame-encrusted bread ring has gone on to become the most ubiquitous snack in Istanbul, the undisputed heavyweight champ of the city’s street food scene. In fact, in recent years, the plucky simit has …continue

Istanbul's Top 5 Street Foods: #1 - Sabirtasi's Icli Kofte

Istanbul’s Top 5 Street Foods: #1 – Sabirtasi’s Icli Kofte
(Editors’s Note: This is the final installment in our (highly subjective) look at Istanbul’s top 5 street foods.) For years on Istiklal Caddesi, just beyond Galatasaray High School, in one calm spot stood the beatific Ali Bey, an angel in a white doctor’s coat offering salvation in the form of golden …continue

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The last village on the Bosphorus: Rumeli Feneri

The last village  on the Bosphorus:  Rumeli Feneri - Anyone wanting to rid one’s self of weekly stress and fatigue needs only to go past Sarıyer, a district near the Bosporus’s Black Sea end, and head straight for Rumeli Feneri.

Anyone wanting to rid one’s self of weekly stress and fatigue needs only to go past Sarıyer, a district near the Bosporus’s Black Sea end, and head straight for Rumeli Feneri.

The sounds of the city, stop and go traffic, the chaos — these are İstanbul scenes we are all very familiar with. But just think, only a few kilometers beyond Sarıyer, everything begins to change. The road wends its way through a few trees and heads for an actual forest. Somewhere along this road, the smell of the air begins to change. Village life really begins to make itself felt, along with the sea and the nature surrounding you. A little further down is a lighthouse.

This is Rumeli Feneri — the final point at which the Bosporus opens up into the Black Sea. It is also one of Sarıyer’s nine villages. During Turkey’s War of Independence, most of the people living in this village were ethnic Greeks, but today most of the 2,000 or so residents come from the Black Sea provinces of Trabzon and Rize. With the sea only minutes away, locals have made a living out of fishing. Rumeli Feneri’s elderly residents often sit in the shade of a large tree in the center of the village, not unlike İstanbul’s retirees. And homes here carry a definite trace of Black Sea architecture, made predominantly of wood.

The most popular symbol here is the same lighthouse after which the village is named. This lighthouse, which greets ships coming into the Bosporus from the Black Sea, was built in 1856 by the French. Villagers say that at the time the lighthouse was being built, it was destroyed a few times. It was thought that a holy man was buried at this site, and a tomb was first constructed here. Later a tower that stretched 30 meters into the air was built. The Saltuk Baba tomb is now located in the tower structure and is open to visitors.

Dolphins at Rumeli Feneri

Also in this village is the Genoese-built Rumeli Feneri castle, approached by a dirt road. The place where it stands is quite large, but much of what can be seen is simply remains of what was once a large castle that was used to protect İstanbul. While here, look out from the castle’s doors out to sea and listen to the sound of the waves hitting the rocks. Sometimes you may even see dolphins playing in the water here.

Urbanization is slowly creeping in. What was once pure nature is now site to luxurious villas being built along the coast. One sign that the city is spreading into this area is evident in the pools and sports fields to be found behind the gates to these homes.

Continue on through the pine trees, and stop by the village of Marmaracık, where you can enjoy blackberry and rosehip bushes that stretch along the two-kilometer-long road.

Also, having come so far, don’t leave without tasting some fish. Not counting picnic spots that surround the village and castle here, only fish restaurants look out to the water. After all, Black Sea fish is considered by many to be some of the most delicious fish in the world. Some say seas without much salt product delicious fish. This is perhaps why the yield of the Black Sea is so good. It’s wonderful to enjoy the taste of your fresh catch while watching fishermen do their work. Try some hot tea, as well, as no meal is complete without it.

Getting here is very simple. If coming to Rumeli Feneri by car, drive up to Sarıyer and continue in the direction of Rumeli Kavağı. Along the way, you’ll see signs for both Rumeli Feneri and the village of Garipçe. About 10 kilometers later, you’ll reach Rumeli Feneri. Public transportation can also take you all the way here. Buses leave from Sarıyer.

02 December 2009, Wednesday


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Highlights of Çengelköy: Gherkins and MansionsFor Istanbul residents, free association with the word “gherkin” calls up the name Çengelköy, a village on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus.

Nestled in a nostalgic setting, overlooking the waters of the strait, Çengelköy lays claim to fame not only with her succulent gherkins, but also with her historical seaside mansions and tomatoes cultivated on stakes. Nonetheless, Çengelköy remains a village (köy) in name only.

