The four palaces built at the beginning of the nineteenth century are the most important structural accomplishments of the late Ottoman period in Istanbul. These four palaces are: 1) Dolmabahçe Palace: the construction of this palace began on June 13, 1843, during the reign ofSultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861) and was opened for use by June 7, 1856. This palace was the residence of six sultans between 1856-1924. 2); Beylerbeyi Palace: the construction began on August 6, 1863, and the palace was opened for use on April 21, 1863. It served as a summer residence and a summer palace for the sultans, and was used as a guesthouse during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876) 3). Çırağan Palace: This palace was completed by 1871 upon the orders of Sultan Abdülaziz. 4) Yıldız Palace: This complex began to be referred to as a palace when additional structures were added to it during the reign of Abdülhamid II (1876-1909).
This paper will focus on two of these four palaces, Dolmabahçe Palace and Yıldız Palace, which both functioned as imperial residences.
Without a doubt, Dolmabahçe Palace is the most spectacular structure built in Istanbul in the nineteenth century. The palace, which is of cultural importance in Istanbul’s architectural history, is in fact a complex of structures. The palace is the most significant landscaping and architectural project of the late nineteenth century.
The decision to move from Topkapı Palace, which was the organizational and political center of the Ottoman State and the residence of the sultan, to Dolmabahçe Palace was a radical one; from the Byzantine era, the center of residence and governance was located at the east end of the Historical Peninsula, and this move altered a 2,000-year-old urban tradition.
The diversity of urban regions, based on the unique geography of Istanbul helped in making this transition. Constantinople was initially a planned Roman city and functioned as the center of the government; the Galata Peninsula was near the harbor and was primarily set aside for merchants and sailors. The model of these two regions which helped to differentiate the residential order and social structure on the Historical Peninsula and Galata over time played an urbanizing role that opened the city to the world, starting with the Italian commercial colony.
Choosing the European side for the construction of the new palace was likely influenced by the “trend to follow European countries.” This decision was in line with a growing tendency in the 18th century to introduce reforms that would help the Ottomans catch up with the West; this reform policy was formalized during the Tanzimat era.
However, the idea that the Tanzimat was to pave the way for a new state model ultimately proved untrue. Completely renovating Topkapı Palace to be in keeping with a new state model and protocol seemed impossible, and thus a new palace had to be built. The difficulties of undergoing such a major building project on the Historical Peninsula without causing extensive damage and requiring a significant amount of buildings to be torn down was incomprehensible, as it would be even today.
The location of Dolmabahçe Palace meets the prerequisites for a palace in various ways. Indeed, there was a wooden sahilsaray (seaside palace) Beşiktaş Sahilsarayı, which had been standing for a long time and had been used frequently in recent years. The decision to continue using the same location must be evaluated in terms of 1) giving a message of opening towards the West by making a move to the Galata Peninsula, which was the main center of foreign affairs and foreign trade in the urban plan; 2) In contrast to this, selecting a new location and position that was outside the Galata Peninsula, the region of commerce and embassies; 3) the value of the land due to the fact that it was located at opening point of the Bosphorus; 4) the fact that this location was one that had been used in the past by members of the dynasty and had historical affiliations.
The construction of Dolmabahçe Palace must be understood in its larger context, that is, in prompting the start of urban expansion in Istanbul. Dolmabahçe Palace, the focus of this imperial idea, must reflect the inclination of the sultans who wanted to bring the appearance of a European capital to the city.
LocationThe palace, which is not only a magnificent monument, but which is also a grand complex consisting of many buildings, is the result of the most important environmental reorganizations and construction activity in the nineteenth century. It is possible to sense that a partnership between a style that reflected the aesthetics and trends of the era and a narrative was searched for in creating an integrity between the topography and the visual in the imperial surroundings. The palace was built on both sides of the throughway that provided access between Galata and Beşiktaş, and which later was to be known as Meclis-i Mebusan Avenue.
The BuildingsIn order to build the Dolmabahçe Palace, the old Beşiktaş Palace had to be torn down; the project was initially designed by the Ebniye-i Şâhâne (imperial buildings) architects, Evanis, Nigoğos and Garabet Amira Balyan. Construction of the palace began on June 13, 1843. The foundations for the palace were officially laid in November; the construction of the Mabeyn-i Hümayun was followed by the Muayede Salon and Harem-i Hümayun. After the construction was completed in 1847, the decoration and furnishings were completed in 1856; the new palace was put into service in the same year, on June 6, 1856.
The palace complex is positioned among gardens, which today can be accessed through the monumental gates; the complexes form an L-shaped form, with the longest façade of the main building facing the sea; in addition there is a separate small palace, the Veliaht Dairesi (apartments of the crown prince), as well as other small pavilions, such as the Mefruşat ve Muhafızlar Dairesi, (office of furnishings and guards), Hareket pavilions, and Camlı pavilion. All of the structures are in good condition and are under the administration of the TBMM Offices of the National Palaces.
