The Emirgan Park (owned and administered today by the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul) is one of the biggest parks in Istanbul located in the Sarıyer district, on the European coast of the Bosphorus. It is said to be the most beautiful park in Istanbul, but in my opinion the Gülhane Park is way cozier (it is also on the European side of Istanbul and really worth visiting). Maybe you have noticed that in all the lists “What to visit in Istanbul” the Emirgan Park is somewhere in Top 10. It is really nice, full of colorful tulips (I do not know the exact number, but I believe there are thousands of them), amazing fountains, green picnic areas (also, picnic tables), playgrounds for kids and restaurants with a breathtaking view. Most of the park is full of families with kids, but you will also see some brides posing for their wedding pictures or girls jogging around (the jungle atmosphere and the routs are really good). If you have a free day and you are lazy as hell, then you should just go there and relax. And if you are lucky, you will see the swans (not only white)! Before visiting the park, it is a good idea to know more about its history. Maybe it would make you dream during the walk in the park or imagine all the history in there.
In the Byzantine era all 117 acres (470,000 m2 ) area was covered with cypress trees, by the mid-16th century became known as Feridun Bey Park, when the uninhabited land was granted to Nişancı Feridun Bey, a Lord Chancellor in rank in the Ottoman Empire. In the 17th century, Ottoman sultan Murad IV presented the estate to Emir Gûne Han, a Safavid Persian commander. The name “Feridun Bey Park” was changed to “Emirgûne”, which in time became corrupted to “Emirgan”. During the centuries, the owner of the park changed several times, and by the end of the 1860s, it was owned by Khedive Ismail Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Egypt and Sudan, who built within the park area three wooden pavilions, which still remain. The heirs of the Khedive’s family sold the estate in the 1930s to Satvet Lütfi Tozan, a wealthy Turkish arms dealer, who granted the park grounds, the three pavilions included, later in the 1940s to the City of Istanbul during office of Governor and Mayor Lütfi Kırdar. The three historic pavilions, called after their exterior color as the Yellow Pavilion, the Pink Pavilion and the White Pavilion were restored in time between 1979-1983 by the Touring and Automobile Club of Turkey under its CEO Çelik Gülersoy, and opened to the public as cafeteria and restaurant.
The Yellow Pavilion (Sarı Köşk) is a large wooden mansion built between 1871-1878 as a hunting lodge and guest house. Situated in the center of the park and overlooking the Bosphorus, the two-story mansion with one balcony, one terrace and a basement is constructed on an area of 400 m2. It consists of four rooms, one hall and a kitchen in the lower floor and three rooms and one salon in the upper floor. Its layout reflects the architecture of the traditional Ottoman house with a salon encircled by many living rooms. The ornaments at the ceilings and the walls were the work of the court architect Sarkis Balyan. The ceilings are enriched with oil painted flower figures and the facades with outstanding carvings. The high doors and windows, as well as the nice interior decorations in bright colors reflect the glory of that era. The pavilion was restored within four months in the beginning of the 1980s furnished with antiques and opened to the public as a cafeteria.
The Pink Pavilion (Pembe Köşk) is also a two-story, typical Ottoman house. Named after its exterior’s original color of pink, the pavilion reflects the glory of its history with fine ornaments. The pavilion is used as a cafeteria and is available for celebrations and wedding ceremonies.
The White Pavilion (Beyaz Köşk) is the third mansion which is only 150 meters far from the Yellow Pavilion. The two-story wooden building reminds us the neo-classical style. The mansion is used in the daytime as a cafeteria and in the evenings as a restaurant of Turkish-Ottoman cuisine.
The Emirgan Park is closely associated with the tulip, the traditional flower, which gave its name to an era (1718-1730) of the Ottoman Empire. A special garden was established in Emirgan Park in the 1960s. Since 2005, an annual international tulip festival is organized here every April making the park attractive and very colorful with these flowers.
If you still doubt, then you should just answer these questions
- Would you like to live in a kingdom of tulips?
- Would it be a breathtaking experience for you – to sit in a super old mansion with a cup of tea and enjoy the view of the Bosphorus?
- Would you like to capture the black and the white swans at once?
YES, YES, YES? Then go and enjoy!
Photo Credits: Ys-Atay