Ciragan Palace, located in Istanbul’s Besiktas district, is one of the best examples of a late Ottoman dynasty palace. It has been converted into a Kempinski 5-star hotel, but it remains an architectural marvel with significant historical and cultural significance. Anyone visiting Istanbul should see this magnificent palace, which has become a symbol of the city.
Ceragan, the palace’s neighborhood, was named after the Persian word for torch, cerag, because the famous Ottoman celebrations, the Ciragan Festivals, were held at night in tulip gardens lit by torches. Sultan Abdulmecit commissioned Armenian architect Nigogos Balyan to design this palace. The building on the European side of the Bosphorus, between the districts of Besiktas and Ortaköy, was built with loans obtained for the restructuring of Istanbul’s water system and the construction of a new railway. The project took approximately 12 years to complete. It was the Ottoman dynasty’s final residence.
In 1910, a fire broke out in the building’s central heating ducts, consuming the interior but leaving the exterior walls intact. However, thanks to renovations and a new hotel addition in the 1990s, it is now a luxury hotel and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, managed by Kempinski, one of the world’s largest hotel management companies. The most opulent hotel in Turkey has now opened its doors here. The complex’s other buildings are now used as classrooms. Inside the palace section, there is a magnificent restaurant with a view of the Bosphorus.
The Ciragan Palace was designed by Armenian palace architect Nigoayos Balyan and built by his sons Sarkis and Hagop Balyan between 1863 and 1867 during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz, the last of the Ottoman sultans to build his palace rather than rely on those of his forefathers. The floor, ceiling, and roof were all made of wood, while the exterior was made of marble in a variety of colors. A lovely marble bridge connects the palace to the Yildiz Palace on the hill behind it. The palace is separated from the rest of the world by a high garden wall. Work on the palace’s interior and exterior continued until 1872. On May 30, 1876, a few months after his dethronement, Sultan Abdulaziz was discovered dead in his beautiful palace. Sultan Murad V, his nephew, occupied the Ciragan Palace but reigned for only 93 days. He was deposed by his brother Abdul Hamid II, who claimed he was mentally unstable, and died while under house arrest on August 29, 1904.
Sultan Mehmed V granted permission for the Ottoman Parliament to meet in this building during the Second Constitutional Monarchy on November 14, 1909. However, just two months later, on January 19, 1910, the palace was destroyed by fire, with only the outer walls surviving. The adjacent garden, which had previously been used as a football field by the local club Beşiktaş J.K., was purchased in 1987 by a Japanese company, which restored the damaged palace and constructed a cutting-edge hotel complex in the adjacent garden. While the modern hotel building first welcomed guests in 1990, the renovated palace did not do so until 1992. It has been transformed into a five-star Kempinski hotel with luxurious rooms and two on-site restaurants for hotel guests.
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