In Istanbul, gardens, yards, and orchards occupied an important place in the Roman and Byzantine cultures; this continued during the Ottoman era. As can be understood from historical sources, farming and gardening in the classical Roman period were deemed to be pursuits that corresponded to a noble title; this continued during the Byzantine period. The Byzantines' interest in agriculture and nature was greater than that of their contemporaries. Many place names in Constantinople were related to agriculture; the Turks continued this tradition. In addition to many places such as Bostancı, Fenerbahçe, Yeşilköy, Bahçekapı, Çınardibi, Çamlıca, Ihlamur, Fulya, Dolmabahçe, and Çubuklu, place names that include plants—such as cypress, hyacinth, crocus, lily, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, tulip, violet, or daffodil—also support this statement.
The first guidebooks written on agriculture belonged to the Byzantines. Geoponika, a work that provides information about agriculture and the best places to plant crops, was prepared in the 10th century. Byzantine sources mention the hanging gardens of the Byzantium Palace, located on the vast sloping field that extended from the Hippodrome to the coast, as well as the flower beds, canals, ponds, lawns, rose gardens, and garden pavilions; even the flowers in the gardens are described, as well as medicinal plants, vegetables, fruits, and flowers in the monastery gardens.
During the Ottoman era, the gardens of Istanbul were not limited to palace gardens or the sultans' hasbahçes (private gardens). Every house, no matter the households' social class or size, had a garden. In addition, there were gardens and orchards that supplied an abundance of food products such as fruit and vegetables to the city, as described in both domestic and foreign sources. Traveling to Istanbul in the end of the 18th century, Olivier wrote about the abundance and variety of trees in various places, as well as the fertile land and vegetation along the Bosphorus; he described the lines of cypress, oak, linden, chestnut, strawberry trees, myrtle, broom, and vines. He also described the rich variety of grasses and rare plants surrounding the Grave of the Giant on Yuşa Hill, across from Büyükdere. It has been claimed that the Romans brought species of oak from here to Italy. Olivier also wrote about the oak trees around the fountains in Topkapı, the people going to see the famous oak in Büyükdere, the trunk of which was two or three times wider than a human being, and the vegetation in various places in Istanbul.
Only some of the palaces built in the 19th century have retained any of their original features—for example, Beylerbeyi, Yıldız, and Çırağan palaces. Most of the palaces situated on the Bosphorus shore have lost their “backyards,” which contained gardens and orchards on the slopes, known as a dağ mahalli (mountain region).
Among the leading sources of information about Istanbul gardens are works by Evliya Çelebi, Eremya Çelebi, and İnciciyan. We can also find information on this topic in the memoirs of many foreign visitors who came to Istanbul, and in depictions of gardens in Ottoman miniatures.
The lifestyles of Ottoman citizens, including their architecture and all other aspects of culture, reflected the culture that developed in the palace. In this respect, it is necessary to examine the imperial gardens if we want to understand what the public was trying to imitate on a smaller scale. We also need to consider the hassa bostans (imperial vegetable gardens) and hasbahçes, which the bostancıs (gardeners) were in charge of. The bostancıbaşı (head gardener) supervised the Edirne and Istanbul corps. The bostancıbaşı was also responsible for ensuring the security of other palaces and gardens.
Fruit, vegetables, and flowers were grown in the hasbahçes. In addition to giving the sultan pleasure, these gardens provided revenue for the sultan through the sale of produce. The bostaniyan-ı hassa clerk kept the produce record book; the produce was sold and then the profit was calculated based on expenses and the sale price. The sultan would then be presented with this record. The income from the gardens' produce was high; for example, in 1813/1814, the net profit was 1,168,870 akçe.
The number of bostancıs changed in every period. According to different salary registers, there were 1,650 or 2,998 in 1576; this number was 2,396 in 1623, 3,707 in 1641, and 3,323 in 1746.
Istanbul Palace Gardens
The Old and New Palaces
Constantinople, after being conquered by the Turks in 1453, was in ruins; the conqueror, Mehmed II, ordered extensive reconstruction. Following the conquest, Mehmed II initially stayed in a tent in Edirne, but soon had a large palace built on the high point where Istanbul University stands today. Construction lasted from 1454 to 1457; after the construction of Topkapı Palace, this palace became known as the Old Palace. It was surrounded by high walls measuring 12,000 arşıns; however, due to a fire during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent, it had to be reconstructed at a later date. Inside the palace grounds there was also a freshwater spring. Suleyman the Magnificent also constructed three gates to the palace and reserved sections of the large palace garden for building the Süleymaniye Mosque.
Not much information is available about the palace garden, constructed by Matrakçı Nasuh Silahi, in part because foreigners were not permitted to enter this area. When construction began, a menazilnâme, in which topographic-map-like images of the menzil (stages on a journey) of the Ottoman army during Suleyman the Magnificent's 1534 Iran-Iraq expedition, was made; the palace was depicted as enclosed by double walls, with a few cypresses, blooming trees, and flowers.
This location does not appear frequently in depictions of Istanbul by foreigners who visited the city with delegations; the depictions that do exist provide far from adequate information. However, it can be understood that there were a great number of cypresses inside the Old Palace garden. From documents related to the saplings that Mehmed II had planted in the gardens, it can be understood that the cypress was the Ottomans' favorite ornamental garden tree. In the depiction of the Old Palace in the Istanbul Panorama in Vienna, the garden is filled with a variety of trees. However, both Matrakçı and the Swedish engineer Cornelius Loos, who visited Istanbul in 1710, depicted the garden with cypresses.
The location of the palace, which was built immediately after the conquest of Constantinople, was found to be problematic; the Historic Peninsula, surrounded by the Golden Horn, Bosphorus, and Marmara Sea, was deemed a better and safer location for a new palace. Sultan Mehmed II had his main palace built on a scenic and breezy location surrounded by seas on three sides; this was Topkapı Palace. He also had 5 kilometers of fortified walls built. The garden was designed as a series of courtyards along an axis. The outer circle formed a large garden; today this area is known as Gülhane Park.
Mehmed II took special care of the gardens. Evliya Çelebi reported that between 1458 and 1467 he had 20,000 cypresses, sycamores, and various other trees planted in the new imperial gardens. It is difficult to imagine how this garden looked at this time, as it has undergone great changes over the centuries. However, there are records regarding the former condition of the gardens. In Matrakçı Nasuh's Menazilnâme, the first courtyard of Topkapı Palace is depicted as painted yellow. There is no indication that there was a garden in this courtyard, into which only officials could enter on horseback; everyone else had to dismount and enter on foot. The Süleymannâme, which was completed in 1558, narrates important occasions from the reign of Suleyman I. In this work, the Bâb-ı Hümayun is depicted as a double gate, and the Bâbüsselâm has two towers. Between the two gates, there is a door, with the Deâvî Pavilion on the left. Pedestrians and men on horseback fill the road. The tree next to the Deâvî Pavilion was the unique connection between this courtyard and the garden.
In the Süleymannâme, the upper section of the miniature, which depicts the second courtyard, positioned across from the full-page miniature of the first courtyard, depicts the coronation ceremony of Suleyman the Magnificent. The verdant lawn of the courtyard is emphasized, with scattered flowers, grass, and two large trees.
A miniature in the first volume of Hünername, which is dated 1584 and narrates the periods of the reigns of the Ottoman sultans, shows that the palace was surrounded by fortified walls; between the first courtyard of Topkapı Palace and the double-towered Bâbüsselâm, there is a cobbled road for pedestrians, on which the word kaldırım (pavement) is written. To the left of the road, there is a scale and a pile of wood where the mirî (belonging to the sultan) wood was weighed; beyond this is the Hagia Irene Church, marked here as the Cebehane. On the upper side of these structures there is a fountain, which no longer exists today, next to a single tree, along with Deâvî Pavilion, where official paperwork was submitted. Cloisters are shown behind Deâvî Pavilion, and gatekeepers are depicted at the gates. A small pavilion labeled as a hospital stands on the right of the road; in it, two young men wait attentively, and a black figure sits inside it. In this miniature, as well as in Süleymannâme, no garden feature is portrayed. The second courtyard, also called the Alay Meydanı (Procession Square), was where the most important ceremonies were held; in all the miniatures, it is depicted as filled with cypresses and other trees.
The first three courtyards of Topkapı Palace are on one axis, and there are roads between the consecutive gates of the courtyards. Cypresses line both sides of the road in the second courtyard, as in other Turkish gardens. Though some centuries-old cypress trunks were blown down in storms, most of the cypress-lined roads of the gardens are still extant today. Many sultans realized that courtyards also served as a garden; this is proven by sycamores that are still standing today. Surrounded by a wall at sitting height, these sycamore-filled courtyards served as both flower beds and sitting areas. Examples have survived until today; we can also see this practice in many parts of Anatolia.
In the middle of the third courtyard/garden, a pond and flower beds were situated. Not only trees but also flower bulbs and seeds were brought for the palace gardens. In the Menazilnâme, Matrakçı Nasuh depicted tulips and carnations planted in bunches among the cypresses and various fruit trees, such as pomegranate, cherry, and pear, in the fields outside the city walls, especially on the Galata side; these are representative of the plants found in Istanbul gardens between 1534 and 1537. Muhibbi Divanı is the main work reflecting horticulture and love of flowers, forming the basis of Ottoman horticultural style for this period. Kara Memi, who gilded (with tezhip) the 370-page divan (dated 1566) containing poems written by Suleyman the Magnificent under the pseudonym Muhibbi, included traditional motifs as well as many flowers—roses, carnations, tulips, hyacinths, violets, marigolds, Manisa tulips (anemones), lilies, and colchicums—in a naturalistic style. These flowers and blooming trees are not only found in written works from the 16th century, they also pervade all branches of the Ottoman arts. As reported by Evliya Çelebi, a “flower style” was born in this period during which horticulture peaked, and Suleyman the Magnificent had 30 private gardens designed. In another document, dated 1735 and concerned with the trees planted in imperial gardens, it was ordered that in addition to cypresses from İzmit, Karamürsel, and Yalova, young trees such as sycamore, ash, linden, elm, cherry, hackberry, oak, laurel, redbud, and wild pear be brought for the Istanbul palaces; 4,000 of each kind were requested.