Dolmabahçe Palace stands surrounded by high walls on a field measuring approximately 250,000 m2. While the original buildings, such as the Muayede Hall, the Hususi (Private) Apartments and the Veliaht Palace, sit along the sea, the rest of the buildings are along the perimeter of the closed courtyard.
The GatesThe Dolmabahçe Palace has two main gates on the land side, with 12 additional secondary gates; there are five gates that overlook the Bosphorus. The entrances to the Veliaht Apartments are separate.
The main gate, the Hazine (treasury) Gate, which carries both an inscription and the tuğra (imperial seal), is on the main axis that runs parallel to the sea, at the entrance to the palace in front of the mosque. The meticulously decorated monumental entrance is in the middle of the entrance façade, which is curved in forma and decorated in the baroque style.
The second monumental gate from the land is the Merasim (Saltanat) (ceremonial/sultanate) Gate, located on Meclis-i Mebusan Avenue; this was to be used only by the sultan. Compared to the Hazine Gate, this entrance is more meticulously decorated and significantly larger. The gate is remarkable as it is positioned within two concave walls, one inner and one outer; this design helps create a unique baroque perspective. The edges of the concave walls, which end in small towers, add to the design. While the decorative design of the gate resembles the Hazine Gate, the baroque effect enriches the design.
The gates by the sea are also positioned inside similar oval alcoves that carry a baroque design. The main gate, which is opposite the Muayede Hall and which is on the axis that opens onto the Bosphorus, is of a greater size than the other four entrances that are along this axial position, and is more ornamented.
The Body and Sides of the Main Building
The main part of the palace stands along the shore and consists of three sections: 1) Resmî Daire (Mabeyn-i Hümayun –official apartments); 2) Muayede Hall; 3) Hususi Apartments (Harem-i Hümayun- private apartments).
The linear organization of these structures, placed one after another, is one of the unique design elements of Dolmabahçe Palace and creates an appearance that does not reference European palaces, but rather the tradition of Istanbul sahilsaray palaces.
The monumental mass of the Muayede Hall is positioned between the Resmî and Hususi apartments, which have been located symmetrically on both sides of the main part of the palace. The symmetrical design is often considered to be classically inspired, and is unique in that it was designed to stand by the sea.
The model chosen for the Resmî and Hususi apartments is a European outer shell, with an original venue and function room created according to the traditional functional arrangement on the inside. Garabet’s success lies in the fact that he was able to bring these two styles together.
The main part and the sides of the Resmî and Hususi apartments of Dolmabahçe Palace are also unique in design. While the prismatic body of the main form is rectangular, the parlors located on the corners are emphasized and brought to the fore; this staged positioning in the façade creates a measured movement and undulation in the symmetric axis. Thus, the long seaside façade of the building is transformed into one large entity consisting of smaller-sized sections that are in keeping with the Istanbul/Bosphorus tradition. The diversity in the shape of the windows (round-headed windows or sash-windows, and flat-arc windows on the ground floor, etc.), reinforce the creation of different sections.
In contrast to this, the garland motifs that have been carved on these buildings, the rows of cornices and the baroque lines made of stylized curved stems on the eaves, and the railings on this work their way around the building, bringing together the different surfaces.
There is a patio on both the southern and eastern side; these structures have high columns that hold up a classical triangular pediment. In the middle of the pediment, embossed with baroque decorations, is the tuğra of Sultan Abdülmecid inside a medallion on a blue background.
It can be seen that the ornaments which were generally limited to the facades were seen to be sufficient, and that panels decorated with baroque decorations were also made.
Contrary to the fact that Muayede Hall included only a single venue inside, while the two-story Resmî and Hususi apartment buildings contained twice the space. The cornice of the Muayede Hall was placed on the level of the eaves, thus not only indicating the quality of the design, but producing a visual connection and continuity.
In addition to the horizontal plane created by the cornice, the main effect on the Muayede Hall façade is a vertical line. All the plaster (decorative elements that are attached to the walls but give the appearance of columns) and actual columns are repeated on the two stories (colossal contrivance) and brings a strong vertical emphasis and monumentality to the façade.
There are more columns on the two sides of the semi-circle arc windows on the ground floor. The windows on the upper level have two openings and decorative columns under the baroque pediments. The majestic stairs spread out in three directions, completing the neo-baroque style by creating a monumental opening to the Muayede Hall.
The Interior and the Construction Plan
Resmî ApartmentsTheResmî Apartments are located on a high foundation and consist of two levels. Wide marble stairs lead to a landing, creating the entrance to the palace.
The Resmî Apartments have been created out of three planned units, with a large stairway in the middle unit. Schematically, the plan is one of “a combination of center hall + corner rooms (reception rooms)”. The middle hall renews the Istanbul house-plan, or rather, interprets these units and combinations, creating a scheme that is open and legible. However, the size of the dimensions, the wealth of decorations and the secondary elements of the location each of which have an original social and symbolic character, have a dimension and meaning that exceeds this type of schematization.