Some fine spring day, chancing to find yourself in the nearby district center of Üsküdar, you may opt to rent a rowboat. Distancing yourself from the shore and delighting in the mild weather, you leisurely sail past, in turn, the villages of Pasha Limanı and Beylerbeyi. Your approach to Çengelköy will be signaled by a glimpse of the brick-red Sadullah Pasha Seaside mansion. On disembarking and inhaling the aroma of bread baking in wood-fired ovens, you may wonder whether you have landed in another world. Strolling the main avenue, you will pass by shops with small windows, stands of fresh fish, the historical bakery, wooden houses, many of whose doors open onto the avenue, seaside mansions from the pages of history, the local inhabitants, and, of course, greengrocers where pride of place is awarded to the “Çengelköy gherkins.”  One other place not to be overlooked is the savory pastry shop.

There are a couple of stories accounting for the uncertain origin of the name of the village. Though little information is available about its status in the 15th Century, it is known that Sultan Mehmed II, while preparing for his campaign to conquer İstanbul (1453), discovered a number of Byzantine palmed anchors in the neighborhood of the village, whose Turkish counterpart (derived from the Persian word for “claw”) is çengel. Thus, the village became known as the “Village of Anchors,” or Çengelköy.  Another story puts forward the claim that the village derived its name on account of its renown as a place where anchors were forged.

Regardless of the source of its name, Çengelköy possesses a justly earned reputation as one of the most charming villages on the Bosphorus. Çengelköy preserves its special distinction despite being incorporated, like the other quiet Bosphorus villages, by the greater metropolitan area of Istanbul.

The Bosphorus has been justly acclaimed for the beauty of her wooden seaside mansions. In the past, Çengelköy also possessed a bounty of such structures. A number of these historical witnesses have been sacrificed to fires.  The Sadullah Pasha seaside mansion, built in 1783, is one of the few to have survived to the present.  On its last legs, the Edip Effendi seaside mansion is one of those still awaiting restoration.

Friendly inhabitants, piping hot tea, and a fatal plane tree
Seaside mansions are not the only reflections of history, of course. The inhabitants of Çengelköy are also distinctive.  The hale and hearty local old-timers and veterans beam with friendly smiles.  What makes them stand out is that they still enjoy amicable relations with their neighbors. Nowadays, when those of us who make our homes in outsized apartment buildings have difficulty in even recognizing our next-door neighbors, the residents of Çengelköy are closely acquainted with each other.

When shopping in Çengelköy, you are always greeted by warm, friendly faces.  True, the tradesmen and local residents already know each other. Though you may be a newcomer, you are certain to be treated as one of them. That is why the population of Çengelköy doubles or even triples on weekends. Many folks come simply to partake of the tranquil, friendly atmosphere.

Tea gardens named “Under the Plane Tree” are ubiquitous and Çengelköy has one, too.  Some 500 years old, the plane tree is 15 meters tall and measures 6.6 meters in circumference and 1.92 meters in diameter. Its history includes one unfortunate incident, however, and it has thus received the epithet “The Killer.”  As the story goes, one day a dead branch fell from the top of the tree and caused the fatality of someone sitting in the tea garden. Nonetheless, the popularity of the tea garden remains high on weekends. In any case, the tree itself is becoming decrepit. One sizable limb extends horizontally about a dozen meters.  Extending a helping hand, the Üsküdar Municipality has provided it with iron props at one meter intervals. In view of its antiquity, the tree was designated one of Istanbul’s monumental trees and taken under protection. Çelik Gülersoy, the late president of the Turkey Touring and Automobile Club, included it in his listing of monumental trees.

Fishers and cats
What more could anyone wish for than to sit by the sea with their legs stretched out, in the shade of this tree aged half a millenary? The waiter will soon bring you a glass of full-bodied tea to complement the savory pastry with ground beef filling you have at hand. Inhaling the fresh sea air, you survey the scene of boats, one after the other, docking and launching at the diminutive pier in front of the tea garden. These are the fishermen who set out before the sun was up. But it would be an error to assume that all those going out to fish were men. For the fishers of the sea include women and even children. You will be amazed at the quantity of fish that is harvested.

If you are not a cat-lover, you may be somewhat discomfited sitting Under the Plane Tree, for numerous stray cats of all colors and sizes wander about the tea garden. It is not unheard of to take home a cat to your liking. Growing up in this setting, they are tame. The local residents are very fond of cats. Bowls of food and water for stray cats are set out in front of nearly every house here. Several pet shops also offer a variety of cats from which to choose.