In the vast, sloping field outside the palace courtyards, the garden was laid out in sets—not only the above-mentioned trees, but also orchards and vegetable and flower gardens. Additionally, there were fields where various sports were practiced, especially on the side overlooking the Marmara Sea.
In a book dated 1526 it was registered that in addition to the tools purchased for the bahçe-i amire and the salary paid to the gardeners, tulips and other flowers were bought from Kefe. In 1576, for the palace gardens, hyacinth bulbs were brought from Uzeyr in Aleppo, and in 1587, 400 kantar (approximately 56 kilos) of red rose bushes and 300 kantar of white rose bushes were brought from Edirne. In 1592, 50,000 white hyacinths and 50,000 bright blue hyacinths were urgently requested from the Maraş highlands for the palace gardens. The orders recorded in these books clearly show that palace gardens were adorned with flowers. Evliya Çelebi reported that Topkapı Palace garden alone had 8,000 gardeners. He added that there were 40 private gardens across Istanbul, each with 200, 300, or 400 gardeners.
Beşiktaş and Dolmabahçe Palaces
Although the Beşiktaş and Dolmabahçe palaces and gardens were built separately, they were later referred to with one name. Süleyman the Magnificent's foster brother, the renowned Sufi musician Yahya Efendi, who was born in Trabzon in the same year as the sultan, moved to Istanbul, bought a garden in Beşiktaş, and opened a dervish lodge there. Following Yahya Efendi's death, Murad III had his tomb built in this garden.
Many buildings were situated on the seacoast in this garden; Bayezid II had a mansion here, and Ahmed I had a pavilion built here. It is recorded in the sources that whereas it had been a “cypress orchard,” during the reign of Osman II, the sea was filled in; at that point, this area began to be referred to as a dolmabahçe (filled garden). Evliya Çelebi mentioned that this place was called Beşiktaş because stakes were pushed into the seabed and the area between them was filled with stones; a garden was constructed there during the reign of Selim I, and it was turned into the Beşiktaş Garden by Koca Sinan (bina-i Hayreddin Paşa, kâr-ı Sinan). Evliya Çelebi noted that along with the Beşiktaş Mansion, this valley was “adorned with sycamores, willows, mastic trees, cypresses, Anatolian walnut trees,” and had been given by Murad IV to his beloved daughter Kaya Sultan. Raşid Tarihi, in the context of the sultan's move to the Summer Palace in 1719, mentions that the Beşiktaş Garden was superior to all other private gardens due to its exceptional beauty and the charm of the grove.
Describing 18th-century Istanbul, İnciciyan referred to Dolmabahçe as the Sultan's Garden and described its pure water fountains, from which water flowed in front of every window of the Çinili Pavilion and emptied into the ponds with fountains. In addition, he mentioned that Mehmed IV enlarged the well-loved palace. Selim III had an architect named Melling renovate this palace for his sister Hatice Sultan and arranged the garden in a European style. In the garden's maze, lilacs, acacias, and roses were planted. An engraving by Melling depicts the palace. In an engraving by D'Ohsson, the rear garden of Beşiktaş Palace can be seen covered in trees, with a hill visible behind it.
In the 17th century, Kazancıoğlu Garden, with its legendary beauty, was given by Murad IV to his daughter; the coastal palace that was later built on this garden by Kaya Sultan served as the basis for Çırağan Palace. Following the death of Kaya Sultan, this building was neglected; later, a large palace was built for Fatma Sultan, the daughter of Ahmed III and the wife of Grand Vizier Nevşehirli İbrahim Pasha. In the garden of this palace, the famous Çırağan festivals were held. The grand vizier had the treatise Tuhfe-i Çerağan written to describe the tulips and the festivals. Rashid Efendi described this palace and the garden where the sultan visited in 1720 as follows:
His Excellency the grand vizier Damad İbrahim Pasha ordered a Çırağan festival for when the unique tulips were due to bloom in the flower gardens of the coastal dwelling they had built. Among the flower beds, various candles, torches and candleholders were placed as decorations. Whatever was necessary was done in order to entertain the invited sultan. The sultan arrived with the Harem-i Hümayun sultanas and the Daire-i Hümayun retinue on the seventeenth day of Jumaada al-Akhir at dawn [April 26, 1720] and the days passed with music and engagement in conversations and entertainment; at night they were delighted with the amusement of Çırağan'slalezar.
Çırağan festivals were remarkable, especially the tulip festivals held during the full moon in April. Jars of tulips were lined up, interspersed with colorful spheres; on top, a line of nightingale cages would be placed. Everybody was thrilled to see this vivid, sparkling, and charming scene. Separate banquets were given on one night for the council of ministers and on another night for the harem, which featured a game during which the concubines searched for sweets hidden among the flowers. After Ahmed III was dethroned, his nephew Sultan Mahmud I, who acceded to the throne after him, continued these festivities despite objections. When this place was rebuilt in stone (1859–1860), a lion house and a small zoo were built in the garden. It burned down again in 1910 and stood derelict for many years. Having beautiful cast-iron doors, the imperial garden did not consist merely of the areas surrounding the main buildings. The road behind the palace, which still exists today, is connected to Yıldız Gardens via a bridge. There was a large gazebo, a lemon grove, and 128 sycamore trees in the garden that surrounded the palace. Lady Mary Montague, the wife of the British ambassador, wrote about this gazebo, the rear of which rose up the hill, the sycamores in the garden, and the ponds in which there were artificial islands with small boats, fruit trees, and flowers. Having lived in the palace due to her father's post, Leyla Saz vividly described the picnics of harem women.
This palace was not carefully designed like other palaces. Named after Yıldız Mansion, which was built by Mahmud II in 1835 to be used instead of a small 17th-century pavilion near Beşiktaş, Yıldız Palace is on top of a hill. It stretched out in a hunting area of 500,000 square meters. Sultan Abdulaziz had some mansions and pavilions built here, such as Çit Pavilion and Büyük Mabeyn. Immediately after his accession to the throne, Abdulhamid II deemed Dolmabahçe Palace unsafe and moved to Yıldız Palace. The large garden of this palace expanded and developed along with the expansion of the palace annex, gaining gazebos, greenhouses, ponds, and water features as it grew. Unlike in other palace gardens, the layout of consecutive courtyards was not used. However, the selamlık and haremlik were separated by high walls. Not only did the gardens take on the form of parks and woods that had naturally developed, the natural state of the paths, vegetable and fruit gardens, and flower fields was not interfered with; the result was a garden, which, even though a number of European gardeners were brought to work on it, had a unique Turkish character.
Some parts of the Yıldız garden and woods were reserved for game animals, while on others, hunting mansions and resorts for the palace residents were built. Boats, ponds, and European-style grottos were introduced to these gardens and woods, and water channels and bridges were constructed.
The gardens and the structures they surrounded created a certain unity. In one sense, some parts of the garden that were designed formally gave a natural impression of this unity. Suspension bridges were built across the large valleys near many of the rustic pavilions, although they do not appear in any existing photographs. In addition to the suspension bridges, there were many other bridges, both large and small.
In the same period, it was also common to import wild animals to European palaces from distant countries. This European practice could have been followed in Yıldız Gardens, where foreign gardeners worked. No cypresses were planted in this garden, due to the influence of European horticulture.
One of the documents mentions wild animals that damaged trees and young plants in the garden. Another document, dated 1886, describes repairs made to the wildlife reserve in this large garden. This implies that this tradition was still maintained in Topkapı Palace. In addition, according to the sources, the fruit and vegetables grown in the garden went a long way to meeting the demands of the palace. Greenhouses were also built in the European style and used to grow early vegetables. Today, the public continues to benefit from the garden and the woods of the palace, which have survived with little change.
Üsküdar and Kavak Palaces
Visiting Istanbul in the 19th century and falling in love with the city, Edmondo de Amicis expressed his emotions as follows: “Üsküdar reveals its mansion and garden-covered rising hills for the last time.… Masses of flowers are brought in pots from the orchards and gardens in order to be sold.” Üsküdar may have first taken on this aspect when Suleyman the Magnificent had Koca Sinan build the Üsküdar Summer House—also known as Kavak Palace—and the first structure in its garden in the 1550s. Mihrimah Sultan, the daughter of Suleyman I, lived in her large palace on Sultan Hill, which became famous after this date. Stephan Gerlach, who toured the palace with a group of Austrian delegates, gave his impressions in his memoirs, in particular the series of three walled gardens, which had been added to the palace in the era of Sultan Murad III:
The garden, full of fragrant plants, was tended regularly, and the flowers and trees of every species were like an early glimpse of heaven. We saw bulbs blooming, especially in red, white, yellow or red and yellow striped flowers. This garden was like a castle and walled off by other buildings and gates.
From the second garden inside these walls, there was an entrance to a third garden. Expensive Persian rugs were spread on the floors of all three buildings, especially in the one where the sultan resided. The seating in all rooms was raised a little and there were gold and velvet cushions. In front of the second largest structure was a rectangular white marble pond; here a small red boat had been placed for the sultan's children. In the middle of all three structures were white marble fountains with brass taps.
An anonymous Venetian source dated 1579 states that the Üsküdar Garden had been built by Suleyman I, Selim II, and Murad III.
A miniature from the Hünername, dated 1587–1588, depicts the kapıcı (gatekeeper) Hasan Agha, who had gone to Iran, as having come to Suleyman I at the Üsküdar Palace with a letter from the Iranian khan, and Sultan Suleyman as reading the letter while standing at the foot of several graves.
A miniature in Ta‘lîkîzâde Şehnâmesi, which was prepared at the end of 16th century, depicts Bayezid II in Üsküdar Garden. Sitting on a canopied throne in the garden, the sultan is hitting an animal on the head with a mace in order to “smash the lion and the bull.” Trees and cypresses are seen in the hills behind the garden.
