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Sultan Abdülaziz had a passion for the sea and for the Ottoman navy, which in his reign grew to become the third largest in the world. He also added to the Empire’s debts by investing in palace building in stone and marble, notably this summer residence and guesthouse overlooking the sea on the Anatolian shore. Designed by Sarkis Balyan and his brother, Agop, Beylerbeyi was ready in 1864 after just three years (musicians kept up the builders’ flagging spirits). The brothers also built the two small octagonal seaside pavilions with curved roofs imitating tents.
The palace’s exterior, graced with numerous columns, has carved garlands of fig and quince. Inside, allusions to the sea abound: ships in the ceiling frescoes, knots in the gilt plaster, and a dolphin fountain in the Havuzlu (Pool) Room.
The Mavi (Blue) Room has bright blue stucco lustro columns all the way round. Abdülaziz himself carved one of the chairs in the lovely Inlaid Pearl Room. The Empress Eugenie, who stayed for nearly three months, must have loved it. – Claire Karaz
In Cornucopia 52, a six-page spread introduces readers to Abdülaziz’s gloriously unmissable summer palace.
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