The first central hall, located by the entrance, is the Medhal Hall. The hall consists of a large rectangular central part, with four attached sections, in each of the main directions. The double columns that are placed on each section determines the relationship with the central location. That is, those that look on the sea and the rear garden, built on a narrow rectangle are narrow and deep; those that are on the long side of the rectangle are wider and less deep. However, the columns that are at the end of this structure have been drawn to the side, thus emphasizing the visual flow on the main axis which runs parallel to the sea. Thus, a visual emphasis that is parallel with the Bosphorus has been brought to the structure that has been placed perpendicular to the sea, creating a tension between the dimensions and perception. In fact, in many dimensions Dolmabahçe Palace contains this type of neo-baroque locational tension. The arches that open onto the main stairs and the high glass doors add to the baroque tension that can be felt to continue past the limits determined by the location
In addition to the ornaments and architectural components that can also be found in the Medhal Hall, there are also cast-iron baroque banisters and decorations at the entrance.
The design of the upper-level of the Resmî Apartments is similar to that of the entrance.
The first unit of the plan consists of the central hall, known as the Süfera (embassies) Hall, and the corner groups. The Süfera Hall is one of the most spectacular sections of Dolmabahçe Palace. It opens on two axes and expands out via landings that are perpendicular to each other (i.e., parallel with the sea, and perpendicular to the sea). The ceiling (a coffer or lacunar ceiling) is ornamented with roses, medallions and baroque branches set within square cassettes. The frames are made of acanthus, meandre (a kind of ornament in the form of a tape, with a recurring pattern at a perpendicular angle), and a twisting egg-and-dart/tongue pattern, gilded with gold.
Even though it appears that side naves have been pushed back by the gilded decorations, the increase in number and size of the naves indicate their traditional schematic potential.
The luxurious rooms which are connected with the Süfera Hall are decorated in great detail. The hall known as the Kırmızı (red) Hall is a rectangular room that extends to the sea. This hall was built to be used by the sultans for welcoming ambassadorial visits; the red and gold decorations exemplify the luxury and flare of the design. The ceiling roses include images of flowers; the middle of the roses is rectangular, while the surroundings consist of segmented squares. The ceiling connects to the walls with a wide ornamental band with acanthus motifs. The walls are covered with ornamental motifs or flowers. Similar decorations are to be found in the other corner room.
The magnificent crystal staircase is the main element that units and integrates the two units that make up the Resmî Apartments. The staircase is situated in a rectangular space that is parallel to the sea, creating a symmetrical arrangement that opens onto both rooms of the Resmî Apartments. The staircase, which begins behind two columns, is not very wide. However, the architect dealt with this problem by making the stairs wide at the bottom, while slightly curving and narrower towards the middle, thus offering a wider and longer visage. The fact that the staircase includes this curve, as well as splitting into two to reunite at the top of the stairs, creates a dynamic perspective. Designed before the famous staircase in the Paris Opera House, designed by C. Garnier (1861-1875), the Crystal Staircase is a work of art.
The staircase is illuminated by a metal structure from above. The light that is filtered through the frosted glass gives the staircase, the decorations and materials an air of luxury and panache; the lighting also creates a contrast with the relatively dim corridor that surrounds the staircase. The detail and richness of the decoration complete the baroque style. The ceiling, which has a gothic arch, exemplifies the metal-glass ceilings which became popular towards the end of the 19th century. It is probably one of the earliest examples of this style in Istanbul.
In contrast to the lighting fixture, the illuminated and transparent ceiling is embellished with a rich baroque decoration. The famous crystal banister of the staircase is only a small part of the sublime decoration in this venue. The solid crystal banister with the wide wooden borders in the baroque style acts as the frame not only for the staircase, but also for the rectangular stair enclosure. The stucco technique was applied to the walls as a decorative coating. The high-quality marble used on the columns is gilded up to the level of the banister.
Another part of this level that is equally grandiose and opulent is the Zülvecheyn (two-sided) Hall and this stands parallel to the Süfera Hall. Spaces that stretch towards the garden and sea on the perpendicular extend this structure.
The middle of the Zülvecheyn Salon is in the shape of an oval, transformed by the concave form of the edges. However, the edges of the rectangle are prominent. Due to their concave nature, which gives the illusion that the borders of the middle room are slightly blurred, the corners remain solid. As in any other hall in the palace, the contrast created by different designs is remarkable.
After the Resmî Apartments, a specific structure in its own right, were created with a certain unity, a section which connects the area to the Muayede Hall and a middle section reserved for private use can be found. However, this section is not in keeping with any specific type of plan, but rather is a space used as a corridor and service staircase. This area has a very complicated plan consisting of winding corridors with back-to-back stairs and an air shaft. The difficulty created by the dilemma between traditional palace life and the Western style can be seen best in this area.
There is only one place here that has a surprising arrangement, and that is the Hünkâr Hamamı (baths).
