The Residence and Office of Abdülhamid II: Yıldız Palace
Abdülhamid II chose Yıldız Palace as the administrative center after leaving Dolmabahçe Palace and spent thirty-three years there, making it a very meaningful place in the challenging process of the empire. He left Dolmabahçe Palace due to the dramatic events of his father Sultan Abdülmecid and his uncle Sultan Abdülaziz, and also because it was prone to sieges from sea and land. Abdülhamid moved here seven months after his ascension to the throne. Following this move, the compound formerly known as Yıldız Pavilion started to be referred to as Yıldız Saray-ı Hümâyûn, or Royal Palace of Yıldız.
The Transformation of the Pavilion Buildings
The first building in Yıldız Gardens was built upon the orders of Mihrişah Sultan, the mother of Sultan Selim III. In the following years Mahmud II, Sultan Abdülmecid and Sultan Abdülaziz also gave importance to the region, which experienced its peak during the reign of Abdülhamid II. The palace complex, which Abdülhamid was particularly interested in every detail of, expanded from year to year and its surface area reached five hundred thousand square meters in time.
Yıldız Palace as a Center of Culture and Crafts
Yıldız Palace, which was constructed as the administrative center of the state, reflects Sultan Abdülhamid II's political attitude. The modern and simple mentality of the architecture, the fact that each unit is located in separate buildings, reveals an understanding that puts the sultan as the absolute ruler of the state and preserves the distance between the rulers and the officials. This is in sharp contrast to the intertwined bureaucratic structure of the Dolmabahçe Palace. This architectural approach is similar to the tradition in Topkapı Palace. The high walls surrounding the palace are interpreted as a way of protecting the sultan and his family against possible threats.
In addition to being the administrative center of the state during the reign of Abdülhamid II, Yıldız Palace also became a cultural and craft center with the addition of many buildings and manufacturing facilities. The presence of a printing house, a photography workshop, a theater, a painting gallery, small museums, a music studio and an observatory describes the Yıldız Palace as a space dedicated to culture and art. On the other hand, a china factory was established in the palace for the production of tiles and porcelain products, another one of the interests of the sultan, and the palace became a production center where traditional culture was lived. The sultan sent gifts of china and porcelain produced here to the rulers of the countries he had befriended. Abdülhamid also displayed an interest in carpentry, having a specialized woodworking shop built on the compound, he personally produced many important works, especially in carving.
Sultan Abdülhamid II was forced to leave the Yıldız Palace in 1909. The Sultan, who was deposed and sent to Thessaloniki following the 31 March incident, never returned to Yıldız Palace after he arrived in Istanbul in 1912, spending the rest of his life in Beylerbeyi Palace.