Housing the oldest surviving institution of learning in Istanbul, the crowning jewel of Fener is the principle school for the small Greek population. The building was erected in 1881 but served as the Patriarchate School during the Byzantine era. After the conquest, the Patriarchate was granted special rights and the school was allowed to reopen.
Under the sultanate, Greeks called the school the Megali Scholio (Great School), and some of the more prominent names of the Byzantine Empire were educated here, including Palaeologus, Cantacuzejnus, and Cantemir. The soaring dome sits on a thick drum whose upper floor houses an observatory for instruction in astronomy. The best view of the school is from down below (or halfway down the steeply sloping Sancaktar Yokusu); you can’t get in unless you’re up for some aerobics, so just admire it from the base of the hill.
The oldest settlement on the Golden Horn, Balat is like a miniature Istanbul with its uniform streets, its two and three-story houses with cantilevered balconies, its staircases jutting up the steep slopes, and its places of worship at every step.
Balat is a quarter that has extended its hospitality to a large number of different communities in its time. From the Byzantine Greeks to Jews that fled the Spanish Inquisition and the Armenians that settled in Istanbul, Balat has been a place of residence for numerous disparate ethnic groups. Many a migration route has ended in the old Golden Horn quarter of Balat, which to the outsider today appears mysterious and even a little forbidding.
GATEWAY TO PALACES
The shores of the Golden Horn were once lined with defense walls punctuated by a large number of gates to the city. Arriving at the palace by sea, the Byzantine emperors used the Balat Gate, known then as ‘Vasiliki Pili’. This gate stood on the road leading to the Tekfur Saray, the only Byzantine palace still standing today and an annex of the Blachernae Palace as it was known by its old name, as well as to the notorious Anemas Dungeons. The name Balat is said to derive from the word ‘palation’, which means palace in Greek. Quiet and peaceful today, and almost deserted at nightfall, the streets of Balat once bustled at all hours of the day.
Holy Spring of the Virgin Mary
When I stepped into the street leading to Balat from the walls of the Ayvansaray where the tombs of the Sahabe (Companions of the Prophet Muhammed) are located, the first thing I encountered at the gate was the ‘Ayazma’ or Holy Spring of the Virgin Mary. A young priest here is telling visitors about the Golden Horn and Balat. Legend has it that there was once a rock fragment of dazzling whiteness sticking up out of the waters of the Bosphorus, the strait dividing the Asian and European continents, off the coast of Chalcedon. Startled by its brilliance, the pelamydes (the small tuna known in Turkish as ‘palamut’) took refuge at nightfall in the Golden Horn on their migration route from the Black Sea to the Aegean. So great were their numbers that the entire estuary glowed with their phosphorescence. According to some this is the origin of the name ‘Golden Horn’, while others claim it derives from the sheer abundance of the fish. All the people of Byzantium flocked down to the shore from the gates along the Golden Horn to catch fish there with their bare hands, and behind the walls Palation (Balat) became a scene of great festivity. Although the fish migrations steadily declined, Balat remained the last stop for communities in search of a new home.