Hünkâr Hamamıcould well be claimed that this one of the most interesting and striking, if not also the costliest, hamams in the world. The Hünkâr Hamamı is circular in shape; to get to this room one has to pass through three areas that are arranged on a single corridor. The first room is a rest area. The temperature of the actual hamam is regulated by the temperature in the two smaller areas, one which is hot and the other cold. The cold room is an extremely plain space. The hot area was constructed from beige pink-veined alabaster. While this material speaks for itself, with its high-quality, luxury panache, it was not used without care; the most unique pieces were used to construct this room. The hamam, with its metal-glass ceiling, is one of the most amazing aspects of architecture.
Muayede HallWhen Dolmabahçe Palace is considered as a whole, the Muayede Hall, due to size and location, is the central component of the design. However, upon closer inspection, it is clearly noticeable that this hall is not associated with the structures of the Resmî and Hususi Apartments, which are adjacent to it.
The Muayede Hall sits on a square substructure measuring 25m by 37m; it is covered by a dome that is only visible from inside the building. The central layout is familiar, with four columns that support the structure. However, this square-like frame has been converted into a rectangular central space by the surrounding corridors on either side. This shape and structure, along with the substructure of the ceiling, were developed according to two different schemas. This difference was not limited to the layout alone, but was extended to the shape and usage of architectural components, the organization of space, the way the surfaces are dealt with and even the decorative elements.
The decoration in the Muayede Hall is a good example of contrasting effects. As for as the substructure is concerned, a more abstract ornamentation, which did not alter the classic shapes of the architectural components, was used for the surfaces. The gilded elements dominate this ornamentation, which in general was decorated in modest colors, shades of brown-beige or yellow-beige, but with very opulent ornamentation. This tactic gives the Muayede Hall a spectacular and imperial atmosphere.
The ornamentation of the ceiling is very different from the decoration of the substructure. The naturalistic bouquets, the draped curtains, candle-holders and vases, and more significantly, the architectural approach, become the main element of the ornamentation.
There is baroque decoration, consisting of curved branches, the architectural elements and the flowers, depicted in the largest possible volume, placed on the spherıcal triangular surfaces. Above these surfaces are depicted large vases, consisting of pots, placed one on top of the other; in each vase a bunch of flowers has been painted. The upmost bunch of flowers is placed in front of the sky, which has been painted bright blue and which can be seen between the curtains.
The surface of the dome is covered with another decoration, one that depicts an architectural component. The composition depicts a ‘celestial palace’ with different rooms, consisting of three stories and covered by a dome.
Hususi ApartmentsTheHünkâr Apartments and Hususi Apartments, which include the Harem, is the most complex part of Dolmabahçe Palace in terms of design and circulation. The challenge arose, as the Ottoman palace had to be able to display classic and traditional elements. This need challenged the design, and is especially noticeable on the side of the Hususi Apartments that face the sea; here there is a section including corridors and staircases. The abundance of these components is probably due to the necessities of hierarchy, protocol and service.
In the space which belonged to the valide sultan (mother of the sultan), which is accessed by the third door of the seaside residence, there is a large oval staircase, positioned between the entrance hall, sea and garden. To the south of this hall, an area known as the Harem Taşlığı, is the large harem staircase. This large, semi-circular staircase is positioned between the halls and consists of two branches allowing the sultan to access the harem. This structure, known as the Sultan’s Stairs, is famous for the detailed structure and decorations that consist of depictions of architectural elements.
There are five large common spaces on both floors of the Hususi Apartment.
The two large halls in the Hünkâr Apartments are referred to as the Blue Salon and Pink Hall; this is due to their dominant colors. The Blue Hall was where the Hususi Apartment ceremonies were held; the sultan and his family would gather on special occasions here, and it is similar to the Süfera Hall in regards to luxury and decoration. However, unlike the Süfera Hall with its heavily gilded decoration, this area is more dominated by pictorial ornamentations. The Pink Hall has windows that overlook the sea and it opens onto a large terrace; the hall is decorated with large rococo mirrors which illuminated the pictures on the walls.
The Harem sits opposite the sea and was thus unable to be viewed by outsiders; the building which connects the Harem to the palace creates an “L” shape. Contrary to the complexity of the Hususi Apartments, the Harem has a rather simple design. The idea of having large public spaces and closed private apartments comes to the fore. The common spaces are between the rooms that are connected to one another with double corridors; the service and airshaft are positioned between them. The middle spaces of the Harem wing are aligned along the axis of the building and the rectangular salons are connected to one another. Large staircases that are positioned across from one another expand the space of the halls. All the corners are decorated with cornered Tuscany headed, flat bodied plaster. The ceilings have geometric frames; the ground decoration, formed of shadowed curved branches, has depictions of flowers on the cartouches. The ceiling of the first room by the west entrance of the Harem include depictions of Istanbul landscapes.
The private apartments, organized as a duplex or a suite, are enclosed, but connected from within; these are positioned on the sides of the main structure. The layout suggests a radical change to the harem lifestyle.
