About Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayi), meaning ‘Lord of Lords’, was built during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz in the 1860s and is situated in the Üsküdar district in Istanbul. Serving as the residence of visiting dignitaries, Beylerbeyi Palace has played host to kings, shahs and princesses.
Beylerbeyi Palace history
Comissioned by Sultan Abdulaziz, the Beylerbeyi Palace was built between 1861 and 1865 as a summer residence and place to entertain visiting heads of state. The palace combined a blend of Western and Eastern styles, including features of a Turkish house (Harem baths and Mabeyn). The Sultan Abdulaziz was passionate about the Ottoman Navy, at the time the world’s third largest fleet, therefore requesting ceilings and edges adorned with nautical motifs.
Empress Eugenie of France visited Beylerbeyi shortly after its completion on her journey to open the Suez Canal in 1869; delighted by the palace elegance, she had a copy of the window in her guest room made for her bedroom in Tuileries Palace, Paris. In the 20th century, the palace hosted the likes of other regal visitors such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, King Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson.
Despite the grandeur of Beylerbeyi Palace, during the late 19th and the early 20th century, the Ottoman Empire became an ever-increasingly fractured state. Experiencing rebellions, particularly in the Balkans, and an unsuccessful war with the Russian Empire, the Empire’s efforts at modernisation could not stop bankruptcy or the Young Turk revolution.
The Sultan Abdulhamid II, both moderniser and brutal repressor, was deposed in 1909 and exiled to Salonica. However, he spent his final six years in Beylerbeyi Palace, writing memoirs until his death in February 1918. The reign of his successor and brother, Mehmed V, would oversee the systematic genocide of Christian Armenians.
Beylerbeyi Palace today
Seen as a smaller yet remarkably lavish companion to the Dolmabahce Palace, visitors to Beylerbeyi can today go on guided tours around the palace, viewing the six staterooms and 26 smaller rooms all overlooking the Bosphorus Bridge. Be advised that if you want to see the exquisitely detailed interior of the palace, including ornate chandeliers and masterpieces by Baccarat and Murano, you will have to wear plastic covers on your shoes and photography is prohibited.
Getting to Beylerbeyi Palace
Located on the water’s edge, you can reach Beylerbeyi Palace on the C118 bus line, stopping at Beylerbeyi Saray. There is car parking 500m walk away on Beybostanı Sk.