DISTRICT OF ETHNIC MINORITIES
Balat has gone down in history as a district of ethnic minorities. Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition took refuge in Istanbul during the reign of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and were settled at Balat, which in those days was a final destination for Jews from all over the place. The altar of the Ahrida Synagogue on Vodina Avenue resembles a ship’s prow. According to one legend, this structure is a fragment of Noah’s ark while according to another it is said to represent the galleons that brought the Jews from Spain to Istanbul. Another of the still active synagogues, located on Düriye Street, Yanbol Synagogue was built by Jews from Bulgaria. Practically every street where Jews lived had it own synagogue in those days.When the sultan on 27 August 1839 issue a firman declaring that ‘every community has a right to build its own hospital’, a hospital was constructed on the coast road to meet the needs of the Jewish population. Due to a lack of sufficient funds to build a hospital, health care previously had been provided at home. In 1896, today’s magnificent Or-Ahayim Hospital was erected by a well-known architect of the period, Gabriel Tedesci. Continuing along the shore, one encounters the striking Bulgarian Church of Saint Stephen, which rises on an island right in the middle of the road. Rumor has it that this church was built in one month. Since the reigning Sultan Abdulaziz granted only a single month for its construction, it was prefabricated in Vienna of cast iron and shipped by sea to Istanbul where it was then assembled. Being distinguished architecturally as the only church of its kind in the world, it also boasts a unique icon of Jesus and the Virgin Mary whose like is not found in any other church. The Armenian Church of Surp Hreshdagabed in Kamış Street attracts attention for its unusual architecture and its ‘ayazma’ or holy spring. Originally a Greek church, later it was converted into an Armenian church. The bones of Saint Artemios, which were found during a restoration, are on display in the ayazma section underneath the building. There are also numerous Greek churches in the quarter which only open their doors on holidays and other important occasions. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is located in Balat. As we proceed towards it along Vodina Avenue, we see the Greek Boys’ School at the end of the steep intersecting street known as the Sancaktar Yokuş, an imposing, eye-dazzling structure that dominates the quarter from its position on the hill. Next to it stands the Greek Girls’ School where education continues despite a gradually dwindling number of students. Immediately below the school is the house, now converted into a museum, of the Prince of Moldavia, Dimitri Kantemir, who made important contributions to classical Turkish music. When Muslims to began to make their homes here, mosques, dervish lodges, and even an entire mosque complex went up at Balat, where there had been not so much as a ‘mescid’ or small mosque in the time of Mehmed the Conqueror. The best known of these buildings is the Ferruh Kethuda Complex in the street of the same name, designed by the 16th century Ottoman architect known as Mimar Sinan and consisting of a mosque, a dervish lodge, a fountain and court buildings.
BACK TO THE OLD DAYS
Once at Balat the peal of church bells mingled with the drone of prayers rising from the synagogues and the ripple of water in the holy springs. Most of the Jews emigrated to Israel in the 1940’s and in time the other non-Muslim minorities resettled in the more upscale Istanbul districts of Galata, Pera and Şişli. Later Balat continued to offer its traditional hospitality to poor people coming from other areas, including migrants from various parts of Anatolia and even some gypsies who abandoned their nomadic lifestyle to settle here. In recent years, restoration activities have gotten under way in Balat, under the auspices of the European Union in particular, with the aim of recreating its former texture. The old two and three-story houses with their cantilevered balconies are being done up anew, and an effort is being made to restore the streets to their original appearance. But such restoration too brings change in its wake, and Balat is becoming more gentrified by the day. Whether it can return again to the old days is anybody’s guess, but it would seem it is going to continue to be a settlement of diverse communities as time goes on.
Gedik Ahmetpaşa Hamamı isn’t among the most popular Turkish bath’s in istanbul. But it certainly deserves a visit. Built “Gedikpaşa Turkish Bath” in 1475. This Turkish Bath is a double bath which consists of men’s and women’s parts. Gedikpaşa Turkish Bath is one of the most important Ottoman architectural historical buildings in Istanbul. It s in the centre and 250 m away from Grand Bazaar.
“Gedikpaşa Turkish Bath” is open every day from 06:00 – 24:00 hours for male and female customers at the same time, in different parts.
After paying the price to the cashier sections at the entrance, customers go to the changing cabins at the square section.
After taking off cloths and locking the contents in the cabin customers take on their “peştemal” (a kind of long towel used in Turkish Bath) and go to “hot” (Washing Section) section of the Turkish Bath.
There is a centre stone (Göbektaşı – marble platform) in the middle of this section and basins of the bath for washing,surrounding the centre stone and sauna at the opposite side of the centre stone (Göbektaşı) for a healthy sweating.