The district of Yıldız was named after Yıldız Palace; the park that it resides in is located on the northeast of the Galata Peninsula, where the Bosphorus straits start.
This non-residential region included the gardens of the emperors during the Byzantine era, and was under the supervision of the bostancıbaşı (head gardener) during the Ottoman administration; during the second half of the nineteenth century, the region was affected by urban development.
Following the construction of Dolmabahçe Palace, the urban expansion between Beşiktaş and Nişantaşı prompted a revival in the region. An urban style took shape and it consisted mostly of narrow streets with staircases, gardens and mulberry groves covering the hilly geography of the region.
The construction of Yıldız Palace, the name of which would be taken on by the district, also fit in, in general, with this model. In this context, Yıldız is the name by which the pavilions, mansions, government offices, security offices, service buildings and parks which start from the coast and stretch towards the northwest, and covering the entire hillside, contained within gardens and groves that measure approximately 500,000m2 are referred to.
This composite model for Yıldız makes it unique in comparison to other residences for the Ottoman sultans.
However, Yıldız Palace also repeats the “city within a city” concept that is similar to the approach use in the old Ottoman palaces. A miniature world was created within the palace, which also housed a carpenter’s workshop, numerous studios, kitchens, barns, pharmacies, plants, defense and private security units, government offices, accommodation, fruit and vegetable gardens, art galleries, a museum, an arsenal and a theatre. The unique concept of the palace, that of a “city within a city”, is no longer evident today.
Parts of the buildings were allocated for the construction of the Nafia Fen Mektebi (science school) and the outer garden was expropriated and converted into a park by the municipality in the 1940s. This process, which disturbed the unity of the palace, continued to move down the hill in later years. But the greatest impact occurred when the barracks associated with the palace, which were to be associated with the Ministry of National Defense, opened on Barbaros Boulevard in 1958. The boulevard, which was in opposition to the historic atmosphere of the area, also led to the loss of many service and security buildings, corrupting the integrity of the İlhamur Valley, in which the palace was situated. More disruption was caused by the construction of the Bosphorus Bridge and the ring roads. At this time, the outer garden of the palace was bisected and the Orhaniye Barracks were removed.
With Barbaros Boulevard was opened the new construction led to a fast decay in the historic feeling of the city. While the gardens were destroyed, the buildings were replaced with construction sites. Construction plans intended for four-story buildings turned into buildings of up to eight stories.
The region had remained as the rear garden of the seaside palace until the beginning of the nineteenth century; thus, the area maintained the atmosphere and vegetation of a garden. The first known building to be constructed here was the pavilion that was built on the hill on the orders of Selim III; this was constructed for the sultan’s mother, Mihrişah Valide Sultan, in 1804-5. However, this structure is no longer standing today. The fountain which remains is the only piece dating from this period. Mahmud II ordered that a small new mansion be built in 1834, again on the hill; it is possible that this mansion was called Yıldız, the name later to be given to the palace and the district. Mahmud II made use of this mansion to supervise the newly established modern army - Asâkir-i Mansûre. There is only limited information available regarding this early period.
The actual expansion of Yıldız Palace occurred during the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the twentieth century, particularly during the reign of Abdülhamid II. During this period, in order to expand the outer garden, private houses were purchased from the surrounding area. It is also recorded that there was a staff of 5,000 people, 7,000 soldiers and a population of about 12,000, in addition to those who served the palace either directly or indirectly, living in and around the palace.
Despite fires and additions that occurred in the following years, the basic essence of the housing and environment, the gardens and the architecture of the structures did not change significantly. The palace therefore must be considered to be a significant witness of the environment and architectural practices, conceptualization methods, and thus the formation of the palace.
The preference of small-sized structures for official and private purposes in the palace, such as pavilions and mansions, is an important aspect. Yıldız Palace is an imperial complex that consists of mansions, pavilions and other service buildings; from time to time these burned down or were demolished and then re-built. This kind of configuration created a style of land utilization that put pressure neither on the topography nor the vegetation; on the contrary a utilization style which eased adaptation to the environment was implemented.
The buildings are mostly centered in the northwest section of the area; this area expanded particularly during the reign of Abdülhamid II and Sultan Abdülaziz, covering approximately 500,000 m2. The structures that are positioned in this area are established in an order that follows the slope of the land, arranged in a consecutive line that goes from south to north, and are built closely to one another.
The park of Yıldız Palace was also designed and organized in a unique way. It is widely believed that an attempt to create a beautiful setting with a romantic garden and formal gardens in front of the large mansions and pavilions was made.
The diversity of styles of the buildings that make up Yıldız Palace naturally to the fore the influence of numerous architects. Due to the fact that the official archives have as yet not been examined, which architect built which structures is not entirely known. Despite the contributions of numerous architects to Yıldız Palace, Sarkis, Agop Balyan, Yanko and Raimondo d’Aronco were the only architects that we know of. Garabet Balyan, Vasilaki, Ioannidis and A. Vallaury are assumed to have been involved in the construction, although this too has not yet been verified. According to M. Cezar, Berthier is one of the leading names among these architects.