For car aficionados
Çengelköy also boasts a car museum. Going up on Bosna Boulevard, you will come to the Automobile Museum of the Sabri Artam Foundation. The museum preserves a variety of vehicles, including antiques, race cars, custom-designed cars, and motorcycles. It also offers a maintenance and restoration service for aging cars. This represents the most comprehensive car museum in Turkey.  It is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Çengelköy, which formerly supplied the entire Üsküdar area with its famous staked tomatoes and whose fragrance wafted throughout Çengelköy, is today simultaneously nostalgic and modern. It seems small, but, as you will discover, it possesses a number of pleasant features. Summer and winter, it welcomes the visitor with the same warm reception: You will always be glad that you decided to pay a visit.

In Istanbul Issue 4
An article by: Hande Kızıltuğ

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Desserts, puddings, kazandibi, tavuk gogsu.

Telefon: 0212 242 68 83
Yer: Sarıyer
Adres: Yenimahalle Cad. No:23/1 Sarıyer
Ücret: TL

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Famous throughout Turkey for its yogurt, Kanlıca’s specialty is made with a mixture of cow and sheep milk. This is not an ordinary, store-bought treat. Kanlıca yogurt is so thick that it was originally served by cutting it with a knife. The true test of quality was said to be that the yogurt would remain firm, even if it were accidentally spilled on the ground. While today’s version may not be as solid as it once was, it is still dished up with sugar sprinkled across the top of the creamy skin.

However, there is more to Kanlıca than merely yogurt. Situated on the shores of the Bosporus at its narrowest point, Kanlıca is more like a sleepy fishing village than a suburb of bustling İstanbul. No one knows for certain how this hamlet got its name. One theory is that before the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans, this was the area where many two-wheeled ox carts (kağnı) were made by artisans who had emigrated from Anatolia. Another theory is that the village name refers to the red seaside villas that once lined its shores.

During Byzantine times, the area was known as Boradion in honor of the nephew of Justinian I. By the time of Süleyman the Magnificent’s reign, Kanlıca was a town of 1,200 inhabitants, surrounded by gardens, forests and vineyards. People often arrived by boat for moonlit parties along the Bosporus. In the 17th century, Mehmet IV presented the town and vicinity to Sheikh Bahaeddin Efendi, and the area became known as Bahai Körfezi, or Bahai Bay. Eventually, though, the name reverted back to Kanlıca. This was a popular place for equestrians who came for long rides in the surrounding wooded areas. Even today, the Mihrabat Woods, high above the village, are a popular spot for weddings and picnics.

Visitors disembarking from the ferries exit to a small square that has one of the best-known landmarks of Kanlıca — the İskenderpaşa Mosque. This mosque was commissioned by Gazi İskender Paşa. Built by master architect Mimar Sinan, the mosque dates back to 1560. Originally the mosque was part of a complex that included a hamam and school. Sadly, all that remains now is the mosque.

In addition to its rich yogurt, Kanlıca is also known for the many yalıs that line the Bosporus shoreline of the village. A reminder of the area’s more elegant past, the wooden yalıs are perched on the water’s edge, some lovingly restored to their former glory, while others are slowly falling into decay. Among the many yalıs that adorn the shores, there are a few of note, none of which are open to the public, however. These are best viewed from the water.

The oldest yalı on the Bosporus is the Köprülü Amcazade Hüseyin Paşa Yalısı (the “Köprülü Yalı”), located between Anadoluhısarı and Kanlıca. Built in 1698 by Hüseyin Paşa, grand vizier under Sultan Mustafa II, it was here, in 1699, that the Treaty of Karlowitz was signed, acknowledging the Ottoman Empire’s loss of territory in Austria, Venice, Poland and Russia. Sadly, all that remains of this once grand home is the T-shaped salon, with its dome propped up to keep it from completely collapsing.

Dating back to the 1850s is the Sadrazam Kadri Paşa Yalı, another of the wooden mansions that line the shores of Kanlıca. This mansion was bought by Kadri Paşa when he married the daughter of the palace physician, İsmail Paşa. A grand vizier to the sultan, he later went on to serve as the governor of Edirne. Following his death in 1883, the mansion was passed down to his heirs.