Ahmed I and Murad IV enjoyed building mansions in Üsküdar Garden for themselves. Peçevi also expressed the beauty of this place:
The year is 1603, when the winter days came, the Sultan moved to Edirne after spending the summer either in Saray-ı Amire, or the heavenly gardens on the Üsküdar side. He spent most of his days hunting as he did last year, and he returned to Istanbul in the springtime.
There is further information about this palace and its garden in the memoirs of French traveller du Loir, who visited the palace in the 17th century:
There was an exquisite pavilion in the garden, where the Sultan resided only during summer. In the middle of the pavilion, the fountain and the flowing water around it provide coolness on hot days. The gardens of the palace are not as fancy as the rooms. There are no flower beds; vegetables are instead grown there. There are almost no ornamental trees. Only cypress and pine leap to the eye; these types of trees are seen everywhere around the city. Every house has a patio shaded by these trees. The only specialty I have seen in the garden of Üsküdar Palace is the covered passages built for the palace women.
Many other domestic and foreign sources from the 17th century describe Üsküdar Palace and the beauty of the gardens. Upon seeing this palace and garden in the 18th century, Carbognano described Üsküdar, Üsküdar Palace, and its gardens:
Üsküdar is adorned with a wide range of gardens scattered among the houses. There is also a caravanserai called Kemerhan.… A little ways from this city is Kavaksaray. This structure is next to a water spring called Hermagoras, just a few steps away and decorated with gardens full of fountains, mansions, and leafy, tall cypresses.
Beylerbeyi Palace (İstavroz Garden)
İstavroz Garden was located in the neighborhood known today as Beylerbeyi, but continued to be known as İstavroz Garden even after the construction of Beylerbeyi Palace. Evliya Çelebi described it as follows: “İstavroz Garden was the favorite of Ahmed I. In 1613 he turned it into a garden by having it walled off together with the land around it, and he had a pavilion, a masjid (prayer room), and rooms for the guards built in less than forty days in the garden.” Çelebi further wrote, “Ahmed I's son, Sultan Murad IV, was born here. He also enjoyed İstavroz Mansion, a pavilion, a garden, and a masjid, all located in the İstavroz Gardens, in addition to a Turkish village.” Çelebi also mentioned that the Greek church located in İstavroz, a word actually meaning “holy cross,” was in a state of ruin by that time.
During the reigns of Ahmed III and Mahmud I, the name Beylerbeyi started to circulate more often. It is also known that by the mansion there was an ornamental fountain facing the pond, and next to a domed and tile-covered room there was a çilehane, a Turkish bath with a glassed changing room, a pavilion with a fountain that faced the pond, the valide sultan's room, which was topped by a large dome and which overlooked the sea, and the haseki sultan's rooms on both the upper and lower levels.
Miss Pardoe described this palace garden in brief:
Peacocks wander among colourful flowers and fountain ponds. Gilded lattice windows prevent peeking inside.…. Let me mention the valley rising gradually until the mountain behind the palace and wonderful gardens. Every level is in the charge of a foreign gardener and every gardener arrays the garden in his country's style. The most superb of these is the section of “Swans' Lake.” There are magnolias around the lake, willows, gilded boats, “Hava Hamamı”; the water pouring from the marble ceiling and walls flow babbling from numerous seashells, coralline, and coral reefs, which create a continuous breezy air circulation. There is a gilded mansion on the top among cypresses and pines.
Although its glorious days were behind it, İstavroz Garden was revived during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz, in 1864, when the new Beylerbeyi Palace was built. Today, viewed from the Bosphorus Bridge, it can clearly be seen how Beylerbeyi Palace garden was separated into two parts, the selamlık and the harem. It is decorated with terraced gardens and flower beds, each of which is exceptionally beautiful; in addition, there are animal statues. On the top terrace there is a pond that measures 40 × 70 meters with a depth of 3 meters. In keeping with Sultan Abdulaziz's interests, the garden contained a geyiklik (small park for deer), aslanlık (lion's house), güvercinlik (dovecote), and kuşluk (aviary). There was a lion's cage here, and Sultan Abdulaziz, who had tamed the lion, would play with it when he came to Beylerbeyi Palace.
İnciciyan referred to this place as Beylerbeyi rather than İstavroz Gardens; it is thought that this name derives from the name of the mansion, situated where the mosques stand today, which was owned by the Rumeli beylerbeyi, Mehmed Pasha, who was killed during the reign of Murad III.
A document from the 19th century informs us about the fruit and vegetables grown in the İstavroz and Topkapı Palace gardens: summer squash, green beans, aubergine, purslane, grape leaves, asparagus, strawberries, lemons, mint, grapes, celeriac, turnips, broad beans, and plums.
Sultan Abdulaziz had foreign gardeners design a new garden for Beylerbeyi Palace, which he had built at the same location as the old Beylerbeyi Palace in a formal, classical style. The details of this garden revealed the distinctive features of Turkish gardens.
THE HAS BAHÇES (PRIVY GARDENS) OF ISTANBUL OUTSIDE THE PALACE ON THE EUROPEAN SIDE
Although there is not much information regarding the preparation or details of the Florya Garden, Eremya Çelebi described this area as follows: “There is a lovely garden of the sultan called Filurya; in August on the day of Urucu Meryem Feast, the Greeks and Armenians of the city visit there with their women.” The goldsmith Hovannesyan mentioned Yeşilköy, writing that “there is a village called Ay Istefanos,” and noted Kalatarya as a place worth visiting due to its Greek church and holy spring. He also mentioned Florya Garden briefly: “There is an old palace of the sultan in the vicinity, a garden and the Floriye Garden, in which there is fresh water.” However, Florya Garden was not among the has bahçes listed by Evliya Çelebi.
Formerly known as Vlanga and having existed since the Byzantium period, Langa Garden was in the location of an important ancient port; over time this was filled in by sand and pebbles settling out of Bayrampaşa Stream as it traveled to the Marmara Sea. Defensive towers were built at the point the stream opened to the sea; the port was filled in the 16th century, and it was transformed into a vegetable garden. In Matrakçı Nasuh's depiction of Istanbul, the garden can be seen within the square city walls, standing in the middle of a yellow field with two flowering trees. In a smaller square on a green field, a flowering tree and two garden wells have been depicted. Evliya Çelebi noted that nobles and commoners wandered freely in these areas, which were known as Langa Garden. Eremya Çelebi provided the same information for the 17th century and mentioned that there was a tower, called Papaz Tower, enclosed in double city walls, and that the cucumbers grown here were extremely large. He also said that the word vlanga meant greenery in Greek.
This has bahçe is thought to have been in Kabataş. Today, there is not much surviving information about it. Karabali was a statesman who performed a number of services and held a variety of posts from the end of Suleyman I's reign to that of Murad III. A document dated 1564 describes the repairs made to the water canals and sewer system in the era of Suleyman I. Karabali Garden is also mentioned in a document from Murad III dated 1580, which contains accounts for construction and repair activities as well as goods purchased.
Salomon Schweigger, who was the chaplain for the Austrian embassy after Stephan Gerlach, worked in Istanbul between 1578 and 1581; during this time he had the opportunity to see this garden and draw a plan of it. According to this plan, Karabali Garden is the only Ottoman garden that was influenced by Persian gardens; two intersecting paths divided the garden into four sections in a design known as the çahar-bağ. Mentioning that this garden was Selim II's favorite, Schweigger wrote that cypresses had been planted at regular intervals in two lines along the foot of the wall that surrounded the garden. Tall cypresses and short rosemary trees were planted alternately along the crisscrossing paths. Flowers and kitchen herbs were planted with fruit trees in square flower beds in the four sections that were formed by the paths, which were wide enough for three horses to walk side by side. In addition, Schweigger mentioned wooden pavilions in one of the four sections of the garden, one of which was a garden pavilion that had a pond and a fountain facing it, with a 20-square-foot swimming pond. He also stated that there was a tiled pavilion with lattice windows, not far from the garden pavilion, where Selim II liked to eat and drink with his companions. In Schweigger's drawings, a building with a hipped roof is shown to the left of the coastal gate; this must have been where the bostancı rooms were located. In a drawing of Istanbul dated 1588, although details about this garden are not clear, the Karabali Garden takes its place alongside the other important gardens of the era.
Reinhold Lubenau, originally a chemist, who worked in the Austrian embassy in 1587/1588, spent much of his time in the large number of has bahçes near the Bosphorus. He repeated what Schweigger narrated and said that there was a drawing depicting the Battle of Çaldıran of 1514, in which Sultan Selim II defeated the Persian Shah Ismail. Lubenau added that during his visits to both sides of the Bosphorus, he saw palaces and mansions in the Turkish style, beautiful gardens where masses of flowers bloomed in a great variety of colors, including extremely beautiful tulips; these gardens and palaces, which belonged to pashas and dignitaries, were at the feet of beautiful hills.
Busbecq, who introduced many flowers, in particular the tulip, from the Ottoman territory to Europe, made observations about his time in Istanbul between 1554 and 1562 in letters. He went on a trip along the Bosphorus, as many other travelers did. Busbecq stated that during this trip, he was granted permission to enter some mansions that belonged to the sultan, and on the gates of one of these mansions, he saw a masterful painting of the battle between Selim I and the Persian Shah İsmail. This drawing also explains why the garden there was laid out in the Persian style, which generally had a limited influence in the Ottoman Empire. As Gülrü Necipoğlu pointed out in her comprehensive article, the çahar-bağ pattern of Karabali Garden, an example of a Persian garden pattern, was not embraced, and the garden did not influence other Ottoman gardens.
At the confluence of the Kağıthane and Alibey Rivers, the Kağıthane mesire (excursion area) played an important role both in palace and public life. This was an area that belonged to the Bayezid II waqf, and was surrounded by large sycamores and meadows full of colorful flowers and tulip gardens, as well as the redbuds adorning the green hillsides; Kağıthane mesire was associated with celebrations and holidays in Istanbul. The public would celebrate the Hızır-Ilyas/Hıdrellez (arrival of spring) there; they would also come to this area during the summer, setting up tents and staying for days, weeks, or even months. There could be as many as 5,000 to 6,000 tents. A mass of artisans would carry out their trades here during the summer months in order to meet the needs of the crowd.
