Büyük Saray-ı Hümâyûn
The construction of the Çırağan Palace, commissioned to Sarkis Balyan, was completed in 1871, eight years after construction had started. It covers the area of 76,400 m2 (664m X 115m).
It was built in an eclectic style with an Eastern flair, mainly North African. The architectural style was inspired by Alhambra, the 14th to 16th century Moorish palace complex in Granada, Spain. It was also influenced by Seljuk architecture.
The lily motives on the columns of the façade were picked by Sultan Abdülaziz during his travel to Egypt. The lily symbolizes royalty and power, which were important values for Abdülaziz. From floors to the hamam, octagonal star figures were often used.
The distinctive columns on the façade gives the palace a classical look. The finest marbles, porphyries, mother-of-pearl, furniture and other valuable materials were transported from all over the world especially for the palace.
The exterior and interior design of the palace was perfectly harmonized, based on the original design. Architecturally, it is one of the best structures among its contemporaries in Europe. The two-floor building with additional ground floor covers an area of 10,000 m2. There was no central heating in this palace, instead heated by stoves and open-topped stoves.
Based upon their admiration, Sultan Abdülhamid II presented one of Çırağan‘s priceless doors to Emperor Wilhelm II and Empress Augusta Victoria of Germany during their state visit to Istanbul in October 1889. The ornamented doors of the palace, then worth 1000 gold coins, were made by Vortik Kemhacıyan. It is now exhibited in the Berlin Museum.
The fire, fueled by strong winds from the Bosphorus, started on 6 January 1910 on the roof, and destroyed the interior of the splendid building within five hours. Exquisitely carved marble exterior walls were so strong that they resisted the fire. Today, the interiors were reconstructed in 19th century Ottoman style, and the restored original exteriors of the palace proudly represent the Empire on the most beautiful section of the Bosphorus.
Eugénie and Abdülaziz
Empress Eugénie de Montijo (1853-1871), the last French Empress and the wife of Emperor Napoleon III, went to Egypt to attend the inauguration of the Suez Canal in November 1869 without her husband. Emperor Napoleon III, unable to be present at the inauguration because of health and political problems, stayed in Paris. “The Empress Eugénie is expected to visit Constantinople in September 1869”, the New York Times quoted. On her way to the Suez Canal, Eugénie visited Istanbul where she was an honorary state guest of Sultan Abdülaziz. She resided in Beylerbeyi Palace.
Eugénie and Abdülaziz knew each other, as they had met two years before in Paris, where she had a crush on him. The Çırağan Palace was still under construction during her visit. Upon the order of Abdülaziz, architect Sarkis Balyan had completed an extraordinarily beautiful marble hamam with the view of the Bosphorus, and made it ready before she arrived. When Eugénie came to Istanbul, the only finished section of the Çırağan Palace was the hamam. Abdülaziz invited Eugénie to see the new palace in Çırağan. They both walked up to the hamam through the construction. It was like going to heaven through hell. That moment became one of the most memorable times for them, together with the Bosphorus in the background. After Eugénie left Istanbul, Abdülaziz was silent for quite some while.
Eugénie admired the elegance of the Beylerbeyi Palace, especially, the window frames in the Palace’s guest room. Abdülaziz gave her a copy of the window as his present. Eugénie placed it in her bedroom in Tuileries Palace, in Paris. In later years, when she looked outside through her bedroom window, nobody knew what she saw on the horizon.
Imperial Bath (Hünkâr Hamamı)
Today, the magnificent hamam with its white marble floors and exquisitely carved walls, and doorways is still kept in its original form. The hamam, the favorite part of the Kempinski Hotel, can be reserved for private receptions.
The two-floor building with additional ground floor sits upon an area of 6,200 m2. It has 14 rooms.
Today, it is occupied by Beşiktaş High School.
Ağalar Building - (Ağalar Dairesi)
The two-floor building with additional ground floor sits upon an area of 2,400 m2.
Today, it is occupied by the Four Seasons Hotel.