Considered by some architects to be the epitome of 19th century arabesque style, the Ethem Pertev Yalı is featured in almost every guidebook of mansions on the Bosporus. Built in the mid-19th century by a former palace courtesan, the residence recently underwent massive renovations to restore it to its former glory. After her passing, the yalı was bought by Ethem Pertev, who opened one of the first modern pharmacies in the Ottoman Empire. He also bought the lot next to the yalı and expanded the structure. Disaster struck the family, however, when his youngest son, Fehmi, was found drowned next to the boathouse. In 1932, the yalı was bought by Murside Günesin, a widow with two sons. In the mid-1940s, the household was stunned when a ferry slammed into the house. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident, and there was minimal damage to the dwelling. Her sons continued to live in the yalı on and off and they raised their families there. Eventually, though, the house was sold once again, this time in May 2000, to the Köprülü family.

Two other wooden mansions of note in Kanlıca are the Hacı Reşit Bey and Princess Rükiye yalıs. The Hacı Reşit Bey Yalı was built in the 1850s and was restored in the 1980s by Barlas Turan. The Princess Rükiye Yalı, located next to the Hacı Reşit Bey mansion, was presented to Princess Rükiye, the daughter of the Ottoman governor of Egypt, Abbas Halim Paşa. In later years, the house passed on to Princess Iffet, one of the relatives of Khedive Ismail Paşa. In 1957, the mansion was purchased by Özdemir Atman.

Even though it is a part of the sprawling city, Kanlıca has managed to retain the feeling of a small, intimate village. Tucked away in a cove on the Bosporus just past the second bridge, Kanlıca offers a step back to a more sedate, elegant time.

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Beylerbeyi Palace / Beylerbeyi - Istanbul


Opening Times
Open to Public Everyday except on Mondays and Thursdays between; 01 October – 28 February 09:30 – 16:00 / 01 March – 30 September 09:30 – 17:00

Estimated Visit Duration : 30 Min. Palace is only visited by guided tours.

Cafe (Located in the garden of the Palace), Parking (Located at the entrance of the Palace), Toilettes (Located at the garden of the Palaces)

The Beylerbeyi Palace is located along the Anatolian coast of the Bosphorus at Beylerbeyi, north of Ьskьdar.


On this imperial coastal estate that rests on the woody Çamlıca hills, a Byzantine settlement is known to have existed as early as the sixth century when Emperor Constantine II (578-582) erected a church with a golden cross (stavros) that gave the area its name. The terraced gardens at Istavroz, known as Istavroz Bahçesi, were a popular resort area for the royal family. The Sevkabad Pavilion, built by Ahmed III (1603-1617) atop the hill, was used frequently by his successors Murad IV (1623-1640) and Mehmed IV (1648-1687) who came to hunt here.

Restored and enlarged by Ahmed III (1703-1730) and Mahmud I (1730-1754), the garden complex consisted of tiled and domed pavilions around a pool, baths, prayer rooms and service structures. Ottoman dignitaries also built mansions here. The name Beylerbeyi, which was not adopted until later, is thought to refer to Mehmed Paşa, the governor-general (Beylerbeyi) of the Rumelian provinces, who built his coastal complex here during the rule of Murad III (1574-1595).

Mustafa III (1757-1774) demolished the estate and sold off its lands. These lands were subsequently acquired by Mahmud I (1808-1839) to erect a summer palace at the Istavroz Gardens. The Yellow Palace, designed by royal architect Krikor Amira Balyan, was completed between 1829 and 1832 and consisted of a main building with administrative and harem sections, kiosks, servants quarters, baths, kitchens, cisterns and stables. This wooden palace, praised in the well-known travelers’ accounts by Fieldmarshal Helmuth von Moltke and Miss Julie Pardoe, succumbed to fire in 1851 and its site was abandoned until 1864 when Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876) ordered the construction of a fireproof masonry palace.

The area of Beylerbeyi on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus has been settled since Byzantine times. According to the famous 18th century traveler İnciciyan, Constantine the Great erected a cross here, after which the area was known as the Istavroz Gardens. Under the Ottomans this area was an imperial park or “hasbahзe”. İnciciyan relates that the name Beylerbeyi was given to this area in the 16th century because Mehmed Paşa who held the title of beylerbeyi (governor general) built a country house on the site.

The palace was generally reserved for summer use by the sultans or to accommodate foreign heads of state visiting the Ottoman capital. The Prince of Serbia, the King of Montenegro, the Şah of Iran and Empress Eugenie of France are among the royal guests who stayed here. The deposed Sultan Abdülhamid II spent the last six months of his life and died here in 1918.


