THE YILDIZ PALACE
This is a complex of pavilions and gardens scattered over a large area of hills and valleys
overlooking the Bosphorus and surrounded by high walls. This second largest palace in Istanbul is now separated into various sections, each serving a different purpose. The 500,000 sq. m grove had always been reserved for the court, and the first mansion built here in the early 19th century was quickly followed by others. When Sultan Abdulhamid II, who was an overly suspicious person, decided that this palace offered better security, the complex soon developed into its present form.
During his thirty-three year reign, the sultan used this well-protected palace resembling a city within a city as his official quarters and harem. The different courtyards containing pavilions, pools, greenhouses, aviaries, workshops and servants' quarters were separated from each other by passageways and gates. There are two small and charming mosques situated outside the two main entrances.
The buildings that were allocated to the higher military academy have been vacated now. The facilities to the north are still used for military purposes, but the other sections have been assigned to the use of the Yildiz Technical University, the municipality, the Department of National Palaces, and the Institute for Research in the History of Islamic Arts and Cultures.
The large part of the palace gardens, some old pavilions and the famous porcelain workshops are open to the public in what is now called the Yildiz Park. The park is connected to the Ciragan Palace on the seashore with a bridge. The best-known building in the complex, the Sale (chalet) Pavilion, is reached through the park. The pavilion is an important museum with its well-kept gardens, its exterior architecture resembling Alpine hunting lodges, its rich decorations, valuable furniture, carpets, and large ceramic stoves.
The main entrance of the Yildiz Palace is up the hill from Besikta§. The Muayede Pavilion to the left of the entrance is now being renovated as a new museum. Also on the left side are the single-storied Qt Pavilion, where the guests of the sultan were accommodated, and the entrance to the harem. On the opposite side stood the offices of the military officers in charge, the Yaveran chambers. The greenhouse and the theater in the harem section are attractive examples of their kind.
The staff dining room to the right of the entrance was later used to exhibit weapons collections. Today exhibitions and concerts take place here.
The Yildiz Palace Museum and the Municipal Museum of Istanbul are also in this complex. The Palace museum was founded in 1994 and it occupies the former carpentry workshops. Carved and painted wooden artifacts, thrones, porcelain produced in the palace workshops, and other objects from the palace are exhibited here, while in the Municipal Museum next to it glass and porcelain wares, silverware, paintings depicting Istanbul and a rare 16th century oil lamp are on display.