Yildiz Palace which is the second biggest palace in Istanbul is situated in Beşiktaş district. Yildiz which covers an area of 500.000 square meters between Beşiktaş, Ortaköy and Balmumcu overlooking the Bosphorus is a grove dating back to the Byzantine period. The grove was called Kazancıoğlu Garden after the conquest of İstanbul by the Turks and has been included into the “Has Bahçe’s” of the Sultan during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I ( 1603-1617). There are more than one pavilions in this area which was popular during the reigns of Sultan IV. Murad (1623-1640) and III. Selim (1789-1807) as well. The Yıldız Palace was named after the “Yıldız” summer palace which Sultan Selim III had have built for his mother Mihrişah Valide Sultan. The main structure of the building which has been used as a palace since 19th century was built during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit II (1876-1909).
Abdülhamit II has governed the Ottoman Empire from here for 33 years. The palace comprising several buildings surrounding the courtyards is the last specimen of the Ottoman palaces. The palace is a three storey timber and stone building including basement. The floors of the chalet which comprises two seperate sections that could be used as Harem and Selamlık according to the Ottoman housing traditions which opens to the outer world with seven doors and windows with wooden shutters are connected to each other with elegant marble and wooden staircases. The land known as Yildiz Parkı today has been purchased during the reign of Abdülhamit II and thus the area on which the palace was erected was enlarged. It is known that Sultans and crown princes lived in the palace. Again it is known that the palace in which different sections such as a small mosque, a turkish bath, a theater, a drogery,a repair workshop, a carpenter atelier and a forge are situated was from time to time used by the last sultan of the Ottoman Empire, namely Sultan Mehmet Vahdettin. The chalet has been turned into a museum with its well kept gardens, glorious furnitures, carpets, decoration and ceramic heaters. The first attemps to turn the building into museum started in 1994. In 1994 the Palace Theater and Museum of Performing Arts were put into service and on April 8, 1994 the Yildiz Palace Museum was opened. The furnitures used in the palace are displayed in the carpenter atelier and costumes used during the Ottoman period are displayed in the theatre building. There is a big pool on the east of the palace extending between the Şale and Cihannüma pavilion. During the Republic period the Şale pavilion was for a short time run as a luxury casino and later it turned back to its original function as a guest house and opened its doors to eminent guests such as Sah Rıza Pehlevi of Iran, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Kıng Hussein of Jordan, President Sukarno of Indonesia, King Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and President Charles de Gaulle of France. Today Yildiz Şale pavilion is open to public as a museum-palace within the body of National Palaces related to the Parliament and receptions on national or international level are held in its garden. The Yıldız Palace museum is open everyday except Mondays and Thursdays between 09.30-16.00 from October to February and 09.30-17.00 from March to September.