Ceiling of the bath is covered with several small and big domes which were made in Horasan. Turkish Bath has a unique pool for people who want to take a dip.
After sweating in the sauna, our masseurs comes and gives you massage with coarse bath glove for washing the body, on the centre stone of the bath.
After the massage you can wash yourself and take the advantage of a dip in pool.
After cleaning, one of the employee comes and dries your body with towels. After that, you can have a good time drinking tea and other beverages. Don’t finish your Istanbul travel without dropping by “Gedikpaşa Turkish Bath.”
100 A.D. The heyday of the great imperial bathhouses. Romans have transformed the daily bath, which includes cold, tepid and hot waters, into an elaborate, highly social daily interlude.
537. The Goths disable the Roman aqueducts, and the imperial baths never recover. Baths and bathing last longer in the eastern part of the Byzantine Empire, where the Roman bath mutates into the hamam, or Turkish bath.
1000. The Crusaders return from the east with the news of a delightful custom – the Turkish bath. Bathhouses are built all over Europe, and they flourish until
1347. The Black Death invades Europe, where it will kill one out of every three people within four years. Doctors warn that opening your pores in warm water allows the plague to enter the body. Bathhouses are closed and people shun water as much as possible for four centuries. This is Europe’s dirtiest period, when the traditional washing advice is “Saepe manus, raro pedes, nunquam caput”(“Hands often, feet rarely, the head never.”) As for washing the body, out of the question.
1762. Rousseau’s Emile, celebrating cold water and cleanliness, is published. The Romantic movement glorifies nature, and immersion in water makes a gradual return.
Here is what you should expect in a Turkish bath, from a source written over a 100 years ago, but since the customs didn’t change much you should expect the same today as well:
fold round the head, so as to form a high and peculiar turban ; the second is bound round the loins ; this is the ordinary costume of the attendants, and known in antiquity prmcinctorium and subligaculum, which have been of difficult interpretation, as implying at once a belt and a clothing. The third is thrown over the shoulder. They are called peshtimal ; the proper name is futa, a word borrowed, as the stuff is, from Morocco. While you change your linen, two attendants hold a cloth before you. The strictest decency is observed, though the apartment is not cut up into boxes. There is nothing which more shocks an Eastern than our want of decorum, and I have known instances of servants assigning this as a reason for refusing to remain in Europe, or to come to it. Thus attired, you step down from the platform into wooden pattens (nal in Turkish, cob cob in Arabic), to keep you off the hot floors, and the dirty water running off by the entrances and passages ; two attendants take you, one by each arm above the elbow, walking behind and holding you. The slamming doors are pushed open, and you enter the region of steam. Each person is preceded by a mattress and a cushion, which are removed the moment he has done with them, that they may not get damp. The apartment he now enters is low and small ; very little light is admitted ; sometimes, indeed, the day is excluded, and the small nicker of a lamp enables you to perceive indistinctly its form and occupants. The temperature is moderate, the moisture slight, the marble floor on both sides is raised about eighteen inches, the lower and centre part being the passage between the two halls. This is the “cold chamber “of the Turks, the Roman tepidarium. Against the wall your mattress and cushion are placed, the rest of the chamber being similarly occupied ; the attendants now bring coffee and serve pipes. The object sought in this apartment is a natural and gentle flow of perspiration ; to this are adapted the subdued temperature and moisture ; for this the clothing is required and the coffee and pipe ; and, in addition, a delicate manipulation is undergone, which does not amount to shampooing ; the sombre air of the apartment calms the senses, and shuts out the external world.* During the subsequent part of the operation, you are either too busy or too abstracted for society ; the bath is essentially sociable, and this is a portion of it so appropriated — this is the time and place where a stranger makes acquaintance with a town or village. Whilst so engaged, a boy kneels at your feet and chafes them, or behind your cushion, at times touching or tapping you on the neck, arm, or shoulder, in a manner which causes the perspiration to start.
