You are here:Home/Resources/ Middle East Garden Traditions/ Browse the Catalogue/ Beşiktas & Dolmabahce Palace Garden

Beşiktas & Dolmabahce Palace Garden

 
Catalogue
Ottoman Gardens
City
Istanbul
Country
Turkey
Dates
16th century
Authors
Nurhan Atasoy;
Seyit Ali Kahraman

Description

As Karabali, Dolmabahçe, and Beşiktaş Gardens were so close to each other, sources containing information of them are often confused. Sometimes they are treated as a discrete units, and at other times as a whole.

Evliya Çelebi writes the following about Beşiktaş Garden: Before Bayezid became sultan, this was a paşa’s seaside residence, which later came into the possession of the sultans. Ahmed I had a pavilion here with seven domes built. He built houses with several stories and palaces along the shore. There was formerly a small cypress garden here. Osman II (1618–1622) ordered 20,000 shiploads of stone to be brought and thrown into the sea in front of Dolmabahçe, thus creating a 400-yard area which got the name “Dolmabahçe.” Evliya Çelebi identifies the builder of Beşiktaş Garden as Hayrettin Paşa, and the designed as Mimar Sinan.

On Dolmabahçe Garden, Evliya writes: Sultan Osman had a garden made on the extensive area where he used to play jereed. Selim I had a mansion built here with a pool but no other construction. There was a master gardener and 200 gardeners. As the garden was exposed to the southwest wind, the shore was lined with oak stumps and the space between was filled with stones, acting as a breakwater. It was on account of this that it got the name ‘Beşiktaş.’ The general list of gardens states that during the reign of Osman II there had been a building at Dolmabahçe, which was later destroyed.

Evliya Çelebi (Seyahantnâmesi, 1:144b) informs us that Murad IV gave this valley, which contained the palace at Beşiktaş as well as plane, willow, mastic, and walnut trees, to his favorite daughter, Kaya Sultan.

Sultan Ahmed had a more beautiful and more extensive mansion built here, which had seven domes, but he was not able to continue coming here. A delightful spring was found here, which falls into the fountain-pools. The palace was enlarged for a sum of 1,046 purses in 1679 by Ahmed III but remained half-finished at the sultan’s death. Apart from the Çinili Köşk, all the rest of it was enlarged or finished by Mahmud I (Naima III, 4).

The current Dolmabahçe Palace was built by Sultan Abdülmecid in an eclectic style following European fashion. The general design of the garden, reflected in the arrangement of the flowerbeds and the location of trees, is the work of the head gardener and aviary-keeper, Christian Sester, and his assistants Vensel, Koch, and Münika (?), who brought rare trees from abroad and adorned the garden with pools, statues, and birdcages.

 


The text for this entry is adapted from Nurhan Atasoy, Garden for the Sultan, 294–300.

 

Sources

  • Travel Account, 17th century
  • Court Chronicle, 17th century