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Contents / Seaside palaces

Adorning Istanbul’s shores with palaces was one of the Ottoman sultans’ greatest pleasures.

Almost all the Ottoman sultans took a close interest in Istanbul’s shores, decking the coasts of the Sea of Marmara, the two shores of the Bosphorus and of the Golden Horn, and the banks of Kagithane Stream (the Sweet Waters of Europe) with pavilions and palaces large and small. The first such palace, and historically speaking the third most important palace, is the summer palace at Üsküdar built by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent in 1555, which is also remembered as the ‘Kavak Sarayi’ or Poplar Tree Palace. Developing a preference for the European shore, the padishahs of subsequent centuries neglected this palace until Sultan Selim III had a building for troops erected here and the structure was converted into the Selimiye barracks. One feature of Kavak Sarayi was that it was readily accessible from Topkapi Palace by caïque.

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