2nd Act. — You now take your turn for entering the inner chamber : there is in this point no respect for persons,* (* The Roman expression, quasi locus in balneis, was equivalent to ” first come, first served.” ) the bathman (the tellack of the Turks, the nekaes of the Arabs, the tradator of the Romans) has passed his hand under your bathing linen, and is satisfied that your skin is in a proper state. He then takes you by the arm as before, your feet are again pushed into the pattens, the slamming door of the inner region is pulled back, and you are ushered into the adytum, — a space such as the centre dome of a cathedral, filled — not with dull and heavy steam — but with gauzy and mottled vapour, through which the spectre-like inhabitants appear, by the light of tinted rays, which, from stars of stained glass in the vault, struggle to reach the pavement through the curling mists. The song, the not unfrequent shout, the clapping (not of hands, but sides), (t The bathing men give signals for what they want by striking with the hand on the hollow of the side.) the splashing of water and clank of brazen bowls, reveal the humour and occupation of the inmates, who, here divested of all covering save the scarf round the loins, with no distinction between bathers and attendants, and with heads as bare as bodies and legs, are seen passing to and fro through the mist, or squatted or stretched out on the slabs, exhibiting the wildest contortions, or bending over one another, and
Under the dome there is an extensive platform of marble slabs : on this you get up; the clothes are taken from your head and shoulders ;- one is spread for you to lie on, the other is rolled for your head ; you lie down on your back; the tellack (two, if the operation is properly performed) kneels at your side, and bending over, gripes and presses your chest, arms, and legs, passing from part to part, like a bird shifting its place on a perch. He brings his whole weight on you with a jerk, follows the line of muscle with anatomical thumb, f draws the open hand strongly over the surface, particularly round the shoulder, turning you half up in so doing ; stands with his feet on the thighs and on the chest, and slips down the ribs ; then up again three times ; and lastly, doubling your arms one after the other on the chest, pushes with both hands down, beginning at the elbow, and then, putting an arm under the back and applying his chest to your crossed elbows, rolls on you across till you crack. You are now turned on your face, and, in addition to the operation above described, he works his elbow round the edges of your shoulder-blade, and with the heel plies hard the angle of the neck ; he concludes by hauling the body half up by each arm successively, while he stands with one foot on the opposite thigh.* You are then raised for a moment to a sitting posture, and a contortion given to the small of the back with the knee, and a jerk to the neck by the two hands holding the temples.
3rd Act. — Round the sides there are cocks for hot and cold water over marble basins, a couple of feet in diameter, where you mix to the temperature you wish. You are now seated on a board on the floor at one of these fountains, with a copper cup to throw water over you when wanted. The tellach puts on the glove — it is of camel’s hair, not the horrid things recently brought forth in England. He stands over you ; you bend down to him, and he commences from the nape of the neck in long sweeps down the back till he has started the skin ; he coaxes it into rolls, keeping them in and up till within his hand they gather volume and length ;he then successively strikes and brushes them away, and they fall right and left as if split from a dish of macaroni. The dead matter which will accumulate in week forms, when dry, a ball of the size of the fist. I once collected it, and had it dried — it is like a ball of chalk : this was the purpose for which the strigil was used. In our ignorance we have imagined it to be a horse-scraper to clear off the perspiration, or for other purposes equally absurd.( * ” The strigil was used after bathing, to remove the perspiration. The hollow part was to hold oil to soften the skin, or to allow the scraped grease to run off.”— Dennis, vol. ii. p. 426.t)
