The Yildiz Palace Complex is comprised of pavilions, kiosks, park areas, a museum, and a theater. It was opened to tourism in 1994, but as of 2018, it been CLOSED for renovations.
Sultan Abdulhamid lived in residence here for 33 years and was the seat of the Ottoman Government at the time. While currently closed for renovations, it’s believed that the palace complex will again open its doors in the Spring of 2020 or 2021.
The complex grounds once covered an area of 500,000 square meters, which dotted the hillside overlooking the Bosphorus Strait between Beşiktaş, Ortaköy, and Balmumcu.
The natural woodland area was once known as Kazancıoğlu Park and formed most of what is Yildiz Park is today. The area of grounds was separated from the palace for tourism many years ago and remains open to the public today.
A history past which dates to the mid-1600s surrounds the story of Yildiz Palace and below, we chronicle the major changes throughout the years.
The history of the Palace dates back to the 17th century. It was an imperial estate during the reign of Sultan Mahmud 1. He built a small pavilion which he presented to his daughter Kaya Sultan (1640).
Between 1789 and 1807, Sultan Selim III built a summer palace and named it Yildiz.
During the reign of Sultan Mahmud II, a small pavilion was formed to watch the exercises of the army. But in 1861, Sultan Abdulmecid ordered the demolishing of the building to build a new pavilion for the mother.
In 1876, the pavilion was renovated and new ones were built. The Cadir pavilion, Buyuk Mabeyn, Malta Pavilion, and Sale Pavilion became what is known today as Yildiz Palace.
In 1877, Sultan Abdulhamid decided to move to the palace together with the Ottoman administration. This palace complex housed thousands of people including barracks, porcelain factory, museum, library, repair shop, carpenter’s shop, and the Yildiz Theater.
A few years later, Sultan Abdulhamid was dethroned by the government and all the precious objects and furniture were ravaged.
After the deposition of Sultan Abdulhamid, the library remained. This is where the photographs and manuscripts were preserved.
The government renovated the palace and it was used as a luxury casino. Then it became a guest house for heads of states.
In the early 1990s, the Turkish Government opened the palace to the public and turned it into a museum.
In 2018, Yildiz Palace was closed for renovations under mysterious circumstances that have been publically stated to be renovations.
Armed guards now patrol the gates, offering little information to tourists other than saying, the palace is closed.
Yildiz Palace Museum
The palace museum opened its doors to the public in 1994 and closed them (temporarily?) in 2018 for renovations.
The main draw was the large gallery (90 meters in length) that displayed the reign of Abdul Hamid II.
The museum also had valuable objects and artworks, carpenter tools and other products from the Yildiz Porcelain factory. Valuable, historic furniture that held the butts of Istanbul’s finest could be found in the rooms.
During the summer season (April 15th to 1st November), Yildiz Palace Museum was normally open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. In winter (1st November to 15th April), it was open from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Until the renovation label is lifted, it’s unclear if the museum will ever be re-opened to the public or how much they will charge for entrance.
Tickets used to cost 10 TL.
Yildiz Palace Theater
The theater gallery can house 150 people and the elevated boxes supported the columns while the walls had a gold color. Today, the original costumes from days long past are exhibited throughout.
Because the audience was not allowed to have their back to the Sultan, the first row seats were never used. The private boxes of the Sultan, as well as his family, were placed on the opposite side of the stage.
Constructed in 1889, the Yildiz Palace Theater is only the royal theater that remains intact. It also maintains the honor of being the first to show moving pictures in the Ottoman Land.
During the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the Imperial leather was the main venue for entertainment. He formed a group that only performed for prominent locals and Europeans.
In 1893, Italian Arturo performed for Abdulhamid and loved the performance. As a sign of gratitude, he became the director of the theater.
The admission fee to the theater is 20 TL for adults and 5 TL for students.
During the summer, it used to open at 9:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM. In winter, it used to open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The theater is generally closed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Until further notice, it’s assumed the theater is fully CLOSED along with the rest of the Yildiz Palace grounds.
Know Before You Go
- Yildiz Palace is now closed to the public for supposed renovations.
- Guards stand at the gate and turn aside tourists without rhyme or reason.
- Unless otherwise notified, this closure might be permanent.
- It’s been rumored the new President has taken it over the palace grounds for his own personal use.