Yıldız Park


in The Bosphorus Suburbs

This large and leafy retreat is alive with birds, picnicking families and young couples strolling hand in hand. 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 Yıldız Şale, built as a hunting lodge for Sultan Abdül Hamit II in 1880, but closed to the public at the time of research.

The şale (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, Abdül Hamit became quite attached to his 'rustic' creation and decided to live here himself, forsaking the palaces of Dolmabahçe and Çırağan on the Bosphorus shore.

Around 500m past the turn-off to Yıldız Şale, you'll come to the Malta Köşkü, now an unlicensed restaurant and function centre. Built in 1870, this was where Abdül 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.

If you continue walking past the Malta Köşkü for 10 minutes, you'll arrive at the Yıldız Porselen Fabrikası. This factory occupies a wonderful building designed by Italian architect Raimondo D'Aronco, who introduced the art nouveau style to İstanbul.

The steep walk uphill from Çırağan Caddesi to the şale takes 15 to 20 minutes. If you come to the park by taxi, have it take you up the slope to the şale.