- What’s On
Newly opened to the public after years of restoration, followed apparently by use by state grandees, this is one of the most remarkable of the 19th-century Neoclassical palaces on the Bosphorus. Built by Kavalalı Mehmet Ali Pasha, it was given to Sultan Abdülaziz as a gift by his son Said Pasha in 1866. The architects are once again the Balyan family, who were responsible for the Beylerbeyi, Çırağan and Dolmabahçe Palaces, to name but a few.
Today, the palace is worth visiting for its location overlooking the broad sweep of Beykoz Bay, its history (this was the setting for the Hünkar İskele treaty with Russia), and for its powerful architecture. Much of the garden is still out of bounds, including a hauntingly beautiful shell-encrusted grotto.
The restoration of the building looks faultless, though a hideous red carpet on the parquet of the upstairs reception room should be replaced by invisible protection. Sadly, the furniture and hangings are in unbecomingly vulgar, either brand new and inappropriate or else wildly over-restored. What a shame. The Milli Saraylar are sitting on untold treasures in basements along the Bosphorus, left to decay in dank cellars. This would have been the ideal setting in which to display them. Maybe something to look forward to.