Monday, 18 July 2011

A hidden gem

 On the northern shore of the Golden Horn in Istanbul there is a hidden gem, set in a park with rare magnolia and pine trees. Dating back some three hundred years, it was once a huge royal summer palace with balconies overhanging the water. Now there is just one pavilion left, which is still undergoing restoration. This is the Aynalikavak Kasri, the Pavilion of the Mirrored Poplars.

The dome over the main reception room indicates that it was used for official meetings. Step inside to discover an opulent and distinctly oriental magnificence. The overall effect is stunning and closer examination shows how much time and attention was lavished on the details, as in the wall panels and window decoration.


At the end of the Eighteenth century, Sultan Selim III liked to stay here. One room is called the Composition Room as he is thought to have worked on his music here.

He was a talented composer and in tribute to his contribution to Turkish music, this palace is now the State Music Museum, with a display of ancient instruments on the lower floor. There are occasionally open air concerts held here.

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