In Kağıthane, Vidos Garden, Alibey, and Küçükköy, there were farms, including dairy farms; the yoghurt and milk for the palace came from here. Sazlıdere was nearby, and had gardens in which zucchinis and cabbages were grown. The high point of Kağıthane was during the reign of Ahmed III, when his son-in-law, the grand vizier, Nevşehirli İbrahim Pasha, changed the course of the river. Kağıthane River was transformed into a straight canal, 28 meters wide and 1,100 meters long, reaching from the bridge in front of Kağıthane karakol (patrol station) to the Çadır Mansion; this was now referred to as the cedvel-i sim or silver canal. In front of this mansion, the river water formed a waterfall that cascaded over the two banks built along the canal, flowed into a large pool that lapped the walls of the mansion, and was then released to follow its natural course. Many subsidiary elements, such as watercourses and tunnels, were built in order to regulate the level and amount of the water. Also, in order to send the water through the marble courses, which were embossed with figures of fish, ingenious methods were devised, including a large pond, a series of marble bowls through which the water poured, waterfalls, bridges, and piers. The level of the water in the canal was regulated by sliding locks. Excess water was transferred to ancillary channels, and beautiful views were created with the desired water level. Under the influence of Yirmisekiz Mehmed Çelebi's plans, which he brought from Paris, where he had been ambassador, a number of palaces, pavilions, and mansions for dignitaries were built on the waterfront, in a European style but reflecting the taste of Ottomans in 1721 and 1722. The palaces for the sultans and other dignitaries were known as Sadabad. Their gardens were arrayed with water features and shared a similar eastern garden tradition. Nearly 40 orange saplings sent by the French king were planted in a line in front of the palace. Many days of merrymaking passed here; however, during the Patrona Halil Rebellion of 1730, all these structures were torn down in just three days.
Documents from the reigns of Ahmed III and Mahmud I, related to the reforestation efforts in Kağıthane in 1722 and 1745, describe the attempts to beautify the region by planting linden, ash, and elm saplings. A document dated 1721/1722 mentions the flower beds here and the uprooting of 450 linden, ash, elm, and chestnut trees from Yoros Town Mountains and their transportation to the Kağıthane gardens via ship; these were to be planted in the garden and along the edge of the pond. In another document, dated 1135 (1722), a forester ordered the wrapping of the roots of 500 linden, ash, and elm saplings firmly to prevent the soil from falling off. These saplings were brought from the İzmit and Şile regions to decorate Sadabad. Immediately after Sadabad was torn down, Mahmud tried to reforest Kağıthane, although he could not entirely restore the area.
Visiting Istanbul in 1784, the French ambassador, Count Choiseul-Gouffier, had his entourage make visual records of the city's monuments. He also had the artists accompanying him create depictions of Turkish characteristics and clothing. A scene in these engravings portrays Kağıthane River, the waterfront palace, and the Çadır mansion, showing water features, including waterfalls along the river and fountains.
A number of boxes in Topkapı Palace Museum have Istanbul landscapes drawn on them, executed in the katı (cut paper) technique; on one of these, Sadabad is shown rising on columns along with Çadır Mansion, which was built between 1815 and 1816 on the edge of the canal.
An 1817 engraving by M. C. Pertusier portrays Çadır Mansion and the waterfalls more clearly. In contrast to the European architecture of the palace, the Çadır Mansion represents the traditional Turkish pavilion structure, with its varied façade and sections built out over the water, resting on supports in the water; this is clear from its name (çadır means tent or pavilion). At first sight the mansion appears to be in the European Baroque style. However, the curtains between the columns could be rolled up when necessary like a tent.
The Armenian Mouradgea d'Ohsson, who worked for the Swedish embassy in the second half of the 18th century, depicted Sadabad and includes an engraving of it in his book. In a postcard and a photograph that depicts Sadabad before it was torn down, we can see how the curtains of the Çadır Mansion could be rolled up and how the lattice panels could be raised if desired; we can even see some parts of the main garden across the river, where the above-mentioned trees were planted.
In the Kağıthane engraving by W. H. Bartlett for the work by Miss Pardoe, who had come to Istanbul in 1839, Çadır Mansion is not present; the palace is drawn from a different angle. Here, the water flowing from the waterfalls and the lattice in the bottom half of the palace windows can be seen more easily.
A miniature in Fazıl Hüseyin Enderunî's 1793 work represents Kağıthane at the end of the 18th century. A part of the work was reserved for hubannâme (male beauties), and the other part for zenannâme (female beauties). A few large compositions in the book contain the pictures of beautiful women from various nations and regions, such as “Countryside Pleasure in Kağıthane” in the zenannâme section. In the background, Kağıthane Stream can be seen as it was during the reign of Selim III, with rows of trees, and the palace and Çadır Mansion with their extensions over the river. Behind all these is a boundary fence. The garden in this miniature looks like the garden depictions of some murals. The trees in the garden, whose saplings were mentioned in historical documents as having been brought and planted there, are shown on the right in single row. The cascades are depicted more accurately and comprehensibly in this miniature. In the foreground a fountain can be seen across from the river; this fountain has survived until today. Women are shown sitting under the trees in groups and lying on carpets. In the British Library copy of the same work, dated 1776, one can see fences and the wooded garden behind the garden wall.
Selim III had Sadabad Pavilion rebuilt out of stone; Mahmud II changed its name to Çağlayan Pavilion after it was repaired between 1803 and 1810. Sultan Abdülaziz was also interested in this place and, after having torn down the old one, had a new palace built in 1862 in the European architectural style. He also had the mosque there renovated between 1863 and 1864. The palace was torn down in the 1940s, and the İstihkam School was built on the site. Photographs of the end-of-year shows and picnics of the schools from Kağıthane, whose garden was arranged and maintained during the reign of Abdülhamid II, have survived until today; related documents exist. Although Kağıthane at times fell into disrepair, it was used for military and other purposes after this period; it was also used by the public at later dates.
After having spent time in many palaces, particularly in Çırağan Palace, and reflecting on her memories of the Ottoman palaces in the late periods, the poet Leyla Saz described the entertainment she enjoyed at Kağıthane, with special attention to the guests:
A few times during the Kağıthane season all the palace people were granted permission to stroll around. These public strolls were known as beylik gezinti. Everybody would wait eagerly for the announcement of the good news. Upon receiving permission, the chief kâtip or vice kâtip, who acted as the master of ceremonies, would pass the news along to the residents of the palace apartments. One of the masters of ceremonies would announce the good news from the doors of the rooms by shouting “Kalfas! The outing is on Friday,” and the girls who could walk with ease, running joyfully and telling each other the news.
In groups of three or four, avid youths would prepare feraces of same colour and decorations for the carriage. After lunch on Friday the private horse-drawn carriages of the dynasty were prepared, as water containers and bags were put on the carriage. When this carriage took its passengers and left, the others would board their carriages and depart. Leaving in this manner, the tebdil (incognito) carriages would arrive and the chief kalfas would get in from the side door. Outside the main gate, harem servants would bow down. Formerly, these servants were called baltacı.
Dressed in black—the style we refer to as Istanbulin nowadays—and wearing his violet badge dangling like a ribbon from his collar, the lead servant walks, placing his hand into the loop that hangs from the sultan's carriage window; servants dressed in blue walk beside the other carriages. As the carriages only proceed slowly, the walkers do not tire.
The curtains of the harem carriages are half drawn. The feathers of the golden-handled fan which the lady sultan carries, covers most of her face. She does not like sitting down in the square. People who want to go to Kağıthane or the Bahariye Mansion perform their afternoon prayer and then rest. The harem aghas present them with fruit from the mansion gardens and delicious yoghurt in ceramic bowls. The Çağlayan Pavilion is a favorite resting place. Most of the kalfas prefer strolling around to sitting in the carriage by the stream. They get the wandering minstrels to play their instruments, listening from afar and enjoying themselves watching the crowd of people. They talk about what they see and this pleasure goes on for days.
The entourage of every part of the palace leaves together and follows their effendi in the general outing. The Harem-i Hümayun are invited by the sultan. If they want to go, there carriage appear in lines before the harem. The kalfas queue up according to rank and the other members travel separately from the procession.
Kağıthane was also described in Miss Pardoe's memoirs of 1836 and Bartlett's engravings, which can be found in the same book. Although it had lost some of its former beauty by the time she witnessed entertainments there, Miss Pardoe expressed her admiration for Kağıthane as follows:
Nothing could have been more cheery and beautiful than the landscape I saw when I got off the carriage. Flocks of people were sitting on the lawn. Gypsy and Bulgarian musicians dispersed among the reveling people entertaining themselves. Flower seller gypsy girls were selling the pretty flower bouquets in their hands.
After being in a state of ruin for many years, Kağıthane today has been rebuilt. Although some positive regulations have been introduced, the area has developed a completely different identity.
Karaağaç Garden, located on the Golden Horn, was well loved by the sultans. Evliya Çelebi stated that this garden was built in 1672 by Mehmed IV; the garden was situated on the shore of Kağıthane River, where it benefited from the north breezes. This was a leafy area located near the springs in the Kırkağaç region. The İmrahor Mansion was located in the gardens. When the horses of the sultan were taken to graze for 40 days in the spring in the pasture on the waterfront, the foot soldiers of the imrahor would reside here. As Evliya Çelebi reported:
Sultan Murad IV liked the weather and water of this garden and would always relish being in this heavenly place. He would watch the people travelling by their thousands in boats to the Kağıthane festivities and pray for them. This heavenly garden is still the property of Sultan Mehmed IV and a private garden for the sultans. There was a chief bostancı and servant bostancıs. There was also the Ebussuud Garden, an adjacent vineyard with beds of roses adorned with pine trees.
