Aynalıkavak Palace, located in the Golden Horn, is the fourth largest Ottoman palace in Istanbul following the palaces in Dolmabahçe, Topkapı and Üsküdar. Also known as the Tersane Palace due to the shipyard in the region, the only remaining structure from the palace today is the Aynalıkavak Pavilion. The grove in the area, believed to be the resting grounds of emperors during the Byzantine era, sprawling across the vast region between Okmeydanı, Hasköy and Kasımpaşa. The region is also known as the Royal Gardens of Shipyard due to the surrounding shipyard.
According to some sources, the construction of the buildings began during the reign of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. Another comment is that the complex gained its identity as a palace during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. Hafiz Hussein Ayvansarâyî’s work “Hadikatüʹl‐cevâmi” claims that Suleiman the Magnificent had many structures built in this grove, including several pavilions and ponds. New buildings were added in the following period, their number increasing from year to year.
18th Century Traditional Ottoman Architecture
The pavilion, which was positioned away from the sea due to the expansions to the surrounding shipyard during the reigns of Selim III, Mahmud II and Abdülhamid II, is one of the rare and distinguished examples of Ottoman architecture. Displaying the traditional characteristics of 18th century Ottoman architecture, the pavilion has five rooms and an anteroom, along with an audience hall where guests were received. Sultan Selim III's gold gilded monogram is placed at the ceiling skirt of the Divanhane section of the palace. The 54 couplet poem written by Enderūnî Fāzıl about Aynalıkavak Pavilion was engraved by calligrapher Yesârîzâde Mustafa İzzet Efendi on the windows. In the Hasoda part of the pavilion, another poem of 36 couplets by Sheikh Galib, one of the most famous poets of the period, is displayed, again engraved by Yesârîzâde Mustafa İzzet Efendi.
Aynalıkavak Pavilion is one of the most elegant legacies of classical Ottoman architecture that has survived to the present day, with its wide fringed roof, elegant seatings used in decoration, skylights made by placing glass pieces in plaster carvings and details reflecting typical appreciations of the era.
Music at the Aynalıkavak Pavilion
The building was restored during the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid, passed under the auspices of the National Palaces in 1975, becoming a museum-palace in 1984 and opened for visitation after the final restoration and refurbishing in 2010.
The lower floor of the pavilion has been transformed into a museum displaying historical Turkish musical instruments, in accordance with Sultan Selim III's interest in music. Turkish Music Instruments Exhibition, which includes musical instruments such as kemençe, violin, bendir, ney, tambour and oud, is organized with a spirit that clearly demonstrates the atmosphere of the period.