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The largest – and most majestic – park in Istanbul, this is a place steeped in history. It was once part of the imperial gardens of the Yıldız Palace and in Byzantine times, it was part of a forest. During the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent, it was used as a hunting ground. Walking into the park is like being transported to another time. Full of grand trees, vegetation (including magnolia, bay leaves, Judas trees, silver limes and horse chestnuts), bridges and plenty of space for resting and having picnics, the former sultans’ playground is now accessible to be enjoyed by all.
The park features three beautiful, imperial kiosks – Çadır Köşkü, Malta Köşkü and the palatial Şale Köşkü (Chalet Kiosk). The first two were used as hunting lodges in Ottoman times and are now both restaurants owned by the municipality. Each was designed in the Neo-Baroque style by architect Sarkis Balyan (who was a favourite of the sultans in this period, and whose notable works include the Beylerbeyi Palace and the Çırağan Palace) and completed in the late 19th century. This is where you can get a taste of sultan life and start your Sunday morning with a buffet breakfast featuring every type of breakfast food imaginable. In terms of the view, Çadır has a lake and Malta has the Bosphorus – the choice is yours.
Start your journey from the entrance of the park on Çırağan Caddesi. A steepish climb takes you to a sign for Çadır Köşkü in a few minutes (turn left and walk for another five to 10 minutes to reach this pavilion). A 15-minute walk up gets you to a fork in the road. Left is another path to Çadır Köşkü in case you missed it the first time and right leads you to other delights. In a few minutes, you will reach the Şale Köşkü, which is a 60-room pavilion built of wood and stone and is now a museum housing a collection of exquisite carpets and furnishings. About five minutes after that, you come to the Malta Köşkü and another few minutes after that, you will reach the top peak of the park and the Yıldız Porcelain Museum.
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