"Mirrored Poplar"

Aynali1For many years the small late Ottoman palace at Aynalıkavak was closed to the public. It has now reopened and is well worth visiting even though to get to it you have to pass through a particularly rundown part of town where narrow pavements make walking less attractive than it is in other Golden Horn suburbs. 

During the Ottomen era the importance of the Golden Horn shipyards meant that there was a need for somewhere handy for the sultans to stay while visiting them. The answer lay in the early 17th century Tersane Sarayı (Shipyard Palace), originally built for Sultan Ahmed I, who liked to practice his archery in the Okmeydanı on nearby Hasköy Hill.

Sultan Ahmed III had the Aynalıkavak Kasrı (Pavilion) added to the palace to serve as a pied à terre within easy reach of the Kağıthane and Alibey streams (then the pleasure grounds known as the Sweet Waters of Europe) where he could throw his famous tulip-peeping parties.

In 1730 the palace lost its raison d'être with the overthrow of the sultan and his powerful grand vizier, Damat İbrahim Paşa, although it received a new lease of life in the late 18th century when the music-loving Sultan Selim III had it restored as a venue for private concerts. It was restored again during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808-39).

Today the only surviving part of the palace, the Aynalıkavak Kasrı (Pavilion of the Mirrored Poplars, closed Mondays and Thursdays, guided tours only) stands in delightful contrast with its generally shabby surroundings and offers a chance to appreciate the graciousness of 18th-century Ottoman interior decoration. 

Although there are only a handful of rooms inside the pavilion some served public and other private functions. The Arz Odası was where the sultan received his guests while the Divanhane was used for meetings of his ministers. One of the private rooms is believed to have been used for inspiration by Selim III, an accomplished composer.

A small museum of Ottoman musical instruments on the ground floor is a nod of recognition to Sultan Selim III. 

The wonderful grounds of the pavilion alone justify the small admission fee. To sit outside with a glass of tea or a cup of coffee is to believe yourself fleetingly in the grounds of a British country house. 

The tiles at the base of the Eyüp funicular on the other side of the Golden Horn depict the pavilion in its heyday, with the sultan watching acrobatics taking place on the water right in front of it. The images were copied from an early 18th-century book called the Surname which was produced by the miniaturist  Abdülcelil Levni Çelebi to commemorate the cirumcision party thrown for Sultan Ahmed III's sons.ayvali2Sultan Ahmed III watching water carnival on Golden Horn. Tile based on Surname from Eyüp funicular.

Transport info

You can get to Aynalıkavak using the Golden Horn ferry to Kasımpaşa or Hasköy and then continuing on foot or by bus/dolmuş.

Frequent buses and dolmuşes run along this stretch of the coast road from Taksim or the Sişhane Metro exit near Kasımpaşa.

Nearby areas




Read more about the Aynalıkavak area:  http://www.turkeyfromtheinside.com/blogbloggingaboutturkey/entry/19-behind-thegolden-horn-shipyards.html


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