The garden and mansion, which were well loved during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III as well, underwent renovations between 1704 and 1708. Trees like linden, elm, oak, ash, beech, and sycamore were sent from İzmit to be planted here in 1708.
Ihlamur Garden and Resort
The resort that was situated at the base of Yıldız Hill, in Ihlamur Valley, through which the Fulya River flowed, contained Hacı Hüseyin Vineyards, Ihlamuraltı Resort, and Muhabbet Garden. Situated where the Ihlamur pavilions are currently located, Hacı Hüseyin Vineyards were transferred to the palace, and a house was built here. The sultans would come here to rest and engage in sporting activities. Selim III had a pond and seating areas made here in 1791, while Sultan Abdülmecid had German gardeners make new arrangements, planting a large number of trees.
Visiting the vineyard house often, Sultan Abdülmecid welcomed Lamartine to Ihlamur in 1846. Between 1855 and 1857 he had the old wooden vineyard house torn down and had one Alay pavilion and one maiyet mansion built. These were biniş (riding) pavilions, which the sultan used when he came for archery drills. In 1861, Sultan Abdülmecid died at this resort. Sultan Abdülaziz held ram and rooster fights here, as well as wrestling matches. During the reign of Abdülhamid II, there was a promenade held for the sultan's family; his daughter Ayse Osmanoğlu narrated how they celebrated throughout the day, coming here with cold dishes for picnics. Sultan Reşad (reigned 1909–1918) liked this garden as well and made day trips here. A pond with a statue of a lion between two pavilions in the middle of this garden's rose bed was removed and restored between 1978 and 1985. The small fountain pond was restored as well.
One of the most important gardens along the Bosphorus was Bebek Garden. Evliya Çelebi briefly mentioned this garden as follows:
During the reign of Murad IV, when the janissaries rebelled in 1631 and attacked Hasan Halife, the janissary agha, the agha's garden was reclaimed by the state. Passing by here, there is Bebek Garden, where the sultans go. Selim I had a pavilion built here—which is not in very good condition—and a vineyard house. Going on from here, you come to Deli Hüseyin Paşa Vineyard, which belongs to the grand vizier. This vineyard has many pine trees. Here, in the Kayalar region are fifty dwellings and the two-floor Sıdkı Efendi Mosque. Behind the mosque is a spring, which flows through the rocks; after this, following the stream, comes Rumelihisarı. On the edge of the barrier between Arnavutköy and Bebek, the ruins of an old monastery can be seen. As the flow of the water is powerful at the shore in Akıntıburnu, a place where many ships capsize, ships and boats are assisted with ropes thrown to them from the shore.
Evliya Çelebi wrote that after this point one comes upon the Hasan Halife Vineyard.
Eremya Çelebi and İnciciyan wrote about Bebek Garden as well. They stated that in 1793, in place of the old palace, which was torn down, a palace was built for the daughter of Sultan Abdulhamid I. Carbognano described this garden as follows: “Bebek was a beautiful village once known as Khelus.… one of the sultan's mansions is on the coast.… Yeniköy was called Kommadones in the past, referring to its abundant trees and bushes.”
Marshall Moltke, who was in Istanbul in the mid-19th century, wrote: “Strolling around pretty Bebek Bay, walking along the coast from here, is a pleasant ramble. There, an elegant mosque under massive sycamores and a sultan's pavilion are located.” The author also wrote that most of the wealthy Turks lived in Bebek and that the sultan's friend and chief physician owned a house with a spectacular garden with precious roses in it. The garden climbed the high slope in terraces, and the road reached the old fortress progressing through a cemetery filled with cypresses.
Particularly toward the end of the 18th century and into the early 19th century, diplomatic meetings concerning problems between two states or regions would be held in Bebek Garden. In Melling's engraving, lattice panels hide the garden from the view of people walking along the seacoast, and from leafy garden behind the mansion are depicted. Some other buildings can also be seen in the garden on the slopes of the hill; these might be some of the garden pavilions. In Choiseul-Gouffier's engraving, the architecture of the pavilion is shown in more detail.
Baltalimanı Palace Garden
Becoming prominent in the late Ottoman period, Baltalimanı Palace garden had the characteristics of 19th-century mansions and pavilions. Mustafa Reşid Pasha had a stone palace built for Sergis Balyan next to his wooded yalı (riverside residence); when Galib Pasha, the son of Mustafa Reşid Pasha, was getting married to Sultan Abdulmecid's daughter Fatma Sultan, this palace was purchased by the treasury and reserved for the newlyweds. It was planned that the palace would be allocated to the French emperor Napoleon III and his queen during their visit to Istanbul; as a result, annexes were built and the landscaping was rearranged. The owner of the palace, Fatma Sultan, bequeathed it to Abdulhamid II's sister, Mediha Sultan, who later married Damad Ferid Pasha.
Leyla Saz characterized Baltalimanı Palace as a “fairy-tale palace … the sloped ground was arranged into a garden.” Shaded by old sycamores, evergreen pines, and oleanders, it was pleasing to the eye. “The oleander has a fruit that is similar to a cherry, but it is darker and has a shorter stem. People would tell us that it was poisonous, but we would still eat it. Abundant in Trabzon, where it is referred to as karayemiş or black fruit, oleander is sold.”
Owned by the state and surrounded by cypresses, Emirgân was known as Feridun Garden, as in the 16th century it was granted to the leading statesman Nişancı Feridun Bey (Pasha), who then had some mansions built in this garden.
When Murad IV conquered Revan Castle in 1635, the Iranian Emirgûne, Yusuf Han, surrendered and was brought to Istanbul; Murad IV made Yusuf Han his has nedim (privy counselor) and gave him Feridun Pasha Gardens along the Bosphorus. The name Emirgûne gradually became Mirgün; over time this word was transformed in public language into Emirgân—a word that reminds one of the flower of the redbud or erguvan. After Murad IV's death in 1640, Yusuf Han, notorious for his poor service to the sultan, was executed, and his name was removed from Emirgân Castle and its surroundings.
Following that, the garden was given in turn to Grand Vizier Kemankeş Kara Mustafa Pasha, the sheikh-al Islams, Mirza Mustafa Efendi, Mehmed Salim Efendi, Vassaf Efendi (in 1739), Esad Efendi, and Mehmed Şerif Efendi; in 1778, it was transferred to the state again. Abdulhamid I turned Emirgân Garden into a Bosphorus village, divided the land into plots, and distributed it to the public. He had a sizeable mosque, a square fountain, and public baths built there.
In his memoirs, Moltke described the Mehmed Hüsrev Paşa Mansion and the garden that he visited:
The room in which I came across the discharged troops was of an absolutely oriental style, and I have not seen such a unique beauty even in the sultan's palace. One side of this rather spacious room faced the Bosphorus, the dark blue waves of which were lapping a pleasant pier under the windows. The view across from this was of a completely open space, facing rose beds, orange saplings, and the pretty garden adorned with massive-trunked bay trees. The oleander was reflected in the marble basin filled with crystal-clear water and at the back a fountain was splashing; in the pond of this fountain redbud-colored fish were swimming. A wide silk canopy continued the ceiling, which was decorated with great arabesques and the magnificent rug echoed the patterns of the garden, being covered with artistic figures of the flower beds, seashells or colored pebble stones like a mosaic. It was hard to discern where the room ended and where the garden began, whether the fountain was babbling in the room, or perhaps you were sitting on a bench in the garden. A gentle breeze off the Bosphorus came through the cane lattice over the open windows and it wafted in the fragrant smell of the garden, lit up by the brilliant sun.
The Egyptian khedive İsmail Pasha was one of the people who worked on restoring Emirgân in the second half of the 19th century; he had an elegant mansion built to the north of Emirgân beach and had the woods in the territory arranged as a park; two junior high schools, one for girls and one for boys, and a small hospital were built. However, it was not possible for this hospital to go into service; the dilapidated building was torn down by the municipality in 1912/1913.
The description of Kalender Garden by İnciciyan and his contemporary Sarraf Hovannesyan gives an idea of the state it was in during the 18th century:
After Yeniköy, the coast leads to Kalender Garden, which is a pleasant valley surrounded by high hills. Kalender was the name of a dervish. Rumor has it that during the reign of Mustafa II, Moldovan Ali Agha, who later on rose to the rank of pasha and became grand vizier in 1769, had bostancıs stationed here as a safety precaution against bandits. In this way, he transformed this place into a resort. There is a holy spring called Vaftizci Yohanna and the ruins of three old churches near Kalender Garden on the coast.
Sultan Selim III had Kalender Pavilion built in 1794, and visited there often to enjoy the moonlight and musical festivities. Kalender maintained its reputation during the reign of Mahmud II. Sultan Abdulaziz had the pavilion rebuilt by masons and added another floor. The trees in this garden have maintained their beauty until today.
On the estuary of Büyükdere, on the outskirts of the village there, is a place that was known as Kırkağaç due to the large number of massive sycamores. Evliya Çelebi wrote that in this shady and pretty place, loved by both local and foreign members of the upper class, there were tall poplars, cypresses, willows, and other trees; the trees and leaves were so thick that no sunshine reached the ground.
I note here the imarets of Büyükdere town: this place is the resort, hunting ground and park for Selim I and Selim II. It was a shady and woody place in a gorge, where the sun does not even shine on an area the size of a threshing floor. God-given sycamores, cypresses, poplars, weeping willows, and other huge trees in this gorge all grow to the sky. It has been made into a promenade area with various green banks and rivers. Due to the existence of this resort, Büyükdere Town was established nearby. This town consists of around one thousand small houses. There is one Muslim neighborhood, seven fishing neighborhoods; sailors' and gardeners' houses are in non-Muslim neighborhoods. Koca Defterdar Mehmed Paşa Mosque is on the İskele Pier next to a few small shops and a bath. However, there are many vineyards and gardens.