The revivalist and historicist environment that existed during the years in which Yıldız Palace was created, and the openness to change and experiment that was part of the search for new architectural styles and narratives which existed at the beginning of the century strengthened the appearance of connection between the buildings, built with an architecture by artists from a number of nations and different training. The architects Agop Sarkis and Balyan designed Büyük Mabeyn, the first part of Şale Pavilion, Küçük Şale Pavilion and the Malta and Çadır pavilions. R. d’Aronco’s list of buildings is significantly longer: it includes greenhouses and winter gardens, the Yaveran Pavilion, Nöbetçi Pavilion, Harem Pavilion, northern annexes and a renovation of the Şale Pavilion, as well as barns, a stable, as well as the renovation of the ceramic factory and the exhibition building.
Apart from buildings and barracks which were intended to protect the palace, Yıldız Palace is also surrounded by high, thick walls that fill the open spaces between buildings. Another protective wall inside the complex surrounds the buildings that belonged to the sultan, the harem and Hasbahçe (private gardens).
The land of the palace is divided into adjacent but separate sections, bound together by functions: 1) resmî daireler (official offices - service buildings, etc.), 2) a private section (the pavilion, summer palace, etc. that belonged to the harem and the sultan, as well as the Hasbahçe), 3) the outer garden (outer mansions and large park), and 4) surrounding structures (barracks, police station, etc).
The palace has five gates that open onto official and private sections that are surrounded by walls. 1) Koltuk Gate: the first gate on the left at the end of the road that leads to the palace was reserved for personnel and visitors; it would be open throughout the day. 2) Saltanat Gate: this is the second gate on the left end of the road that leads to the palace which was reserved for use by the sultan 3) Valide Gate: on the axis of the road leading to the palace gate, this gate was only used by the harem, invited foreign representatives and high officials. 4) Harem İç Gate: This gate, to the northeast of the Büyük Mabeyn garden, belonged to the Harem and Harem personnel. 5) Mecidiye Gate: this gate is located to the left of the Beşiktaş-Ortaköy route and was the entrance to the outdoor garden that was reserved for use by palace staff and visitors. Apart from these gates there are also the Orhaniye and the Ceramics Factory gates which provide entry to the palace and barracks for those using horse-drawn carriages and other forms of transport.
The Official SectionThe official section includes the most formal housing and garden layout. Most of the buildings are located in the section known as the First Courtyard.
The Büyük Mabeyn is the main building of this section. The previous wooden mansion was knocked down; Sultan Abdülaziz ordered that this new mansion was to be built in its place. This action in turn led to development in surrounding areas. The building designed and built by Agop and Sarkis Balyan between 1865 and 1866 sits on the top of the hill, on a wide plateau created by a segment of the high retaining wall. Although not very large (approximately 30 x 45 m), the building dominates the surroundings and is the monumental structure of Yıldız Palace. The layout is a variation of the central hall/classical divan scheme that was used in the Istanbul seaside palaces, as well as in Beylerbeyi and Dolmabahçe Palace. This scheme is carried out eclectically with the inclusion of occasional oriental figures.
The Set Pavilion, a one-story wooden building, is connected to the Büyük Mabeyn from the northeast corner via a glass corridor; this pavilion was built in 1889 in honor of the German emperor, Wilhelm II’s, visit to Istanbul and his attendance to the Friday Selamlik Ceremony.
While the Çit Pavilion forms the northern border of the rectangular formal garden in front of Büyük Mabeyn, the Yaveran Apartments forms the eastern limit. The Harem Gate to the northeast leads to a private section. The Çit Pavilion, one of the structures about which no exact construction dates is known, was built during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876); Yaveran Pavilion and the Harem Gate were built during the reign of Abdülhamid II (1876-1909). Çit Pavilion is a long, narrow (approximately 10m x 60m), rectangular wooden building. This building, assumed to have been designed to welcome diplomatic personnel and ambassadors, consists of a series of interlocking halls. The Yaveran Apartments, as well as the Nöbetçi Pavilion and the Harem Gate, were designed by R. d’Aronco. The Yarveran Apartments is a two-story wooden building, consisting of five long, narrow, rectangular chambers. With the honeycomb wooden window ornaments and canopy the building resembles a residential building, much with the style of a chalet, rather than a building with an official function. The Nöbetçi Pavilion also has a small wooden canopy, but stands out with its baroque style.
In the southern parts of the official section were the Hünkâr Mutfağı (sultan’s kitchen) and the Özel Kiler (private cellar) as well as the Silah Müzesi or Silahhane Köşkü (weapons museum or armory pavilion) and the Saray Arabacıları Koğuşu (imperial coachmen’s wards). This area, consisting of adjacent, narrow, long rectangular buildings, ends with the Arnavut Tüfekçiler Koğuşu (Albanian riflemen’s wards) in the far corner; this structure can house up to six coaches. The west wing of the last building functioned as a police station.
