Yildiz Park, meaning “Star Park” (also called Yildiz Royal Gardens) is a historical, urban park in the heart of the city and one of the largest public parks in Istanbul. The park is located in Yıldız quarter between the palaces of Yildiz and Ciragan.
Yildiz Park was once part of the imperial garden of Yildiz Palace. Extending down the slopes from the palace, this walled park was reserved only for palace dwellers during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II.
The area of Yildiz used to be a forest in Byzantine times. Starting during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the sultans made it their hunting grounds. In the following centuries, it remained as a grove behind the seaside palaces. The neighbourhood began to flourish in the wake of construction of the palace in the 19th century. It took its name from the first pavilion, namely Yildiuz Kasri, commissioned by Selim III in the early 19th century.
The 25-acre (0.10 sq. km) of the palace's external garden were surrounded by high walls and detached from a grove during the reign of Abdulhamid II in the 19th century. A small artificial lake, pavilions, summer houses and a porcelain factory were established in this section.
Today, Yıldız Park is a beautiful garden complex with set in a very large park of flowers, plants and trees, gathered from every part of the world dating from the Ottoman era. Park grounds offer panoramic views of the Bosphorus. The park is a popular picnic place especially for the weekends. Two beautiful old pavilions, namely Çadır Köşk (Tent Kiosk) and Malta pavilion are used to rest, drink tea, eat breakfast and have lunch.
The park is separated into two sections, the outer section is open to the public and comprises the Şale (Chalet), Çadır (Tent) and Malta pavilions and the still-operating Yildiz porcelain factory. The vegetation of the park includes magnolia, bay leaves, Judas trees, silver limes and horse-chestnuts. Furthermore, the park shelters oak, cypress, pine, yew, cedar and ash trees. Besides, the outer section has two man-made lakes.
The best time to visit is in April, when the spring flowers (including thousands of tulips) are in bloom.
At the park's highest point is Yildiz Şale (Star Chalet Kiosk), built as a hunting lodge for Sultan Abdul Hamit II in 1880. The chalet is at the top of the hill, enclosed by a wall. After being expanded and renovated for the use of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1889, it underwent a second extension in 1898 to accommodate a huge ceremonial hall. After his imperial guest departed, Abdul Hamit became quite attached to his “rustic” creation and decided to live here himself, forsaking the palaces of Dolmabahce and Ciragan on the Bosphorus shore.
Yildiz Chalet Kiosk is a 60-room Ottoman imperial palace of wood and stone overlooking the Bosphorus.
The Malta Köşkü (Kiosk), that hosts now a restaurant and function centre. Built in 1870, this was where Abdul Hamit imprisoned his brother Murat V, whom he had deposed in 1876. The terrace has Bosphorus views, as does the upstairs dining room with its ornate ceiling and chandelier.
Çadır Köşkü (The Tent Kiosk) is a small palace-let by a placid pool complete with resident ducks. Hot and cold non-alcoholic drinks, snacks and light meals are served on the front terrace.
The Yildiz porcelain factory occupies a wonderful building designed by Italian architect Raimondo D'Aronco, who introduced the art nouveau style to Istanbul. You can visit the workshop inside. The showroom at the gate sells porcelain made here, including cups and saucers, whirling dervish figures and fun mugs depicting the Ottoman sultans.
MUSEUMS & SITES OF ISTANBUL
♦ Bosphorus Strait - A natural strait that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and separates Europe from Asia
♦ Beylerbeyi Palace - one of the most magnificent Ottoman coastal palaces built in 1865
♦ Dolmabahce Palace Museum - The 19th century glamorous palace of Ottoman Sultans
♦ Hagia Sophia of Istanbul - The Church of Holy Wisdom built in 535 by Emperor Justinian
♦ Hippodrome (Atmeydani) - The stadium of ancient Byzantium, which once could hold 100.000 spectators
♦ Topkapi Palace Museum - The former seating residence of Ottoman Sultans built between 1459 & 1465