Küçüksu Summer Palace
The earliest settlements date back to the Byzantine period in this quaint area of the Bosphorus, where the Küçüksu Pavilion is located. Sultan Murad the Fourth (1623-1640) was very fond of Küçüksu and its surroundings, which was one of the private gardens of the sultan under the name “Lantern Garden”. Murad the Fourth named this location the “Silver Cypress”. Beginning in the 17th century, the region, which was then called “Bağçe-i Göksu”, has been densely constructed, especially from the turn of the 18th century. During the reign of Sultan Mahmud I (1730-1754), Divittar Mehmed Pasha built a two-story wooden palace on the seashore of the Sultan’s Private Garden. This building was also used during the reigns of Selim the Third (1789-1807) and Mahmud the Second (1808-1839) after undergoing repairs.
During the period of Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861), Western architecture was preferred in building palaces and pavilions. Sultan Abdülmecid requested that certain architectural innovations be employed in the constructions of Dolmabahçe and Ihlamur. He wanted the same for the Küçuksu Pavilion whereby the old, wooden structure was demolished and replaced with the present day villa.
The architect of the new Küçüksu Palace, which was commissioned in 1857, was Nikogos Balyan. The pavilion was built with three floors including a basement. It sits on an area of 15 meters by 27 meters employing load bearing masonry walls. The basement is divided into a cellar, kitchen and servant area, other floors are arranged with four rooms opening to a central hallway. This structure reflects the traditional Turkish house used typically for resting and game hunting, in the character of a equestrian pavilion. In contrast to other palaces owned by the state, it is not surrounded by high walls, but by elegant cast iron fencing with gates facing four directions. During the period of Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876), the facade decorations were overhauled, annexes from the old palace which were used for various functions have disappeared over time, yet the main building has survived to the present day thanks to periodic repairs.
Hints of Western influence can be viewed on the seafront facade decorated with reliefs, and at the small pond with a fountain leaning on this facade, and also on the stairs. The rooms and halls were furnished with valuable works of art and Sechan, the decorator of the Vienna Opera, had been commissioned for this project. Küçüksu Pavilion is a unique art museum with its ceilings decorated with gypsum relief and pen work, fireplaces made of precious Italian marbles in different colors (reminiscent of a fire place museum), finely crafted and ornamented parquet floors, furnitures in various European styles, carpets and paintings. It was used as a public guesthouse in the Republic period for a while and presently has the status of museum-palace.