4th Act. — Hitherto soap has not touched the skin. By it, however strange it may appear to us (Whenever our writers touch on these matters, they fall into inevitable confusion, e. g. : — ■” In the baths of the East, the bodies are cleansed by small bags of camel’s hair woven rough, or with a handful of the fine fibers of the Mekha palm tree combed soft, and filled with fragrant saponaceous earths, which are rubbed on the skin, till the whole body is covered with froth. Similar means were employed in the baths of Greece, and the whole was afterwards cleansed off the skin by gold or silver strigils.” — Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece, J. A. St. John, vol. ii. p. 89.% ), the operation would be spoiled. The alkali of the soap combining with the oily matter, the epidermis loses the consistency it must have to be detached by rolling. A large wooden bowl is now brought ; in it is a lump of soap, with a sort of powder-puff of liff, (Nut of the palm, and consequently hard and not fit to use on the person. The Moors, though they do not use soap in the bath, always use their soft liff with their soft soap, which practice the Turks have imperfectly followed.) for lathering. Beginning by the head, the body is copiously soaped and washed twice, and part of the contents of the bowl is left for you to complete the operation yourself. Then approaches an acolyte with a pile of hot folded futas on his head, he holding a dry cloth spread out in front. You rise, having detached the cloth from your waist, and holding it before you ; at that moment another attendant dashes on you a bowl of hot water. You drop your wet cloth ; the dry one is passed round your Waist, another over your shoulders ; each arm is seized ;you are led to the middle chamber, and seated; the shoulder cloth is taken off, another put on, the first over it ; another folded round the head ; your feet are already in the wooden pattens. You are wished health :you return the salute, rise, and are conducted by both arms to the outer hall. The platform round the hall is divided by low balustrades■ into little compartments, where the couches of repose are arranged, so that while having the uninterrupted view of all around, parties or families may be by themselves. This is the time and place for meals. The bather having reached this apartment is conducted to the edge of the platform, to which there is only one high step. You drop the wooden patten, and on the matting a towel is spread anticipating your foot-fall. The couch is in the form of a letter M* spread out ; it takes less space than a chair. As you rest on it the Weight is everywhere directly supported — every tendon, every muscle is relaxed ; the mattress, fitting, as it were, to the skeleton ; there is a total inaction, and the bodyappearsto be suspended. The attendants then reappear, and, gliding like noiseless shadows, stand in arrow before you. The coffee is poured out and presented, the pipe follows ; or, if so disposed, you may have sherbet or fruit ; the sweet or water melons are preferred, and they come in piles of lumps large enough for a mouthful ; or you may send and get kebobs on askewer, and if inclined to make a positive meal at the bath, this is the time. The hall is open to the heavens, but nevertheless aboy with a fan of feathers, or napkin, drives the cool air upon you. The Turks have given up the cold immersion of the Romans, yet so much as this they have retained of it, and which realizes the end the Romans had in view to prevent the breaking out of the perspiration ;but it is still a practice with the Turks to have coldwater thrown upon the feet. The nails of the hands and feet are dexterously pared with a sort of oblique chisel ; any callosities that remain on the feet are rubbed down ; during this time the linen is twice changed(Galen (“Method. Therap.” 1. x. c. 10,) says, “Let then one of the servants throw over him a towel, and being placed upon a couch, let him be wiped with sponges, and then with soft napkins.” How completely this is the Turkish plan, one familiar with the bath only will understand. Explanation would be tedious. ). These operations do not interrupt the chafing of the soles((If you desire to be awakened at a certain hour, you arenot lugged by the shoulder or shouted at in the ear ; the soles of your feet are chafed, and you wake up gently, and with an agreeable sensation. This luxury is not confined to those who have attendants, few or many; the street-porter is so awakened by his wife, or child, or brother, and lie in turn renders the same service. The soles of the feet are exposed to a severity service which no other muscles have to perform, and they require indulgent treatment, but with, us they receive none. ), and the gentle patting on the outside of the folds of linen which. I have mentioned in the first stage. The body has come forth shining- lite alabaster, fragrant as the cistus, sleek as satin, and soft as velvet. The touch of the skin is electric. Buffon has a wonderful description of Adam’s