İnciciyan wrote about Hünkar Waters on the Rumelian side of the Bosphorus strait; this was the last point in the valley for the sultan's imperial procession. He claimed that Kırkağaç, which was also known as Yedikardeşler after 16 pine trees that had combined roots, was located here. He noted that the land extending from there to Fener was the hunting ground of the sultan. Sultan Abdulhamid I had a carriage road built extending to the sultan's pavilion next to Kırkağaç in Büyükdere.
In 1829, Mahmud II held the Eid-ul Adha greeting ceremonies here; large tents were set up on the lawn, the ceremonial throne was brought, and the sultan accepted salutations in his murassa fez. The Iranian ambassador also attended this ceremony. In the same year, Mahmud I had a divan set up there, and it was from there that he received the British embassy.
Büyükdere was well liked by foreign ambassadors as well as by sultans. There were summer houses for the Russian and Flemish diplomatic delegations. Moltke stayed in Büyükdere in Istanbul. In his memoirs, he described this garden as follows:
Wide shady roofs, carnations and gillyflower pots lined the perimeter of the gallery. Depending on which way I look out of the many windows, I behold a panoramic sea view, a mountain landscape or the splendor of flowers, roses and oleanders in a narrow garden surrounded by walls. A small lawn is surrounded by flowerpots, and among them seashells are scattered in decorative forms on the paths. Fragrant jasmines are snuggled inside the window lattices; honeysuckle and clematis hug and cover the wall.
In late Ottoman period, Büyükdere Garden was transferred to Abraham Pasha for a time. The pasha had a white palace, some mansions, birdhouses, animal parks, and two big ponds built there. He had fruit trees imported and cultivated and turned the edges of the large ponds into a reed bed. A document dated 1564 regarding expenditures on and repairs to the gardens indicates that the Beasts' Sanctuary (a stable for wild horses) and watercourses in Büyükdere Garden were repaired. The reference to the Beasts' Sanctuary shows that there were wild animals in these gardens in earlier times.
In addition to these gardens, there was a small garden between İstinye and Emirgan, in the valley near Ayazağa; the mansion there was of an attractive design with pleasing decorations. An 1831 inscription on a nişantaşı1 (marker indicating the distance an arrow had been shot) establishes that this garden was completed during the reign of Mahmud II, although it was later renovated by Sultan Abdulaziz.
The most important item in the garden, which was surrounded by mighty trees, was the pond in the front. Reflecting the images of all the surrounding trees, the pond was 20 meters wide by 100 meters long. There were artificial rocks on the edge of the pond across from the mansion. Surviving documents show that a large number of saplings were imported from abroad for the gardens around Ayazaga Pavilion, including 5,000 sycamores, 3,000 white chestnuts, 2,000 red chestnuts, 1,500 lindens, 500 rose acacias, 500 locust trees, 1000 altuz, 2,000 oaks, 500 chestnuts, 500 red blooming prickly ipenzori, 1,000 araile, 500 bubriye, 500 crab apple trees, and 250 poplars.
In the resort and hunting grounds of the 170,000-square-meter Haznedar Farm, which were in use during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz, many structures known as Maslak pavilions—such as Kasr-ı Hümayun, Kasr-ı Mabeyn, and Çadır Pavilions—and greenhouses were built. The formal garden had a number of flower beds, including rose beds. There were greenhouses as well as orchards and vegetable gardens in this vast space. There were structures that demonstrated a European influence, such as grottos, as well as places that were formed without disturbing the natural state of the terrain. Also, Khedive İsmail Pasha had two mansions on the hillsides of Emirgan, to the south of the public woods that extended to Boyacıköy and on the northern side of Emirgan. Tulip festivals have been held there since the area was transferred to the Istanbul municipality. The current garden does not accurately reflect the terrain of the earlier one, but it still produces beautiful flowers.
During the Byzantine era, summer palaces were built in the beautiful suburb of Fener, which was used as a place of recreation. One of these was Hieron, where Justinian had a summer palace built for Empress Theodora, with a small church and baths. After the conquest, this area continued to be used for the same purpose when it became one of the private estates of Mehmed II.
In the 16th century, this garden was redesigned by Mimar Sinan. The Byzantine lighthouse at the end of the garden was refurbished at the request of Suleyman the Magnificent in 1562. As can be seen from documents related to the ferman about renovating the curtains, this mansion was completed by 973 (1565/1566).
Stephan Gerlach, who was the chaplain for the Austrian embassy and a member of the retinue of the ambassador to Emperor Maximilien II, David Ungnad, from 1573 to 1578, described this place in 1576: “Behind the wall was an imperial palace with a gilded ceiling and a marble fountain, surrounded by another exterior wall which enclosed the imperial garden.”
Visiting here in the 17th century, the French traveler Grelot gave a comprehensive description of the garden, including its state during the reign of Suleyman I:
At the end of a split of land ten miles wide which extends into the sea at Kadıköy there is a large lighthouse. In the same area, a beautiful imperial mansion known as Fener Köşkü is located. Like almost all other mansions, this is a square building surrounded by covered galleries with many columns. It stands in a beautiful, well-laid out garden where there are orderly paths and well-tended flower beds. However, the other imperial gardens are only a disorderly mixture of trees. ... Suleyman II had a pavilion built in the delightful place where he and his wives occasionally came to enjoy themselves. In the middle of the large hall, the sultan had a large divan made, which was covered with cushions and costly rugs, in Arab style, surrounded by a marble railing. This square was placed in the middle of a large pool full of small fountains made in the same style.
Fener Garden is also mentioned in a document dated 988 (1580), which contains the accounts forrepairmen, building projects in the gardens, and the registries of supplies purchased for the has bahçe and other gardens.
Eremya Çelebi described the 17th-century Fener Garden as follows:
The area spanning from Kadıköy to Fenerli Garden is covered with vineyards pleasing to the eye. Here in front of the mansion, a lighthouse shines upon the top of the tower rising like a massive statue on a solid base from the sea. The garden and the mansion are referred to by the name of this lighthouse, which is visible from the distance of a 12-hour walk. The lighthouse shines like a star until morning every night to prevent ships from colliding with the rocks. Across from it the sultan's garden [is] full of sycamores and cypresses and there is a beautiful mansion sitting on the edge of the sea, visible from near and far.
Visiting Istanbul between 1710 and 1711 and making drawings of many places and structures, Cornelius Loos drew two pictures of Fener Garden. The interior of the mansion is seen with a garden that is protected by fences and contains thickly planted trees including two lines of cypresses. The building is half open, covered with a sundurma (loggia) with columns. In a canopied yard surrounded by a high wall, a fountain pond is set into the ground, and a faint rectangular decoration, like a flower bed or perhaps a rug, can be seen. The garden appears to be formal.
Loos's other work provided a more general view of Fener Garden. In the foreground is the coast, where a small boat is moored. From the bottom level of the coastline, the wall surrounding Fener Garden rises. There is a deniz kapısı (opening to the sea) on the side of the wall next to the boat, and in the center of the drawing are various mansions surrounded by trees. The mansion on the left is surrounded by a wooden fence and stands above the others. In the top left-hand corner behind the wall, a hilly landscape spreads out; behind this, the countryside and the sea can be seen.
Fener Garden is described by İnciciyan as follows:
After Kalamış is Fener Garden; in front of it rises a tower that is lit at night. There is an imperial mansion inside Fener Garden adorned with sycamores and cypresses, which extends like an arm into the sea. The sultan would board his boats here when he so desired. Since this pretty place, under the supervision of a master gardener and the bostancıs under his supervision, had views to the west, north, and south, the ships travelling from the Mediterranean, Istanbul and İzmit were always clearly visible.
A chaplain of the British embassy who recorded his memories from the end of the 18th century, Dallaway, found the garden in a state of ruin.
By the 19th century, Fener Garden had become a public picnic place; Leyla Saz recounted her childhood memories of it:
At that time there were a lot of cypress and gum trees here. If I am not mistaken, this peninsula was wider then, and there was a lot of space away from the trees and the ground was higher. At the back there were the ruins of an imperial pavilion; only the hamam was still standing. We swam in a secluded corner and played in the sea for a while. We ate our lunch under the shade of one of the large gum trees opposite the sea. We all enjoyed ourselves however we liked. We sat and looked at the sea until the carriage came for us. For a week, while we were staying at Şerif Pasha's Mansion, they would bring us here every day. Every day the same harmony and entertainment was maintained. I prefer Fener out of all the pleasant places of our Istanbul. The reason I love this place is maybe because I have so many childhood memories [that] were made here. On the way back, many would go to Merdivenköy for its famous yoghurt.
In 1909, Fener Garden was taken over by the Treasury and after years of neglect and decay was renovated and opened to the public as a park.
The tower and garden from which this garden gets its name were described by Fresne-Canaye, who came to Istanbul in 1573:
Finally we gave a few coins to acemioğlans and garden workers who opened the palace for us. Signor Stanga took us to a paradise of a different kind called Kuleli Garden.… This was no less beautiful than the other. There were long paths with mighty trees, cypresses, flowers, fountains, and pleasant grottoes and shady places. These were almost all on the side of a hill, not very steep but more of a slope. There were five chambers built one on top of the other, descending towards the shore, all made of rough stone with thick walls. These were built with such skill that the water supply rose to the very top and each chamber had its own fountain. Each of the beautiful terraces with painted and gilded walls on each side was cool at all hours of the day. All the handles of the doors and gates were made of bronze. At the foot of the tower was a beautiful garden. This was separate from the main garden and had a pool containing rare fish. When we look at the architecture of the tower, one can see that when it comes to spending money on palaces, Turks are no less skillful than Christians at this. This was the tallest building I had seen in Turkey; it had five stories, which made it more unusual in a country in which people prefer to sit on the floor and do not like to climb stairs. As they will have to abandon everything when they die, they say their houses should not be so comfortable and beautiful that they would grieve on leaving them.
Among the documents concerning the building of a new tower between 1528 and 1533 is one which shows that this tower was built during the reign of Suleyman I: “Kule-i Cedid is to be built near the Mustafa Paşa Garden near Karye-i Çengar (Çengelköy).” Suleyman I's interest in Kuleli is known to have continued, and he had several structures built there. A few of the documents extant today prove that Suleyman the Magnificent had regular maintenance carried out in his gardens.