The most interesting building in the series is the Silahhane Köşkü. This tall building, which at first had only one floor, was later expanded to two stories on the southern side, taking advantage of the natural inclination of the land. The mansion has a long façade that oversees the garden from the higher single-story. The main hall on the inside consists of a long, rectangular space.
The Saray Kitaplığı (palace library) and Rasathane (observatory) are located on the southern side of the garden. Both the library and the observatory are still used today by a waqf.
There is another structure known as the Güvercinlik Pavilion, located in the south garden. This building, which is still used by a waqf, is a small, exotic mansion designed with a combination of neo-gothic and chinoiserie genres, probably created by the architect, R. d’Aronco.
The second half of the official section is located under the walls on which the Büyük Mabeyn rests; part of the official section extends northward. The structures are located on the lower level and open onto a narrow garden; they follow a north-south direction. These are service buildings, such as Kilar-ı Hümayun (imperial cellars), Hazine-i Evrak (archives), Tercüme Odası (translators’ office), Teşrifat Nazırı Dairesi (protocol office). All of these buildings are simple in style with a functional architecture.
The major buildings of the outer garden include the Şale Pavilion and the Malta, Çadır pavilions and the Imperial Ceramic Factory.
The Şale Imperial Pavilion is one of the most magnificent buildings that makes up Yıldız Palace. Registered as the Ceremony Pavilion, it was built over three or four different phases. The architect of the first phase is unknown. It appears to have originally been a medium size chalet and was probably built sometime before 1879-1880; a new building of equal size was added by Sarkis Balyan for the visit of the German emperor, Wilhelm II; the pavilion has been designed as a high level ceremonial chalet. In particular, the design of the dining hall and the oriental ornaments were the artistic work of Sarkis Balyan.
The top section of the hamam that is in the direction of the Harem section of the chalet was converted sometime between 1880 and 1889 into a wide ceremonial hall with unconventional ceiling paintings depicting Istanbul landscape. The wide-reaching renovation was carried out by Raimond d’Arronco in 1898 to mark the occasion of the second visit by Wilhelm II to Istanbul. The chalet was duplicated in terms of plan and size and a ceremonial pavilion with magnificent halls resulted. The Şale Pavilion, famous for the ceremonial hall, reflects the most glamorous lines of the Italian naturalist school; the building currently functions as a palace museum under the administration of TBMM National palaces. The famous ceremony hall is unique with its gold leaf ceiling ornaments, mirrored walls and 420 m² monoblock carpet, specially woven at the Hereke factory. In this hall important political meetings were held; on 31 December 1908, following the proclamation of the Second Meşrutiyet (constitutional monarchy), Sultan Abdulhamid II arranged a dinner party for members of parliament and his cabinet. After the First Secretary had finished speaking, the emperor sat down to dinner with the first ever elected and appointed public officers.
Çadır Pavilion was designed as a place to rest after a long walk in the outer garden. It was built as a one-story building during the reign of Abdülaziz.
Malta Pavilion, which might be considered to be a gazebo, was built during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz and has a panoramic view overlooking the coast towards Çırağan Palace. Designed in a classical style, it also has the same design inside.
The Imperial Ceramic Factory was built in 1893-1894 to meet the requirements of the palace and to manufacture products that could be of par with those produced in Europe, in particular the Sèvres china. The factory was built in two different phases on the top of the hill in the northeastern part of the outer garden. The factory was burned down in the year it was built and later was renewed and expanded by the Italian architect, R. d’Aranco. His design had been exhibited at the Torino Architecture Triennial in 1896. The factory was closed after Abdülhamid II was dethroned; however, the Ministry of Education reopened it to manufacture small vases, cups, plates, etc., which were marketed in Army and Navy shops. During the early Republican period, the factory was managed by Sümerbank. Currently, it is under the administration of National Palaces.
The barns and stables are located between Orhaniye Barracks and Yıldız Garden, in the northeast part of the Yıldız Palace campus, inside the boundaries of the outer garden. The date of construction is not known. The barn, which is part of the palace, is known as İstabl-i Amire-i Ferhan or Ferhan Tavilesi, and is located on a northwest to southeast line, within a long, narrow space, measuring 10m x 15m dimensions; the masonry building is rectangular in shape. There is a two-story building in the middle of the symmetrical axis of the building, between the barns; both sides were renovated by R. d’Aronco. This section is Art Nouveau in style and is different from the other sides.
The stables is thought to have been part of the İstabl-i Amire, and is located on the northern part of the palace, in front of Orhaniye Barracks and inside the walls of the palace today. The stables, designed by R. d’Aronco, were exhibited at Udine City Museum with a blue print and a sectioned view. The stables were built according to a plan that measured 15m x 30m and was rectangular in shape.