The new summer palace, called Beylerbeyi, is designed by head architect Sarkis Balyan (1835-1899) and his brother Agop Balyan (1838-1875) in French neo-baroque style with a traditional Ottoman plan. It has a rectangular plan with the long side facing the water and consists of six halls and twenty-four rooms on two floors raised on a service basement. The six halls, three on each floor, are lined up along the longitudinal axis from southwest to northeast.

Round cascading steps in front of the mabeyn lead into the entrance hall (giriş holü), which has a double set of stairs at its rear end that give access to the reception hall above. Both halls are lit with iwans facing the mabeyn gardens to the southwest. The reception hall, also known as the Hall with Mother-of-Pearl, is adjoined by an audience room with luxurious wood paneling known as the Wooden Room (Ahşap Oda) on the seaside and a dining room on the landward side.

A corridor to the left of the mabeyn entrance hall leads into the Hall with Pool (Havuzlu Salon), named after a large oval pool at its center. The Hall with Pool, together with the Blue Hall (Mavi Salon) above it, occupies the center of the building, linking mabeyn with harem. Facing both the sea in front and the land wall behind, the two halls are linked by a double staircase with a skylight on the harem side. The Blue Hall, which is also known as the Ceremonial Hall, is named after its sixteen blue columns with orientalist capitals separating the central space from its iwans and aisles. Its roof is raised on sixteen arched windows that illuminate the hall from above.

Hall with Pool and some of its corner rooms, as well as some rooms adjoining the Blue Hall have naval scenes painted on their ceilings featuring Ottoman ships; the Admiral Room (Kaptan Paşa Odası) on the ground floor also has furnishings based on the naval theme. Much of the furniture used in the palace was brought from Europe, including crystal chandeliers from Bohemia and vases from Sevres; a wide collection of Chinese and Japanese vases is also displayed in the palace.

The interior decoration, guided by painter Migirdic Civanyan, reflects nineteenth century Ottoman eclecticism, which is a creative amalgam of Western neo-classical styles and traditional Ottoman elements such as the muqarnas, Bursa arch, interlaced arabesques and calligraphic forms. The floors, where not paved with parquet, are covered with straw mats from Egypt over which Hereke carpets are laid. The palace was illuminated by gasworks while no provisions were made for heating during the colder months.

Corridors from the two central halls lead into the living quarters or the harem, which is smaller than the mabeyn and simpler in decoration. It consists of rooms clustered around two small halls, the entrance hall and a central hall above, that are linked with a double-staircase. Some of the rooms appear today as Abdьlhamid II (1876-1908) used them while under house arrest from 1912 until his death in 1918, with furniture bearing his monogram or initials. Empress Eugenie of France (1853-1870), during her visit to Istanbul in 1869, stayed at the Beylerbeyi harem; Emperor Joseph of Austro-Hungary, Shah Nasireddin of Iran, Prince Nicholas of Montenegro and Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden were also hosted at this palace.

The gardens and kiosks A wall close to human height separates the palace and its gardens from the quay. Two sea gates rise above the walls near the mabeyn and harem entrances. Further out, located midway into the garden on each side is a small sea kiosk (Yalı Köşkü) with a tent-like roof. The kiosks are entered from the gardens through a portico and make octagonal projections onto the quay. Behind, the palace and its gardens are protected by a tall land wall, which becomes a retaining wall for terraced gardens behind the mabeyn.

Of the two gates that serve the palace on the landward side, one opens into a tunnel built earlier by Mahmud I that, passing underneath the garden terrace, exits out to the southwest end of the mabeyn gardens. Here, a ramp climbs alongside a tall wall separating the palace from the service and military structures and gives access to the first, second and third terraces to the left and the stables midway to the right.

The garden terraces were originally built by Mahmud II in 1830. The five main terraces of varied width are divided into seven different levels in places and rise up to 35 meters above sea level. The forth terrace has a large pool overlooked by the Serdab and Sarı Kiosks, the pool and the Serdab Kiosk were built by Mahmud II. Stairs and ramps, as seen today, were added by Sultan Abdülaziz who also reorganized the gardens in naturalist style.

