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Gulhane Park

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Gülhane Park: Istanbul's Historic Green Oasis

Once the park of the Topkapi Palace, crowds of locals now come to Gulhane Park at weekends to enjoy its shade. Do as the locals do and head to the north end of the park to the Set Üstü Çay Bahçesi, with superb views over the Bosphorus. 

Gulhane Park’s history dates back to the Byzantine era, and it was later transformed into an imperial garden by the Ottomans. It was part of the grounds of the Topkapi Palace, serving as the royal family’s private garden for centuries.

Today, Gulhane Park offers a peaceful respite from the urban chaos, with its tree-lined pathways, colorful flowerbeds, and picturesque fountains. The park’s diverse vegetation, including towering plane trees, cypress trees, and vibrant blooms, provides a refreshing contrast to the city’s historic and architectural grandeur.

To the left of the south exit is a bulbous kiosk built into the park wall. Known as the Alay Köşkü (Parade Kiosk), this is where the sultan would sit and watch the periodic parades of troops and trade guilds commemorating great holidays and military victories. It now houses a museum dedicated to Islamic art and is a delightful spot to explore.  It contains the Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Museum Library.

Across the street Alayköşkü (not quite visible from the Gülhane gate) is an outrageously curvaceous rococo gate leading into the precincts off what was once the Grand vizierate,  or Ottoman prime ministry, known in the west as the Sublime Porte. Today the buildings beyond the gate hold various government offices.

Gulhane park’s prime location near several of Istanbul’s most famous attractions, including the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, makes it a natural starting point for exploring the city’s historic district. Visitors often combine a visit to Gulhane Park with a tour of the nearby landmarks, creating a seamless journey through Istanbul’s rich heritage.

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Cankurtaran, Kennedy Cad., 34122 Fatih/İstanbul

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