01-02-2021 - History

14 Must-Visit Palaces and Mansions of Istanbul: A Guide

Throughout history, Istanbul acted as the capital of many empires because of its unique location between two continents. Because of this, there are still countless historical sites in the city, particularly palaces and mansions from the Ottoman Empire. If you want to learn about these luxurious accommodations and/or visit them, here are the **best palaces and mansions in Istanbul*.

Palaces

  • Topkapi Palace: As it is one of the most known places in Istanbul, Topkapi Palace gathers hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Built in the eastern side of the Fatih district, this palace overlooks both the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Since it is easily the most important palace in the Ottoman history, you will find many interesting and significant Ottoman relics inside, such as weapons, armors, paintings and engravings.
  • Yildiz Palace: Built in the year 1880, Yildiz Palace was the last Ottoman Palace that was ever built. It was used by Sultan Abdulhamid II and was converted into a luxury casino after the foundation of Republic of Turkey. It later became a guest house for statesmen. Today, it is a museum complex with multiple parts. Inside, you can find the state apartments, the Sale Kiosk, Malta Kiosk, Cadir Kiosk, Yildiz Theatre, Opera House and the Imperial Porcelain Factory.
  • Dolmabahce Palace: After the Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace is the second most famous historical Ottoman palace in Istanbul. Built in the late Ottoman era, this place is one of the most luxurious buildings you can see. The palace has 285 rooms and 46 halls, 6 baths and 68 toilets. It was established on an area of 110,000 square meters. Plus, the interior is made out of very expensive materials like crystal and gold. In its period, it was one of the most important **Ottoman palaces in Istanbul**.
  • Ciragan Palace: Located between the shores of Besiktas and Ortakoy, Ciragan Palace was once an Ottoman palace that was taken down and rebuilt many times. The one we know today was completed during Sultan Abdulaziz’s reign in 1871. Like many other Ottoman palaces, the materials used in Ciragan Palace are rare and expensive, like porphyry, marble and mother-of-pearl. Today, it is one of the most luxurious hotels in Istanbul under Kempinski.
  • Beylerbeyi Palace: As one of the few Ottoman palaces that was built in the Asian side of Istanbul, Beylerbeyi Palace has a significant place in the Turkish history. Built in the year of 1865 by the famous Armenian architect Sarkis Balyan, this magnificent place was used to host foreign statesmen, like Serbian Prince, King of Montenegro, Shah of Iran, French Empress, mainly in the summer years. After he was dethroned, Sultan Abdulhamid II was held here until his death in 1918. While it is less known than other imperial palaces, it is definitely one of the most significant **historical palaces of Istanbul**.

Mansions

  • Tiled Pavilion Museum: Tiled Pavilion is the first building Mehmet the Conqueror built inside the Topkapi Palace complex. Completed in the 1472 according to the inscription on the entrance, it was mainly used by the sultans for pleasure. It takes its name from the special Iznik tiles it was made from. Inside, you can get a closer look of the many Islamic relics that were decorated with the same Iznik monochrome art style. It is definitely one of the top attractions in Istanbul.
  • Adile Sultan Pavilion: This pavilion was built in 1858 by Sarkis Balyan as a gift to the Sultan Abdulmecid’s sister Adile Sultan. But the after seeing that the original building sustained a lot of damage, Sultan Abdulaziz rebuilt the pavilion and the building we know today was created. Its Oval Hall has a capacity of 500 people. Plus, it has a meeting room for 200 people, 17 seminars rooms for 30 to 50 people, a cocktail area of 1300 m2 and a garden with a capacity of 1000 people.
  • Ihlamur Pavilion: Made from cut stone by Nigogos Balyan during the reign of Sultan Abdulmecit, Ihlamur Palace is one of the two buildings in the area. It is also known as the Merasim Pavilion. The other building, the Maiyet Pavilion, has a much simpler design. Today, you can tour the magnificent garden of this place and enjoy a great Turkish breakfast inside, for a surprisingly cheap price.
  • Tophane Pavilion: Located in the Tophane neighborhood near the Nusretiye Mosque, this pavilion was also built by Sultan Abdulmecid. It was designed by the English architect William James Smith. Its parallel location to the sea, decorations on its exterior, the penwork ceiling decorations and the marble fireplaces are amongst its most attractive characteristics.
  • Malta Kiosk: This luxurious kiosk is inside the Yildiz Park where you can find the Yildiz Palace. It was built in 1871 by Sultan Abdulaziz in the backyard of the Ciragan Palace. Its most striking feature is the large room with a marble pool adorned by a fountain with a swan motif in front of the sea. The windows of the rooms, which are accessed by stairs on both sides of the pool room, are made of yellow, red, blue and white glasses.

Seaside Mansions

  • Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem Mansion: Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem is one of the most significant authors of Turkish literature. This is the mansion he grew up and got married in. Even though it became a corn oil factory in the 1950s, it was restored to its earlier form in 1988.
  • Deli Fuad Pasha Mansion: This mansion is located in Istinye Cove and gets its name from the Fuat Pasha, an Ottoman soldier. He had the “Deli” (mad) title because of his brave actions during battles. He bought the mansion after he returned to Istanbul from his exile in Damascus and was the fourth owner of the mansion.
  • Mediha Sultan Mansion: Built by Mustafa Reşit Pasha in 1830, this mansion was used as shelter by Damat Ferit Pasha when he allied with the invader forces during the War of Independence. Today, its harem section is used as a hospital while the part for the men is a social facility for Istanbul University.
  • Yusuf Ziya Pasha Mansion: Famously known as “The Haunted Mansion” among Turkish people, this building was built by Yusuf Ziya Pasa, an Ottoman statesman. According to rumors, Yusuf Ziya Pasha wanted to impress the woman he loved and keep her away from other people’s sights. After its construction came to a halt during WW1, its 2nd and 3rd floors remained empty for decades. After Yusuf Ziya Pasha passed away, people believed that both Yusuf Ziya Pasha’s and his lover’s souls were still living inside the mansion. Some workers even say that they saw a female ghost in the mirror of the woman’s room. Today, it is owned by Borusan as both an office and a museum, and one of the greatest **mansions in Istanbul**.

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