The Aynalıkavak Mansions


Aynalıkavak Pavilion is the sole remaining building from a large Ottoman palace known  as Aynalıkavak Palace or Tersane palace, dating back to the 17th century. This pretty building on the shore or the Golden Horn is a reminder that this now built-up area was for centuries a place parks, meadows and streams where the Ottoman sultans and before them the Byzantines came for country excursions.

After the Turkish conquest of İstanbul this attractive stretch of countryside stretching inland from the Golden Horn became an imperial park known as the Tersane Hasbahçe after the naval arsenal at neabry Kasımpaşa.

The earliest known building here dates from the reign of Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617), and his successors added new country lodges over the centuries, until the entire complex became so large that is was referred to as Tersane or Aynalıkavak Palace.

Aynalıkavak Pavilion is one of these buildings, thought to date originally from the reign of Sultan Ahmed III (1703-1730), although extensive alterations under Selim III (1789-1807) transformed its appearance radically.The principal rooms are a reception room known as the Divanhane and the smaller Music Room. Bands of exquisite calligraphic decoration around the windows of these two rooms consist of verses by two famous poets, Şeyh Galib and Enderûni Fâzıl, in praise of the pavilion and Selim III. These talik inscriptions were designed by the calligrapher Yesari.

In terms of its architecture and decoration Aynalıkavak Pavilion is a rare and outstanding example of classical Ottoman architecture. This small building is only one storey, with a basement under the section facing the sea. The pavilion is of additional interest because of its strong associations with Sultan Selim III, a respected composer. The traditional fitted seats or sedir along the walls and settees resembling sedir, braziers, lamps and other contemporary furnishings reflect a way of life which has disappeared entirely today.

Today as an appropriate tribute to Sultan Selim III, who is a major figure of Turkish classical music, the basement of Aynalıkavak Pavilion houses an exhibition of Turkish musical instruments donated by various individuals and institutions, together with photographs of antique instruments at Topkapı Palace Museum. In summer the pretty gardens and cafeteria attract many visitors, as do the Aynalıkavak Concerts of classical Turkish art music. Private receptions are held in the gardens here.