The Serdab or sunken kiosk (Serdab Köşkü), also known as marble kiosk (Mermer Köşk), is a three-room marble structure partially buried into the retaining wall of the terrace above. With views out to the pool in front and the Bosphorus beyond, the kiosk is designed to provide solace from the summer heat; a central fountain, linked with channels to two wall fountains at either end of the main room, humidifies and cools the marble interior. Located at the same level to the east of the pool is the Sari or yellow kiosk, a two-story structure with a basement, oriented to views of the lower Bosphorus and the Çamlıca hills above.

The stables (Ahır Köşkü), the only remaining equestrian structure in an Ottoman palace, is a long rectangular building with an octagonal entrance hall projecting outward at the center. Entered through a broad pair of glass doors, the entrance hall leads into the brick-paved main space with a small marble pool and twenty stalls. Paintings of horses decorate the ceilings of the kiosk entrance hall whose arched windows resemble horseshoes.

Many of the palace service structures, such as the kitchens, have not survived. Sections of the larger gardens, including the deer woods, were given to nearby schools while some small structures once found in the gardens have not survived: the Sultan’s or Hünkar Kiosk (Hünkar Köşkü), the music pavilion (Muzika Dairesi), the deer house (Geyiklik), the lion house (Aslanhane), the dove cote (Güvercinlik) and the bird pavilion (Büyük Kuşluk). The palace baths up the hill have been demolished to make way for road expansion.

Today, the remaining palace buildings stand in the shadow of the cross-continental Bosphorus Bridge built in 1974; the supports for the colossal suspension bridge are situated immediately below the stables. The palace complex is flanked by the dormitories of the guards (Hamlacılar Kışlası) and the military barracks and soup kitchens built by Abdülhamid I (1774-1789) down the Bosphorus, and an old residential neighborhood is found to its north.

State functions are held in the state apartments (or mabeyn) entered from the southwest, whereas the two halls to the northeast with their surrounding rooms constitute the living quarters or harem, entered from the opposite end of the palace. Both sections are preceded by shady gardens with pine, red-leaf beech, and magnolia trees planted around large oval pools. Although a uniform and symmetrical look has been maintained for the waterfront, a tall wall is used to separate the two gardens behind the palace.

The interior design of Beylerbeyi Palace is a synthesis of diverse western and eastern styles, although the layout of the rooms follows that of the traditional Turkish house, consisting of a central sofa with closed rooms situated at the four corners. The furnishing and decoration of the Selamlık or public apartments are more ornate than those of the Harem.

The palace consists of two main storeys and a basement containing kitchens and store rooms. The palace has three entrances, six state rooms and 26 smaller rooms. The floors are covered with rush matting from Egypt which protected the inhabitants against damp in winter and heat in summer. Over this are laid large carpets and kilims, mostly made at Hereke. The furnishings include exquisite Bohemian crystal chandeliers, French clocks, and Chinese, Japanese, French and Turkish Yıldız porcelain vases.

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. There are two pavilions on these terraces, the Sarı Köşk beside the pool on the upper terrace, and the Mermer Köşk with its interior fountain and marble walls, which provided a cool refuge in the summer heat. The Mermer Köşk, the large pool on the lower terrace and the tunnel are the only parts of the palace remaining from the earlier timber palace of Beylerbeyi. The attractive Ahır Köşk is a fascinating example of Ottoman palace stables, and of particular interest as the only such building to have survived in its original state.

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.

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Beylerbeyi Palace is located in the Anatolian side of the Boshporus, in the
province having the same name with the palace. The palace, making up
a complex with the palace in the yard and the surrounding buildings, was
commissioned by Sultan Abdulaziz to architect brothers Sarkis and Agop
Balyan in 1864.

The palace comprises of the Beylerbeyi Palace as the main structure, sea
mansions, one of which is women hall and the other is progression hall,
located in the sea front walls of the palace, Marble Mansion, Yellow Palace
and Hasah›r in the backyard. While the sea mansions and Beylerbeyi Palace
were commisioned by Sultan Abdulaziz, the other buildings are known to be
a part of the palace once located on this spot.
Beylerbeyi Palace, the main unit of the palace complex, is a two-storey stone
building built above a high cellar. The length of the palace, which is built
in parallel to the Boshporus, is 65 meters. There are 6 saloons and 24 rooms
in the palace which has staircase access from three sides. Especially Fountain
Saloon and Blue Saloon which have their name from the color of their columns
on the upper floor are the most impressive places of the palace. Also its garden,
arranged in sets, is another feature of the palace.
Address: Abdullahaga Road. 81210 Beylerbeyi-Istanbul
Phone: +90 216 321 93 20-321 95 51

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