It was built in between 1466 and 1478, a couple of years before the death of Fatih. Unlike any European Palace, its architecture is predominantly Middle Eastern in character. The initial construction was Cinili Mansion, a Glass Palace finished in 1472, and the imposing main gate facing Sultanahmet, Bab-I Humayun, and the Palace ramparts, were completed in 1478.
There were originally 750 residents of the Palace, during Fatih's period, which became drastically more congested reaching 5000 during normal days and 10,000 during festivals. Extensions had to be built, and the harem was completed in 1595 during the third Sultan Murad's era, after which the harem residents were moved in from the palace at Beyazit, with a total of 474 concubines. Special tours of the Harem are available. The Harem, literally meaning "forbidden" in Arabic, was the suite of apartments in the palace belonging to the wives, concubines and children of the head of the household.
Around the Harem there were, Circumcision Room, the apartments of the Chief Black Eunuch, and apartments of the sultan – in total over 400 rooms. Other highlights in the Palace are the Spoonmaker's Diamond (the fourth largest diamond in the world), the Topkapi Dagger, (a gift from Mahmut I), a vast collection of paintings and miniatures, and the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle (including a footprint, a tooth and a hair of the Prophet Mohammed).
Opening hours: Daily 09.00 – 17.00, winter closed Tuesday.
The palace has a level of luxury, which has not presented in most other palaces, with walls and ceilings decorated with gold, and European art from the period. Top quality silk and wool carpets, southeast Asian hand-made artifacts, and crystal candlesticks adorn every room. The men's hamam (public bath) is adorned with alabaster marble, and the harem also contains the Sultan's bedrooms and the women and servants' divisions. One of the highlights is the throne room, which stands at an amazing 36-metres high – almost twice the height of the rest of the rooms. The east wing is home to the Museum of Fine Arts.
Opening hours: Daily 09.00 – 16.00, except Monday and Thursday.
Telephone number to book guided tours: (0212) 23 69 600.
The interior construction was rebuilt, at a cost of four million gold coins, beginning with covering the ceiling with wood and the walls with marble. The rooms were decorated with rare carpets, furniture, gold and silver. The sides of the building were decorated with coloured marble, and monumental gates connected it to Yildiz Palace, via a bridge, which is how the harem women went between the two, in total privacy.
It briefly housed the Turkish Parliament from 1908, but was destroyed by a fire two years later, and was only rebuilt in 1991. Now, it is Istanbul's premier luxury hotel, and has retained something of its former glory.
The building comprises of three floors, and contains 26 rooms and six halls, which includes the harem and men's greeting rooms. The interior is decorated with Bohemian chandeliers, valuable tiles and ceramic vases. Silver-edged furniture and luxurious carpets add something to the beauty, and even till today the authentic furniture, carpets, curtains and other property have been well preserved.
A big pool, terraces and stables, face at the back of cliff. A road and tunnel, used until 1970, passed under the palace garden and were used by the most distinguished foreign dignitaries when visiting the palace.
Open daily except Monday and Thursday.
It was in the centre of the Ottoman Empire for 30 years, during the reign of Abdulhamid II, and the second largest palace in Istanbul. The main structure of Yildiz Palace, was built in the old Ottoman style and the pavilions which are dotted around the park were transformed into a power base. The most important remaining building is Sale Koske, where receptions were held, and is the largest and most ornate and reveals the luxury in which the sultans lived and entertained. The first section was modelled on a Swiss Chalet, the second two completed in the late 19th century.
Some of the mansions are undergoing restoration, but Sale is open for visitors, and two have terraces serving food and drinks. Further along the path is a State museum, the Belediye Sehir Muzesi, and Yildiz Sarayi Theatre.
Park: Open daily 09.00 – 17.30
Sale Kosku: Open daily 09.30 – 17.00, except Monday and Thursday.
Museum: Open daily 09.00 – 16.30, except Monday.
The pavilion, most recently restored in 2000, also has exhibition of old Turkish musical instruments. The windows facing the sea are decorated with stained glass.
Opening hours: 09.00 - 16.00, closed Mondays and Thursdays.
Hereke Silk Fabric and Carpet Factory
Yalova Atatürk Mansions