Beylerbeyi Palace, summer residence of the sultans, is located at Beylerbeyi neighborhood on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. It was ordered by the sultan Abdulaziz and built between 1861-1865 by head architects Sarkis Balyan and Agop Balyan, imperial architects of Armenian origins, in French neo-baroque style with a traditional Ottoman house plan. Important foreign guests visiting the Ottoman Empire were accommodated in this palace during the summer months; Prince of Serbia, King Nicholas of Montenegro, Emperor Joseph of Austro-Hungary, Shah Nasireddin of Iran, Prince Oscar of Sweden, and Empress Eugenie of France were some of them. Sultan Abdulhamid II spent the last 6 years of his life and died here in 1918, meanwhile other sultans ruled in the Dolmabahce Palace during winter months and came here only for the summer for a nice climate.
The palace has a rectangular plan with the long side facing the Bosphorus. There are 6 large halls and 24 rooms on two floors raised on a service basement which was originally used as a kitchen and storage. The palace is divided into mens' section (Selamlik) and womans' section (Harem) having separate entrances for both. The Selamlik was used for State functions therefore was very ornate, meanwhile the Harem was reserved only to the ladies and with a simple decoration.
Besides the Ottoman House plan, everything in the palace is symmetrical and have a very European look, including most of the furniture, chandeliers, and other decorations. Outside is made of stones and marble, and inside with brick walls and wooden floors. The floors are covered with rush matting from Egypt against humidity in winter and heat in summer. There are also large Hereke type carpets decorating the floor. Bohemian crystal chandeliers, French clocks, and Chinese, Japanese, French and Turkish porcelain vases are decorating the rest. There are many oil paintings on the walls describing naval scenes, and Arabic inscriptions on the ceiling. The Hall with the oval pool and the Blue Hall (or Ceremonial Hall) are the most interesting state halls, meanwhile the Admirals' Room on the ground floor is the most intriqute one. There wasn't any heating in the palace because it was never planned to be used during cold winter months.
The gardens are full of different kind of trees, with a great view of the Bosphorus, and two small sea kiosks by the pier which were used by the sultans to have their tea or coffee enjoying the ships and boats passing. Behind the palace there is an old tunnel and a terraced garden with two pavilions: Sari (Yellow) Kiosk by the pool on the upper terrace, and the Mermer (Marble) Kiosk with its interior fountain and marble walls. Ahir (Stable) Kiosk was reserved for the sultans' horses, is a long rectangular building with a small marble pool and twenty stalls, and with paintings of horses decorating the entrance ceiling.
The palace gardens are available for private receptions upon advance application to the Ministry of Tourism.
Please note that you're not allowed to take any photos or film inside the palace building.
Open daily between 09:30-16:00, except on Mondays and Thursdays, on January 1st, and on the first day of religious holidays.
Please note that admission fees, opening times or days of closure of the museums might be changed without prior notice, or that museum or section might be closed for restorations. To be certain on the closure days or opening times, you can call that museum directly (country code for Turkey is +90) or contact me to double check. Most of the museums have longer opening hours during summer months.
Hope to see you soon in Istanbul.