surprise and delight at the first touch of himself. It is the description of the human sense when the body is brought back to its purity. The body thus renewed, the spirit wanders abroad, and, reviewing its tenement, rejoices to find it clean and tranquil. There is an intoxication or dream that lifts you out of the flesh, and yet a sense of life and consciousness that spreads through every member. Each breastful of air seems to pass, not to the heart, but to the brain, and to quench, not the pulsations of the one, but the fancies of the other. That exaltation which requires the slumber of the senses — that vividness of sense which drowns the visions of the spirit’ — are simultaneously engaged in calm and unspeakable luxury; you condense the pleasures of many scenes, and enjoy in an hour the existence of years. But ” this too will pass.”( (Motto Of the Vizir of Haroun el liaschid, when required by his master to find one which should apply at once to happiness or adversity.) The visions fade, the speed of the blood thickens, the breath of the pores is checked, the crispness of the skin returns, the fountains of strength are opened ; you seek again the world and its toils ; and those who experience these effects and vicissitudes for the first time exclaim, ” I feel as if I could leap over the moon.” Paying your pence according to the tariff of your deserts, you walk forth aking.A writer in the ” Library of Travel ” says : —” Strange as it may appear, the Orientals, both men and women, are passionately fond of indulging in this formidable luxury ; and almost every European who has tried it speaks with much satisfaction of the result. When all is done, a soft and luxurious feeling spreads itself over your body ; every limb is light and free as air; the marble-like smoothness of the skin is delightful’, and after all this pommelling, scrubbing, racking, parboiling, and perspiring, you feel more enjoyment than ever you felt before.” ,This chief of luxuries is common, in a barbarous land and under a despotism, to every man, woman, and child ;o the poorest as to the richest, and to the richest no otherwise than to the poorest. (Volney once entered a Turkish bath, and, in horror and dismay, rushed out, and could never be induced to enter once again. Lord Londonderry was more submissive, and endured its tortures to the end; but rejected the coffee, and pipes, and civilities then proffered. He has given us a detail of his sufferings, which appear to have been national. Sir G. Wilkinson, in his work on Thebes, cites them at length, and this is all that he deems it requisite to tell the strangers who arrive in Egypt on this subject. ) But how is it paid for ?
How can it be within the reach of the poor. They pay according to their means. What each person gives is put into a common stock ; the box is opened once a week, and the distribution of the contents is made according to a scale ; the master of the bath comes in for his share just like the rest. A person of distinction will give a pound or more ; the common price that, at Constantinople, a tradesman would pay, was from ten pence to a shilling ; workmen, from two pence to three pence. In a village near Constantinople, where I spent some months, the charge for men was a halfpenny (* The charge at Rome was a quadrant, or farthing; children paid nothing. ” Nee pueri credunt, nisi qui nondum sere lavantur.”■ Juvenal, Sat. ii. v. 152. In some baths it would appear that even grown persons were admitted gratis. ” Balneum, quoUsus fuisset, sine mercede exhibuit.” — Jul. Capit.f ) ,for women three farthings. A poor person will lay down a few parahs to show that he has not more to give, and where the poor man is so treated he will give as much as he can. He will not, like the poor Roman, have access alone, but his cup of coffee, and a portion of the service like the rest (“A poor man will go to the shambles, and cut off a bit of the meat that is hanging there, and the butcher will take no notice of it. If he goes to have a cup of coffee, and has not five parahs (one farthing), he will lay his two or three ‘on the counter, instead of dropping item into the slit; the next customer will lay down ten, and sweep them in together.”). Such habits are not to be established, though they may be destroyed, by laws. This I have observed, that wherever the bath is used it is not confined to any class of the community, as if it Was felt to be too good a thing to be denied to any.
Manual of the Turkish bath :heat a mode of cure and a source of strength for men and animals. London : John Churchill and Sons, 1865. Urquhart, David.
A ceiling decoration from Aya Andrea church in Galata.
