Gülhane Park was once the outer garden of Topkapı Palace, accessible only to the royal court. These days crowds of locals come here to picnic under the many trees, promenade past the formally planted flower beds, and enjoy wonderful views of the Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara and Princes’ Islands from the Set Üstü Çay Bahçesi on the park’s northeastern edge. The park is especially lovely during the İstanbul Tulip Festival, when tulips are arranged to resemble nazar boncuk ‘evil eye’ charms. Green-fingered beautification has brought improvements to walkways and amenities, and the park has seen the opening of the İstanbul Museum of the History of Science & Technology in Islam
(İstanbul İslam Bilim ve Teknoloji Tarihi Müzesi; 0212-528 8065; www.ibttm.org ; Has Ahırlar Binaları, Gülhane Park; adult/child under 12yr ₺10/free; hour :9am-6.30pm Wed-Mon mid-Apr–Oct, to 4.30pm Nov–mid-Apr, last entry 30 min before closing; Gülhane).
Next to the southern entrance is the Alay Köşkü (Parade Kiosk), now open to the public as the Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Literature Museum Library (Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Edebiyat Müze Kütüphanesi; 0212-520 2081; Gülhane Park; hour: 10am-7pm Mon-Sat; Gülhane).
Across the street and 100m downhill from the park’s main gate is an outrageously curvaceous rococo gate leading into the precincts of what was once the grand vizierate, or Ottoman prime ministry, known in the West as the Sublime Porte (Alemdar Caddesi; Gülhane) thanks to this flamboyant entrance. Today the buildings beyond the gate hold various offices of the İstanbul provincial government (the Vilayeti).