In the 17th century, Eremya Çelebi praised Kuleli Garden in the following words: “Ahead was Kulebahçesi where there was also a large imperial mansion. After entering these grounds, one never wants to leave.”
Evliya Çelebi agreed and went on to tell this interesting story:
Towards the south of this place was an area known as Papas Korusu, which this sovereign having the ability to make the right choices presented to Revani Efendi, showing great delicacy. It bordered on Kule Garden, that is, Selim I's private garden. One day, in a fit of rage, Selim ordered his bostancıbaşı to put Prince Süleyman to death. Obediently, the bostancıbaşı took the prince, but had another youth put to death in place of Süleyman. Hoping that this would be for the later good of the state, he gave Süleyman a change of clothes and sent him to Kuleli Garden. Three years later after Selim I returned from Egypt, he began to fear death and cried out in despair "Oh, bostancıbaşı, I have made a great mistake. If I die childless, into whose hands will the Ottoman Empire fall?” The bostancıbaşı then had Prince Suleyman brought from Kuleli Garden to kiss the ground and smear the dust from the sultan's feet over his face. After drawing Suleyman to his breast, Selim I promised his son that he would be the next sultan. When he became sultan, Suleyman gave great honors to the bostancıbaşı in Egypt. Suleyman I had a palace with a nine-story tower rising to the sky like a fortress built at Kuleli Garden, where he had been hidden and had grown up. It was a paradise. On every floor, there were fountains, pools and innumerable rooms. Because of this tower, the place became known as Kule Garden. In the garden was a cypress tree planted by Süleyman himself. Whoever saw it admired God's handiwork, as it was so green and straight, with not a branch out of line. Of the many kinds of fruit in this garden, the figs were especially delicious.
Eremya Çelebi mentioned this place in the following words: “Down there is Papaz Garden, which was granted to the notorious Vani and turned into a small Turkish village with a small masjid.” İnciciyan provided similar information. Eremya went on:
The famous grand vizier of Sultan Ahmed III, İbrahim Pasha, had the stones of this mansion transferred for the construction of a mansion in Kağıthane in 1721. The watercourse of the palace flows until Ayi Atanas Holy Spring. On the coast next to Kuleli is a private place for bears and a shelter for the sultan's dogs.
According to Evliya Çelebi, a pavilion was built by Murad III in this garden of Suleyman I. According to some sources, Murad III had Kandilli Garden designed as a terraced garden from Akıntıburnu all the way up a steep and rocky hill at the back. This garden was tended by a head gardener and 100 assistants. Tulips and hyacinths were planted in the terraces, and Murad III often came to enjoy them. An account from 1580 (988) records Kandilli as one of the gardens for which equipment was purchased and for which repairs were carried out and new structures were built. Two fermans dated 1584 mention the renovations carried out by Murad II. In the Şehinşahname, Seyyid Lokman wrote that the garden resembles a paradise with pools, cooling fountains, fruit trees, and beds of roses, hyacinths, and jasmine.
In one of the miniatures in the Şehinşehnâme, which was prepared between 1592 and 1593 and narrates the momentous occasions of Murad III's reign, the sultan is portrayed in Kandilli Garden as he is being informed by a messenger about the conquest of Revan. In the composition, Kandilli Cape is depicted. In the foreground Murad III is in a small mansion, and behind him are silahdar doğancı and pygmies. On the ground are a bundle and a sword. At the bottom, the messenger in his red shalwar is portrayed, with two içoğlans behind him who are about to dress him in robes upon the order of the sultan once he has delivered the news. There are cypresses inside and outside the high walls.
Eremya Çelebi spoke briefly of this garden: “Ahead is Kandilli. The sultan's garden here is a sight worth beholding.” İnciciyan gave further information:
Kandilli Cape ... on a terrace is the place formerly occupied by an imperial palace; on the hill is a spectacular view from the top. From here the Sea of Marmara, the Sarıyer Mountains, and a large part of the snaky winding of the Bosphorus come into sight as well as the picturesque Göksu Meadow and Valley. Rumor has it that one of the sultan's wives fell into the sea and drowned here.
Although he provided little specific information, Carbognano, who was in Istanbul in the 18th century, mentioned a fine mansion in Kandilli.
Following the destruction of Kağıthane during the Patrona Halil rebellion, Mahmud I often went to the Bosphorus. He was especially fond of Küçüksu and Kandilli, and enjoyed relaxing there. However, later on, Kandilli Palace was neglected and fell into decay. It was pulled down by Abdulhamid I, and the grounds were divided up and sold.
In 1857, during the reign of Abdulmecid, a seaside house was built where the sea forms a bay from Kandilli Cape to Vaniköy; in addition, a large wooden palace was built for Adile Sultan on the heights above the old Kandilli Palace. The palace was used as a girls' school; in recent years it burned down, was rebuilt, and went back into service.
Göksu and Küçüksu Garden and Promenade
Göksu and Küçüksu meadows were fed by streams of the same names, which flowed from Alem Dağı into the sea next to Anadoluhisarı. These places were resorts like Kağıthane, where people went boating and enjoyed the countryside.
Behind Göksu were splendid rose gardens and fine mansions, which were renovated by Murad IV. Water mills provided water for the local people and city. Evliya Çelebi wrote that both sides of Göksu River were covered with gardens known as the Halıcızade Gardens; he described them as follows: “They frequently enjoyedlovely weather, and were designed with thousands of maksures, kitchens and rooms covering 40,000 vineyards. The artfully decorated mansions were adorned with thousands of fountains and ponds with statues.” He went on: “In former times pitchers and other utensils were made from the red clay in Göksu, where people used to row about in boats and picnic on the grass.” Clay pots are still made here.
There used to be a master gardener's house and some wooden buildings at the site of Göksu Pavilion. Because Mahmud I liked this place, Grand Vizier Divitdar Emin Mehmed Pasha had a pavilion constructed in 1752 on the coast here; bringing water from the hill, he also built a pond and a fountain.
İnciciyan's description appears to repeat the information provided by Evliya Çelebi:
Beyond Anadoluhisarı comes Büyük Göksu. It is similar to the Kağıthane River but smaller, and bigger than Küçük Göksu. Around Göksu there are springs and fertile gardens where eggplants, famous for their length and taste, are grown and sent to the city. On a plain near the river are many potters' workshops where large pots are made, and there is an imperial watermill to grind flour for the palace. Küçüksu is nearby. Neither of these places is residential. Falling into a decrepit state during the reign of Sultan Mahmud I, a lavish imperial mansion was built here in 1750 by Grand Vizier Divitdar Emin Mehmed Pasha. There is a fine grove of cypresses stretching from here to Kandilli. Göksu was given the name Silver Cypress by Murad IV, who liked the place. This was the place the sultan used for the third state procession on the Anatolian side of the Bosphorus.
In Küçüksu, next to the fountain that Selim III had built in memory of his mother in 1806, Küçüksu Pavilion was constructed in 1857 by Abdulmecid.
Describing life in Istanbul in her memoirs, Dorina L. Neave, who lived in the British embassy in Istanbul between 1881 and 1907, wrote extensively about Göksu festivities: “According to Turkish traditions, among the few mystical summer excursions found acceptable for Harem women was Friday's boat sorties at Göksu.”
Leyla Saz also described visits to these resorts vividly in her memoirs. Miss Pardoe described Göksu as well:
It extends into the sea across Rumeli Hisarı. As Göksu River is in this valley, it was named after it. This brook, shaded by the branches of trees, babbles into the waters of the Bosphorus that glisten under the sun. Here fine and unlikely views are enjoyed: After meandering in the hilly terrain of the imperial palace whose light painting gives a relief, and in the imperial garden full of dappled leaves, one comes down to the shade where the brook bubbles. Here, the trees surrounding the brook leave a dark reflection on the water and provide silence. This is a grassy terrain covering a wide area. Here the women unfold their prayer rugs, stroll with carriages, and enjoy the long summer days. A dense wood over a small field is between this grassy terrain and Göksu River. The area behind this wood is reserved for men.
This beloved resort and the entertainments that took place in it were described by many European artists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
One of the Bosphorus gardens that Evliya Çelebi reported as having been built by Suleyman the Magnificent is Çubuklu Garden. In his praise of the garden, Çelebi also explained how it was named: Bayezid-i Veli, who had summoned Prince Selim to come there from Trabzon, became angry with him and struck him eight times with a stick, representing the eight years of his sultanate.
“My son,” he said, “Do not suffer. Praise God and after your upbringing the sultanate is yours. Take this stick that you were beaten with and plant it so that you may eat of its fruit for eight years.” Selim took the dry cornel-cherry stick and planted it, praying, “Oh God, give fruit from this dry stick and let it be famous throughout the world.” “Amen,” replied Bayezid-i Veli and Şemseddin, and from that very hour the stick began to put forth green branches and green leaves. Each fruit it produced weighed five dirhems. Whether this miracle should be ascribed to Bayezid, Selim, or Şemseddin, who knows? But because of this the place is known as Çubuklu Garden. There are no cornel-cherries in the world like these. Each weighs five dirhems and its crimson color is like that of a Medina date. Later Selim Han was sultan for eight years, corresponding to the eight painful blows. In 922 he conquered Egypt and became the Caliph; after this he made improvements in Çubuklu Garden.
While taking his readers on a tour of the Bosphorus, Eremya Çelebi said Çubuklu was an imperial garden, and that vegetable gardens and gardeners were to be found here. Notes added by the translator mentioned that the cornel cherry trees and their fruit were famous and that there was a palace at Çubuklu Garden the sultan used when he went there to hunt.
The accounting books for garden repairs provide further information about Çubuklu Garden. For 1564, work done to the privy mansion, courtyard, warehouse, boathouse, and toolshed are mentioned. In the privy book dated 1576, it is registered that in Çubuklu Garden, Filibeli Ali Usta was the master gardener and he had 38 gardeners working with him. A document dated 1580, listing Çubuklu Garden as one of the gardens that underwent maintenance, portrays the state of the garden during the reign of Murad III.