Before the World War 1, the Russians travelling to Jerusalem for pilgrimage came to stay in Istanbul during their travel. The upper floors of the buildings that they stayed were arranged as chapels. Today these buildings don’t serve their purpose anymore but the chapels are still active as Orthodox churches.
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.
ARCHITECTURE and INTERIOR DESIGN
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.
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
This museum is located in the Yapi Kredi Bank building in Galatasaray district and contains a collection of coins, embroidered textiles, gold covered copper objects, calligraphy, rosaries, Karagoz figures and ethnographic works.
Open to the public during exhibitions around central themes.
Tel: (212) 245 20 41 and 252 47 00
The museum was opened in July 2005 by the Suna-Inan Kirac Foundation, another project of Koc family. The old building was originally constructed in 1893 by architect Achille Manousos and restored recently for the modern museum. Kutahya tiles, Anatolian weights and measurements, and Oriental portraits painting Collections are the permanent exhibitions in the museum. One of the most famous paintings in the museum is of Osman Hamdi’s “The Tortoise Trainer” (Kaplumbaga Terbiyecisi in Turkish). In addition, three art galleries and an auditorium are among the facilities of the museum.
Open daily between 12:00-18:00 except Mondays.
Tel: (212) 334 99 00
This museum is located in the anchor casting workshop at the docks on the Golden Horn (Halic in Turkish), an area that symbolized industrialization in the Ottoman Empire of the 19th century. The anchor casting workshop was built in the era of Ahmet II (1703-1730) and the building’s foundations go back to a 12th century Byzantine construction. It was restored under Selim III and used by the Finance Ministry until 1951. After a fire in 1984, the building stood in ruins. In 1991, it was bought by the Rahmi Koc Museum and Cultural Foundation, restored and opened to the public in 1994.
On the first floor, motors and steam engines are displayed. On the second floor are the scientific instruments and communications apparatuses. The entrance is reserved for the aircraft department, mint machinery for printing paper money and coins, bicycles and motorcycles, the naval department and ship engines. In the open area, there is a coast guard life-boat, a tram, a narrow gauge steam train, and a vertical steam boiler. There is a submarine in the water.
Open daily between 08:30-17:00 except Mondays.
Tel: (212) 256 71 53 and 54
The building used to be an electric power plant built by Hungarians in 1914 at the tip of the Golden Horn, and known as Silahtaraga Electric Plant. It produced energy for Istanbul from Ottoman period until 1983 then it was shut down because it wasn’t effective anymore to compete with modern technology. The grounds were taken by Istanbul Bilgi University in 2004 and converted into a university campus, restoring the power plant as well. Santralistanbul was opened as an electric museum displaying industrial power machines and for modern art exhibitions in September 2007. Entrance is free of charge and there are local student guides to direct you inside the museum.
Open daily between 10:00-22:00 except Mondays.
Tel: (212) 444 04 28
The exhibits here amount to little more than a wall of portraits, a waxwork bust and some yellowing imperial decrees, all housed in a small wooden hut that’s easily mistaken for a public toilet.
The Tanzimat Museum(Tanzimat means the Period of Reforms) was first opened to the public in the Ihlamur Summer Mansion in 1952. In 1969, the museum’s collection was exhibited there until it was moved to the another location called “the Çadır Mansion,” in Yıldız Park. After the mansion was left for usage of the Touring and Automobile Club of Turkey (TURING), the historical collection of the museum was moved to the new museum building, which is situated in Gülhane Park in 1983 and it is still exhibiting in this museum.
On exhibit in the museum are the Tanzimat Firman (1839), one of the most significant documents in paving the way to the westernization of the Ottoman Empire, signed pictures of leading statesmen of the day, and engravings and paintings. Moreover, personal objects which belonged to Mustafa Reşid Paşa, Sadık Muhtar Bey, and Ziya Paşa, all leading statesmen during the Tanzimat reform movement, are on display in the museum.