Çırağan Palace Garden (MEGT)
Istanbul, Türkiye
The area known as Kazancıoğlu, which had become an imperial estate, was given by Murad IV to his daughter, Kaya Sultan, who built a seaside palace there. In the reign of Ahmed III, this palace became famous for its illuminations during Çerağan, or the festival of light. The tulip gardens and entertainments accompanying this festival are described in the twelve-page Tuhfe-i Çerağan, which recounts the history and origins of this celebration. During the reign of Ahmed III, his daughter Fatma, and her husband, Grand Vizier İbrahim Paşa, held a festival of light. The garden of the palace was illuminated with candles and lanterns, and so it became known as Çırağan Palace. Raşid Efendi describes a reception given there for the sultan in 1720:
During this season, the indescribable beauty of the tulips blooming in the flower gardens was an occasion for Grand Vizier Damat İbrahim Paşa to order a festival of light to be held at the seaside palace of Beşiktaş. Different varieties of candles, lamps and lanterns were placed among the flowerbeds. Whatever was necessary to honor the sultan was performed. On the morning of 26 April 1720, the sultan, with his entourage and harem, came there and spent the day being entertained by music and conversation; in the evening there was a festival of light in the tulip garden.
The grand vizier made generous gifts of jewels and gold to the sultan and his harem when they left. Fine horses wonderfully caparisoned were presented and innumerable presents given in accordance with the rank of the recipient. Not one of the entourage was left out, from the ağas to the servants, and each received a suitable present. Everyone went away pleased, with prayers and praise. From here the sultan went to his mother’s palace at Eyüp. (Eski Türk bahçeleri, 26–27.)
These candlelit festivities were very extravagant. At the April full moon in particular, the tulip celebrations were unrivaled. Vases full of tulips were set in rows, colored globes were placed between them, and caged nightingales were hung above them. Entertainment for the ministers of state and for the harem were provided on different nights; the concubines would scatter to all four corners of the garden looking for sweetmeats hidden among the flowers. Mahmud I, Ahmed III’s nephew and successor after Ahmed was deposed, continued these entertainments in spite of protests.
Mahmud I, who had the palace and gardens enlarged, stayed here from time to time. The palace passed to Selim III's sister, Beyhan Sultan, who sold it to her brother. Selim III enlarged it by annexing the building next to it and had it repaired. Mahmud II, who came to the throne next, often came here in summer and it was during this time that Çırağan gained its character as a palace.
Abdülaziz had this building torn down and built the new Çırağan Palace there between 1863 and 1871. Until recently, only the walls of this building remained, as it burned down in 1910. It was restored in 1987 as a hotel. The garden of Çırağan Palace was constructed according to western taste, with pools and conservatories imported from England. Sultan Abdülaziz had cages for lions constructed and imported animals to stock a small zoo. Flowerbeds were also made for Çırağan Palace. The Mabeyn Dairesi gardens, which stretched from Yıldız Palace to Mecidiye Mosque in Yıldız Park, were full of tulip beds. This was connected to the palace by a bridge over the present road.
Selman Can describes this last example of palace gardens in summarizing his research into the design of Çırağan Palace: Çırağan Palace possessed a large, well-landscaped garden. The woods here had always seemed like a natural garden to the buildings along the shore. However, we see that it became an imperial garden after Mahmud II built the old Çırağan Palace there. These woods were connected to the new Çırağan Palace by the bridge over the Beşiktaş–Ortaköy road constructed during the building of the palace itself. During those years, a number of buildings were built in the woods themselves. Malta Köşkü was built, Yıldız Kasrı repaired and new stables built while terraces and roads were also constructed (Belgelerle Çırağan Sarayı, 29–32).
The text for this entry is adapted from Nurhan Atasoy, Garden for the Sultan, 301–2.

Source: Travel Account, 17th century | Travel Account, 17th century | Travel Account, 18th century | Travel Account, 19th century

-Nurhan Atasoy, Seyit Ali Kahraman


A Garden for the Sultan: Gardens and Flowers in the Ottoman Culture (Open in Zotero)

Eski Türk bahc̦eleri ve özellikle eski İstanbul bahc̦eleri (Open in Zotero)

Belgelerle Çırağan Sarayı (Open in Zotero)

Originally published at: Atasoy, Nurhan, and Seyit Ali Kahraman “Çırağan Palace Garden.” Middle East Gardens Traditions. Dumbarton Oaks, December 1, 2014. https://www.doaks.org/resources/middle-east-garden-traditions/catalogue/C98. Archived at: https://perma.cc/5UDZ-R9BM.

Istanbul, Türkiye
Associated Names
Associated Collections
Dates of attested life: 16th century
Date of entry of information: August 2007
Style Periods
Variant Names
Çırağan Palace Garden
Building Usages