“Linden trees”

On a sunny day in spring it’s well wort heading inland from the waterfront at Beşiktaş along Ortabahçe Caddesi to find the Ihlamur Kasrı (closed Mondays, admission TL130). This was designed by Nigoğayos Balyan for Sultan Abdülmecid I (r. 1839-61), who wanted a lodge where he could break the journey between Dolmabahçe Sarayı and the Golden Horn shipyards at Kasımpaşa. The end result was a pair of pavilions in a small landscaped park, one of which, the Mabeyn Köşkü, would host the sultan and his guests, while the other, the Maiyet Köşkü, would host his harem.

Like the slightly larger Küçüksu Kasrı, the Mabeyn Köşkü is thickly festooned with baroque carvings on the outside. Inside, however, it has only eight small rooms, each of them adorned with lovely parquet floors, porcelain fireplaces delicately painted with flowers and indigo-coloured glass. As at Küçüksu, there are no bedrooms since the sultan rarely spent the night at Ihlamur. Peacocks prowl the garden which is at its most magnificent in spring when the magnolias are in bloom.

Today, the steps leading up to the pavilion form the backdrop for myriad wedding photos since the Beşiktaş Registry Office is just across the road.

Facing Ihlamur Kasrı is a small hillside peace park with right beside it the Beşiktaş Cemevi, a place of worship for local Alevis. Walk up the slope to find the Suslu Karakol (Decorated Police Station, 1866), built on high during the resign of Sultan Abdülaziz to make it easier for the police to keep an eye on things. The overgrown park just beneath it contains two large inscription boards. Clearly Ottoman, they seem entirely forgotten.

Eating and drinking

The cafe in the Maiyet Köşkü is a delightful place for a coffee or light meal although on a sunny day you may be hard pressed to find a table inside or out.

Transport info

The best way to get to Ihlamur is from Beşiktaş although you could also approach from Maçka in the hills above. Either way you will probably end up with a 20-minute walk to reach the pavilion.



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