Photograph: Ali KonyalıPhotograph: Ali KonyalıPhotograph: Ali KonyalıPhotograph: Ali KonyalıPhotograph: Ali Konyalı

Name of Monument:

Beylerbeyi Palace


Beylerbeyi, Istanbul, Turkey

Date of Monument:

Hegira 1281 / AD 1865

Architect(s) / master-builder(s):

Sarkis Balyan and Agop Balyan.

Period / Dynasty:



Sultan Abdülaziz (r. AH 1277–93 / AD 1861–76).


Beylerbeyi Palace is a seaside residence in the Beylerbeyi district (formerly known as İstavroz Bahçeleri or 'Cross Gardens') on the Anatolian side of the Bosphorus Strait. The various parts of the palace complex have been put together independently, regardless of symmetry. The main structure, the palace building, is a two-storey brick construction rising on a high basement. It occupies a rectangular area oriented north to south and measures approximately 65 m x 40 m. The southern section is designed as state apartments (mabeyn), the northern section as the family's living quarters (harem). The main building has a symmetrical and axial layout; in contrast to the Western influence apparent from the outside, its plan resembles that of a traditional Turkish house, arranged around a central courtyard with iwans. The wall which runs along the quay, enlivened with repeating triple pilasters, includes two gates opening onto the water and two small seaside pavilions, one for men and the other for women. These splendid gates, called waterside or sea gates, were used to secure the entrance to the palace from the water. The sea gates, one of which was designed to belong to the men's quarters and the other to the women's, show Eastern influence; their design is interesting, enlivening as they do the two ends of the straight line created by the shore-side wall.
The other buildings in the complex, dispersed throughout the complex within walled gardens and connected to one another by stairs and ramps, are the Marble Pavilion, the Yellow Pavilion and the private stables. The Deer House, Bird House, Lion House, the Pavilion of the Pashas and Music Pavilion are no longer standing.
The façades of the Beylerbeyi Palace, like the organisation of the inner spaces, take eclectic forms. It is clear that Sultan Abdülaziz was inspired by his new palace and interested in its decoration. The façades include arches and windows in the Greek and Roman styles, a balanced Classical scheme is achieved also by the use of round arches and limited architectural forms; the plastic effect of Baroque designs is also apparent. In contrast to the evident Western influence seen in the external decoration, the interior spaces are heavy with traditional Ottoman and Eastern motifs. Many rooms and salons feature paintings of seascapes as well as military motifs like swords and flags. Since no provision was made for a heating system in the palace, it is inferred that the whole complex was designed as a summer palace.
The first Beylerbeyi Palace was wooden and built for Sultan Mahmud II (r. AH 1223–55 / AD 1808–39 by the architect Krikor Amira Balyan. The present Beylerbeyi Palace was designed and built under the auspices of the architects Sarkis Balyan and Agop Balyan, and on the orders of Sultan Abdülaziz between 1276 and 1281 / 1861 and 1865, after the original palace was abandoned following a fire during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid (r. AH 1255–77 / AD 1839–61). Over the years the Beylerbeyi Palace hosted many foreign guests; its last resident under the Ottoman Empire was Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. AH 1293–1327 / AD 1876–1909), who was dethroned. During the Republic period (after 1923) some sections of the palace were used to host state guests; these were opened to visitors in 1985 and renovated for various artistic activities. The Beylerbeyi Palace serves today as a palace museum linked to the National Palaces.

View Short Description

One of the most magnificent Ottoman coastal palaces, Beylerbeyi Palace is located on the Asian coast of the Bosphorus. It was commissioned by Sultan Abdülaziz and consists of the main palace structure and its auxiliaries. Its façade and interior decorations blend various Western influences with Eastern motifs. This summer residence is remarkable for its rich decoration and its two sea-pavilions on the water are the most striking and typical examples of Orientalism in Istanbul. It was opened to the public as a museum in 1984.

How Monument was dated:

Archival documents, inscriptions found on the monument, newspapers of the period, travel journals and the works of historians of the time are all useful in dating the monument. In addition, stylistic details of the palace complex provide important clues as to the period in which it was constructed.

Selected bibliography:

Batur, A., “Beylerbeyi Sarayı [The Beylerbeyi Palace]”, İstanbul Ansiklopedisi [Encyclopaedia of Istanbul], Vol. II, Istanbul, 1994, pp.206–10.
Eldem, S. H., Boğaziçi Anıları [Memoirs of Bosphorus], Istanbul, 1979.
Gülsün, H., Beylerbeyi Sarayı [The Beylerbeyi Palace], Istanbul, 1993.
Karahüseyin, G., “Beylerbeyi Sarayı ve ünlü Konukları [The Beylerbeyi Palace and its Famous Guests]”, Milli Saraylar Dergisi [Journal of the National Palaces], II (1992), pp.126–41.
Sözen, M., Devletin Evi Saray [The Palace, the House of the State], Istanbul, 1990.

Citation of this web page:

Semra Daşçı "Beylerbeyi Palace" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2024. 2024.;ISL;tr;Mon01;29;en

Prepared by: Semra DaşçıSemra Daşçı

Dr Semra Daşçı lectures on European art at the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. She was born in Istanbul in 1973. She graduated from the Department of Art, History of the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University in 1995. She completed her Master's at the same university with her thesis on “The Child Figure in 19th Century European Paintings” under the supervision of Prof. Dr Gül İrepoğlu. She completed her Ph.D. with a thesis entitled “Use of Architecture in the European Paintings of the Renaissance Period” under the supervision of the aforementioned professor in 2001. She started working as a research assistant at the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University in 1999. Her areas of interest include European art of painting from the Renaissance to the 19th century and the documentary aspect of art and Orientalism, on which she has published various research findings and work

Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood

Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions.
, İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu

İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.

Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: TR 42


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