According to the travelers Kömürcüyan and İnciciyan, the area of the Beylerbeyi Palace was called “Istavroz Gardens” in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since the Byzantine period, many beautiful buildings have been built in the Beylerbeyi terrace. In the Ottoman times, this area was used for one of the Ottoman court gardens (Has Bahçe). The name “Beylerbeyi” comes from the waterside mansion, which was built by Mehmet Paşa, who was a Rumeli Beylerbeyi (“Commander of commanders” (governor-general) in the European side of the Ottoman Empire) during the reign of Sultan Murad III (1574-1595).
In 1863, Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876) ordered the architect Sarkis Balyan to build a new palace in the place of the burnt wooden palace during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839). It is known that more than 5000 workers worked to build the Beylerbeyi Palace. It took 4 years to complete the palace. The Beylerbeyi Palace was used as a summer residence, and hosted lots of foreign presidents and regal visitors such as the Serbian prince, King VIII Edward, the Iranian Shah Nasleddin, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Empress Eugenie of France visited Beylerbeyi Palace on the way to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. After Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876-1909) was dethroned by the government, he stayed at the Beylerbeyi Palace for six years until his death (1918).
The interior and outside of the palace is decorated with European and Eastern styles. The palace has three floors, and contains three entrances, six halls and 26 rooms. There are two volumes “Harem” and “Selamlık”. On the floors, Egyptian reed matting was used as a form of insulation. In the garden, there is a big pool, stables, and Selsebilli marble kiosk and a tunnel which is situated under the garden. After the declaration of the Republic, the Beylerbeyi Palace serves as a museum.
Reference: Beylerbeyi Sarayı (Istanbul: TBMM Milli Saraylar Daire Başkanlığı, 1993).
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):