There is much more to Yıldız Palace than the space and size of the campus presented in this essay. Some of the abandoned buildings include Acem Chalet, the electricity factory, the fire brigade lodges, similar service buildings, buildings for the second generation, monuments and, more importantly, the barracks, known as Ertuğrul, Balmumcu and Orhaniye, proving that the palace was a significant urban establishment.
The private section is separated from the Official Section by a very high wall. The wall, designed by R. D’Aronco, begins in front of the Çit chalet in the north of the garden and curves eastward.
The magnificent fountain, located in front of the wall and decorated with baroque ornaments, appears to be a nymphaeum model, and connects the garden and the wall up to the line of the Palace. The arch-shaped Great Harem door, ornamented with the sultan’s tuğra, is located on the eastern corner of the wall and gives a monumental effect.
This section, which belonged to the sultan and his family, still preserves the beauty of the era. It was meant to have a belvedere atmosphere, with an artificial pool and waterway, known as called Hamit Havuzu. The picturesque atmosphere of Yıldız Palace is predominant throughout this section. The most significant structure in this section is Hünkar Dairesi (imperial chamber). The palace was built during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid and was used as the harem continuously from the time Abdülhamid II arrived at Yıldız. Some changes and additions have been made to the palace during the reign of Abdülhamid II, and these have resulted in the palace losing its symmetry.
Another part of the Private Section is a two-story wooden structure called Küçük Mabeyin. The spectacular art nouveau stairs with a metal banister, formed from colorful flower stems is the main design feature in this building. The windows in the upper hall where the spiral stairs terminate contain stained glass panes signed by Bonet. The front of the building has also been designed with Viennese art nouveau styles that run parallel to the art nouveau style that is dominant in the interior.
In front of the small chamber is a small conservatory. This neo-baroque structure, which was made from cast iron with “rococo’’ ornaments, was designed and built by R. D’Aronco in 1895-1896.
The most impressive part of the Private Section is the theater. Abdülhamid II was a keen supporter of theater arts; plays and concerts were arranged to inaugurate the structure. The Italian artists employed in the palace dominated these events. However, famous artists like Sarah Bernhardt, Coquelin or Chaliapin would also perform here, to be awarded with imperial medals. It is said that the theater had originally been a barn of modest dimensions. The entrance to the theater is through a hall that measures 10 m x 12 m. The stage is raised approximately 6 meters hig. A U-shape balcony upstairs overlooks the stage and is held up by 12 columns, in four groups. Above is an ornamented wooden dome. The Hünkar Locası’ (imperial box) is richly ornamented and was used for meetings and conversations during performances. On the side of the theater were four latticed rooms reserved for the Harem-i Humayun (imperial harem)
Yeni Pavilion was designed by the architect Vasilaki, and is considered to have been one of the most beautiful structures of the palace. The still-life paintings on the ceilings and the compositions, entitled “four seasons” were painted by the renowned artist of the period, Ahmed Ali (Şeker Ahmet Pasha). The pavilion, ravaged by a fire during the reign of the Sultan Mehmed VI, has a hamam designed by R. D’Aronco in the art nouveau style, with tiles, glass panes, gilded reticulated windows, and so on; this is still one of the most beautifully decorated parts of the palace still standing today.
Next to the Yeni Pavilion there is another small structure known as the Japon Usulü Pavilion (Japanese style); this was built after the earthquake of 1894 and was likely designed by R. D’Aronco. On the northwest and southeast sides of the second Harem courtyard was the Çukursaray and Damatlar (Grooms) Apartments, as well as the Şehzadegan (princes’) chalets that stood opposite. Each of the Şehzade chalets were different from one another, but all were elegant and had meticulous wooden constructions; these were located on the western side of the wall which separates the second courtyard and Şale Mansion. Damatlar Apartments, on the western side of the garden, included 4 adjacent buildings that were not like any other existing Ottoman architecture. However, in terms of exterior appearance, Damatlar Apartments were consistent with nineteenth century structure. The Damatlar Apartments were completely renovated before being handed over to the architecture department in 1942, after the second Harem courtyard had been given to the Technical School in 1937. There were also many small chalets belonging to the women of the harem and the palace staff located on the north side of the Hasbahçe (private gardens), also known as the Second Courtyard. Some of these burnt down and were abandoned, while others deteriorated over time. The pavilions, Kadıefendiler, Hazinedar Ustalar, and Cariyeler Daireleri, were all connected by glass passages on the northeast end of the Private Section.
The Marangozhane, (carpenter’s workshop), which was meant as a workspace in which Abdülhamid II could pursue his love of carpentry, was equipped with the necessary tools; it is located between the Official Section and Hasbahçe. The structure is narrow and long.
The Fountain of Selim III (1805) is the oldest and most important historical structure, and it rests on the island in the center of the artificial lake in the Hasbahçe. The small chalets, pergolas made of artificial leaves, an aviary, deer house, etc., all decorated with still-life paintings, landscapes or art nouveau style decorations, remain intact today.