Saturday, November 22, 2014

Yildiz Park and Pavilions.

Yildiz park is a wonderful place to while away a few hours. Many of the trees and shrubs are labeled to help you identify them, and you'll see squirrels foraging for nuts, and hear green parakeets screeching overhead.

Walls sorrownding the Park and connecting to Cirgan Palace.

The best way to reach the Park is to take a bus along the shore road from Kabatas (the end of the tram line from Sultanahmet) or up Barbaros Bulvari from Besiktas.  The Yildiz site falls into two separate parts.  The palace buildings are separated from the park and Chalet by a high wall and it's not possible to pass directly between the two sections; visitors are forced to divert all the way around the exterior of the park.  The main imperial complex and the museums are best accessed from Barbaros Bulvari in Besiktas, just after the Conrad Hotel, while the Yildiz Chalet and the surrounding park are accesible from the main entrance across the road from Cirgan Palace. 

Malta Pavilion.

The park contains two beautiful pavilions, both deigned by the ubiquitous Balyan brothers.  The finer of the two, the lovely Malta Pavilion was built during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz and became a prision for Sultan Murad V ad his mother after Murad was deposed in 1876.  It now houses a restaurant with stunning painted ceilings and great views over the Bosphorus. 

View's of the Bosphorus from Malta Pavilion upper floor.

The Sultan's Last Retreat

First there was the Esky Saray (Old Palace) on the Third Hill, near Beyazit Square.  Then came Topkapi Sarayi at Sarayburnu (Seraglio Point).  Then there was Domabahce Palace on the Bosphorus waterfront.   Finally the Ottoman sultans withdrew to the Yildiz (star) Palace as their empire gradually slipped away from them. 

Today Yildiz Park acts as one of the lungs of the city, a vast open space adorned with mature trees and shrubs, and dotted with historic buildings in an otherwise very built-up area.

Yildiz Park.

The wooded slopes of Besiktas Hill were left untouched well into Ottoman times when Sultan Ahmed I finally had a jasbahce (royal park) laid out around a small hunting lodge here. Covering 500,000 square meters of hillside, what is now Yildiz Park was originally laid out in the wary 19th century for Mirhrisah Sultan, the mother of Sultan Selim III, on land that originally formed the grades of the Cirgan Palace.

Yildiz Park park with picnic areas.

 Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries the park was slowly developed until it consisted of a complex of buildings and gardens on varying dates and styles more reminiscent of the layout of the Topkapi Palace than the Domabahce.

Buildings inside the park.

 Several of the buildings are now open to the public, who can, in any case, come here to explore the many paths and driveways, an to walk around a lake where wild animals were once kept on the island.  In 1980's the park was rescued and restored by the tireless Turkish Touring and Automobile Association although to has nous passed back into municipality hands.

Malta Pavilion

 The last  Ottoman sultan to wield absolute power, Abdulhamid II was nonetheless terrified of everyone and retreated to Yildiz Palace from the waterside palaces fearing an track from the Bosphorus.  Even then he was unable to relax.   The men who carried out the building work on the palace were not allowed to discuss the plans with each other, and the Sultan had some of the corridors blocked with stones to slow the progress of intruders.  Finally we has deposed in 1909 and exiled to Salonica whereupon the palace was plundered of many of its values.

Central fountain inside Malta Pavilion.

Centerpiece of the ground floor is what would once have been a magnificent indoor pool, its central fountain adorned with marble fish and swans; two more fountains against the wall have matching swan motifs.   Even the ladies' restroom is impressive as it retains the original marble washbasin; you can also examine, although not use, the original marble toilet.

Fountain agains the wall with swan motifs.

Stairs inside Malta Pavilion.

Painted ceilings inside  Malta Pavilion.

Ground floor salon of Malta Pavilion.

Main Salons upper floor Malta Pavilion.

Self portrait.

Upper floor salon of Malta Pavilion. 

Gardens and outdoor restaurant.

Garden resturant.

Views of the Bosphorus.

Woods of Yildiz Park.

The Yildiz Woods are the perfect place for a photo sessions.  During our visit we had the opportunity to see three couples photo sessions.  The outfits are really different and its just a sample of the variety of Turkey's people and traditions.

Wedding photo session.

Wedding photo session.

Wedding Photo Session.

Unfortunately the Yildiz Palace main building was under restoration and we could not see the imperial complex.  The Chalet and museums are all closed on Mondays and Thursdays but you can always enjoy a walk on the Park and even a brunch at the restaurants.  On Sundays the Malta Pavilion is a great place to come for a brunch with a view and not too scary prices.   

"Wednesday in Istanbul" Group.  

 So there is always a good reason to come back to this beautiful park.   As of now I hope you enjoy the views!

Soreya Reyes

Twitter:  @street_photos_

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