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x0x Beylerbeyi Palace

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    [See more on the Palace at : http://www.kultur.gov.tr/portal/default_en.asp?belgeno=736 http://english.istanbul.com/PhotoGallery.asp?cat=Saraylar-Beylerbeyi
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2004
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      [See more on the Palace at :
      http://archnet.org/library/images/thumbnails.tcl?location_id=9466 ]

      x0x Beylerbeyi Palace

      By Muge Iplikci

      The beautiful terraced gardens behind Beylerbeyi Palace used to be
      known as the Gardens of the Cross because of a cross erected here by
      Constantine the Great. I stood beside the large pool that belonged to
      the earlier palace on the same site. From Byzantine times onwards
      numerous magnificent buildings were constructed here, enhancing the
      beauty of nature with that of architecture. The sun shone brightly and
      a gentle breeze was blowing, carrying the salty tang of the Bosphorus
      waves. A group of Turkish and foreign tourists arrived. They had just
      finished a guided tour of the two parts of the palace - the private
      harem and the state apartments - and seen the three halls, six
      reception rooms and some at least of the 26 smaller rooms on the three
      storeys. They had walked over the rush matting from Egypt that covers
      the floors of this summer palace, and seen the enormous carpets made
      in Hereke, kilims, Bohemian crystal chandeliers, French clocks, Yildiz
      porcelain vases, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, furniture carved with
      kufi inscriptions, sweeping staircases, richly decorated columns,
      tall windows giving a glimpse of the sunny day outside, the mingled
      sounds of past and present and unidentifiable shadows.

      History is concealed in details. I know they visited the Yellow
      Pavilion beside the large pool, the magnificent Palace Stables
      befitting the imperial horses, and the enchanting Marble Pavilion with
      its pool and fountain. Here the guide had touched one of the columns
      and explained that these were real marble whereas those in the palace
      proper were marezzo marble. It is not hard to imagine one of the
      visitors asking what the difference was, and the guide replying,
      perhaps, that real marble is a petrified substance that when touched
      conveys its penetrating coldness, a property which is infectious
      because marble is real and alive. Beylerbeyi Palace took its name from
      Mehmed Pasa, who was Beylerbeyi of Rumelia during the reign of Murad
      III (1574-1595).

      The former wooden summer palace built in the first half of the 19th
      century by Mahmud II (1808-1839) burned down in the summer of 1851,
      leaving only the Marble Pavilion with its delicately carved decoration
      of shells, seaweed and other marine motifs on the ceiling and walls,
      and the large pool where swans used to glide. In its place the present
      palace designed by Sultan Abdulaziz's architect Sarkis Balyan was
      built by five thousand labourers and artisans.

      The new stone palace, completed in 1864, is ornately decorated on both
      the exterior and interior. The painted decoration on the interior
      walls was the work of palace artists, that in the rooms of Sultan
      Abdulaziz himself consisting of naturalistic scenes with birds and
      animals, and richly gilded with gold leaf. No expense was spared in
      the creation of a modern palace of a splendour befitting the Ottoman

      A coalgas plant was specially constructed on Nakkas Street to provide
      the palace with gas-fired lighting. Many of the furnishings for both
      the main palace and its pavilions were imported from Europe. Although
      the interior has a strongly eastern flavour with many traditional
      Turkish and Islamic motifs, and the layout is typically Turkish, the
      exterior is westernised in concept, its ornamentation in keeping with
      western tastes of the time combining eclectic elements from Greek,
      Roman, Renaissance and baroque styles.

      Over the years several foreign statesmen stayed here when they visited
      Istanbul, the most famous foreign visitor probably being the Empress
      EugeniƩ, who stayed in the palace as the guest of Sultan Abdulaziz in
      the third quarter of the 19th century. The bedroom she used was number
      24 in the harem, and a bathroom was constructed especially for her
      use. It was also here that Sultan Abdulhamid II spent the last six
      years of his life, after being deposed in 1909.

      The photograph I took that day shows the stately and ornate Beylerbeyi
      Palace against the background of the Bosphorus. Beneath the place
      where I stood lies the tunnel through which the old road used to pass,
      and in the centre of the tunnel is a fountain inscribed with the name
      of Sultan Mahmud II. The tranquil and evocative atmosphere is what I
      remember best about Beylerbeyi Palace, through whose rooms and gardens
      sultans once strolled.

      * Muge Iplikci is a short story writer
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