Famous for its springtime beauty and nightingales, Çubuklu was renovated at the beginning of the 18th century, during the reign of Ahmed III. Grand Vizier Nevşehirli İbrahim Pasha had a large pond with a beautiful fountain built and had sycamores and other trees planted by the river.
İnciciyan gave a detailed description of Çubuklu, as he did for other gardens:
This imperial garden stretches along the shore. Three large buildings among the shrubs and trees can be seen. On the flat area by the sea is the imperial palace, and in front of the garden is a small wood; this is the hunting ground of the sultan. Formerly, this place was occupied by the monastery of the Uykusuz monks. Further on comes Büyük Çubuklu with its marvelous fountain. Neither of the two places known as Çubuklu is inhabited. İlariye Hill is nearby Büyükçubuklu, which was the fourth place in the sultan's imperial procession.
During the reign of Sultan Abdulmecid, Grand Vizier Rıfat Pasha had the wood behind Feyzabad Pavilion arranged with artificial lakes with cascades, pools, and statues in the European style; he also built five seaside mansions for his offspring. In addition, in order to enliven the region, which was famous for its nightingales, he gave free parcels of land to people to establish a village.
Tokad Garden and Beykoz Pavilion
Evliya Çelebi attributed the making of Tokad Garden to the conquest of Tokad Castle in 1453, and therefore to Mehmed II. Apparently, Mehmed II was hunting in the forest inland from Beykoz Pier when he heard the news that Mahmud Pasha had taken Tokad Castle. He was so pleased that he said, “Make me a garden here and call it Tokad Garden; build a hunting lodge and surround it with fences like those of Tokad to protect it from wild animals.” This lodge was all on one floor with an impressive pool and fountain. Evliya Çelebi described the spray of water to be as wide as a human neck, sending water high into the air, from where it fell into the pool. As it ascended it would strike the gilded roof of the dome on the large mansion. He wrote that there was a master gardener with a hundred gardeners under his charge, a hamam and various rooms. Evliya Çelebi added that the terrain was mountainous and wooded, and that the sultans often held hunts there, watching all the animals after driving them into a corner. He also recorded that Murad IV liked this pleasant place, enjoyed himself, strolled around, and practiced cirit on the grass.
Evliya Çelebi reported that Suleyman the Magnificent also enjoyed this favorite hunting ground of the sultans. Celalzade Mustafa, one of the prominent figures during this sultan's reign, described a visit by Suleyman the Magnificent to Beykoz Highlands in 1523 with his grand vizier after their trip to Yalakova and Eznika for hunting, and said that tulips grew there even in the fall and that the grass was green.
The accounting books provide valuable information about this garden. For 1564 there are accounts for repairs and purchases for the imperial gardens. Those relating to construction and repairs at Beykoz Garden list a new hamam and watercourses, repairs to the gardeners' hamam and the water mill, repairs to the gardeners' and pages' quarters, and work being carried out on the nearby Tokad Palace. Beykoz Garden and Tokad Garden are also mentioned in accounts for equipment supplied and repair work done in 1580.
Antoine Galland also described going to Beykoz Hünkar Pier with the French ambassador, for whom he worked in 1673:
It is a pleasant place on a fairly narrow meadow which invites one to relax. The shade of oak, plane, cypress, beech, linden, elm, ash, and many other trees are in view. A stream of water as thick as one's arm could be seen flowing from a fountain near a beautiful meadow, and there was a linden tree with a magnificent, large trunk.
After mentioning that the ambassador had been invited in the evening by the head gardener to rest at the palace called Beykoz near Tokad, three-quarters of an hour from Hünkar Pier, Galland provided some information about this place. He said:
One reaches this garden, along a level valley with hills on either side. Its heights are covered with trees, but it is not very steep and [it is] pleasing to the eyes. The palace is at the end of the valley and is always shaded by the trees that surround it. Among many rare trees here, one of the rarest is a chestnut tree from India. From the trunk, which can scarcely be encompassed by three men linking arms, spring four large branches that in turn give forth to branches at such a great height that it is impossible to see the top of them. Although owned by the sultan, the building is neither beautiful nor impressive. There is a small room, which was closed during our visit, and adjacent to this small room was a large hall; the sides of this hall were open and this is called a köşk (pavilion) by the Turks. In the middle of the room was a pool with a fountain and sixteen taps from which flowed streams of water as thick as one's finger.
Galland came here again the next day with the ambassador and described the possibilities for hunting:
When we got to Tokad we thought it even more beautiful than the previous day and were struck with amazement at the number and size of the trees. Meanwhile a number of men were discussing the possibilities for hunting in the area and were spying out the land. The gardeners said there were a number of wild boars which did great damage to the gardens. The steward showed His Excellency the palace which, like all the others, had not been used for so long that many of the mattresses and cushions were ragged and torn.
In 1833, a monument commemorating the pact signed with Russia against Egypt was erected in Selvi Point near Beykoz Hünkar Pier. Later, when the governor of Egypt renewed diplomatic relations and wished to eliminate the memory of this column by erecting a larger monument, he obtained permission to build Beykoz Pavilion for the sultan. The wooded park that stretches from the palace down to the sea was laid out with great care. However, nothing from former times remains of these buildings.
Evliya Çelebi said that Bayezid II built Bahçe-i Sultaniye, a village with 800 houses and gardens, a mosque and a hamam, at a little distance from Beykoz on the seashore. The garden, which was cared for by a master gardener and 70 gardeners, was adorned by very high cypress trees. Evliya Çelebi mentioned that at the time of Sultan Bayezid this was an elegantly decorated structure.
According to many other sources, the structure was built by Suleyman the Magnificent. Gülru Necipoğlu stated that the lacquered wooden window shutters on which battle scenes were depicted were souvenirs from the Victory of Çaldıran in 1514, brought back from Tabriz; this is in agreement with what was afterward written in the memoirs of many other travelers. It is thought that they were placed in this palace the year after the death of Sultan Selim II, when Suleyman the Magnificent had the garden completely renewed. Necipoğlu gave the accounting books for 1528 and 1529 as evidence that Sultaniye Garden had been renovated at that time. A small mosque and a masjid are also mentioned in a record of repair expenses from 1564 and 1565—that is, from the reign of Suleyman I.
It was here that Suleyman I received the Safavid ambassador and Venetian diplomats. The reason for receiving the Safavid ambassador here was so that he could see the window shutters, taken as spoils of war—a subtle reminder of the Ottomans' victory over his country.
Fresne-Canaye and his friends, while walking on the Anatolian side in 1573, visited the imperial gardens in Sultaniye by the sea near Beykoz. The author described Sultaniye Pavilion and its garden, located on the side of a wooded hill, as follows:
We disembarked. It was a nice small place, rising in the middle of the sea. We were entranced by its similarity to Venice and its charm. After strolling around for some time, we picked blue, yellow and red flowers. They were so beautiful that we were pleased to offer these flowers to someone who felt happy to receive such a nice present from a gentle and loyal lover. The Turks treated flowers as holy relics and often held one in their hand or their turban. Moreover, whenever the sultan found a favorable tree, he would plant flowers around it of various species and scents. There is such a variety in these gardens that one only needs to extend a hand to gather a bouquet of flowers in all hues. The sultan walked alone on the narrow paths lined with awe-inspiring, mighty cypresses. Behind this, there were mountains and hills full of all kinds of game animals, particularly boars, which the sultan frequently hunted. Afterwards, the sultan returns to his garden and relaxes in either his bath or his pavilion. The interior of this pavilion, which was built on high columns towards the sea, is covered with extremely valuable ceramic tiles, while the exterior is covered with precious marble. Windows and shutters brought from Tabriz by Suleyman I are bedecked with figures painted in the Persian style. There is nothing here except marble columns and again a portico with very beautiful columns. Finally, to complete the visit, we gave a few aspers to the içoğlan in the garden and the person who opened the mansion for us.
Evliya Çelebi wrote that on his return from the victorious expedition to Iran, Özdemiroğlu Osman Pasha had a palatial pavilion built in the Sultaniye Garden on the seashore for the sultan.
Eremya Çelebi reported that the sultans hunted there and that Suleyman I was very fond of this place. İnciciyan described this garden, which he called Burun Garden, in these words:
Sultaniye comes after Beykoz. By the sea there is an extensive wooded area of level ground. The bay is wide, but was once shallow and marshy with a small islet. Suleyman I had this spot filled in to create a level area. It faces to the northeast. There is a beautiful fountain and pool there and vegetable gardens in the vicinity. Here, on this level ground, Suleyman I had a pavilion and a beautiful garden made. From a tree opposite all this a perfumed oil emanates; this is smeared on the hands and face. Here on the hill is a small pool made in earlier times from which water better than any medicine gushes out.
In his memoirs written in 1673, that is 100 years after those of Fresne-Canaye, Galland related how he went with the French ambassador to a place called İncirliköy on the Asian side of the Bosphorus:
Here, as a result of a strange whim of Emperor Suleyman, a beautiful pavilion had been built in the sea on columns placed three by three, one on top of the other, with a space in the center. The pavilion was covered within and without with beautiful tiles, some of which were missing, as the building was old. The walls are covered with marbles and pieces of porphyry. The shutters of the windows are interspersed with small çehreler,which must have pleased the eye when new. We were also shown the silk linen used by the emperor when he sleeps. A small vestibule adorned with columns of marble, granite and porphyry gave a pleasing air to the pavilion. A gardener, who was the warden of the pavilion, showed His Excellence a tree that diffused its sweet scent all over the garden. Although its bark resembled that of the oak, its leaves were triangular.
Among the pictures painted by Cornelius Loos between 1710 and 1711, there is one of Sultaniye Garden. It is a general view of the pavilion in a garden sloping down toward the sea, with an inset showing just the pavilion. The general view shows the relation of the garden and mansion to the surrounding terrain. Both pictures show that the pavilion was positioned to take advantage of the best local views.