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Yildiz Park

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A pretty, leafy oasis alive with birds and picnickers, Yildiz Park (Yıldız Parkı) is the place to come if you need to escape İstanbul’s hullabaloo. Once the imperial gardens of nearby Cırağan Palace, it has two grandiose köşkü (pavilions), where the sultans could enjoy their surrounds in style, and another Ottoman-European palace, Yıldız Şale.

If you enter from the main entrance, at Çırağan Caddesi, walk 10 minutes up the steep main road to the T intersection at the top. Turn left for the Çadır Köşkü. Built between 1865 and 1870, this ornate kiosk is now a low-key café beside a lake.

Turn right at the T intersection to find the entrance to Yıldız Şale (Yıldız Chalet Museum). Sultan Abdül Hamit II (r 1876–1909) didn’t allow himself to be upstaged by his predecessors. He built his own fancy chalet here in 1882, expanded it in 1898 for a state visit by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. As you enter, a guide will approach and give you a half-hour tour. Although the chalet isn’t as plush as Dolmabahçe, it’s a lot less crowded.

Around 500m past the turn-off to Yıldız Şale you’ll come to the Malta Köşkü. Built in 1870, this was where Abdül Hamit imprisoned the deposed Murat V and his family. With its views of the Bosphorus, the terrace café here is a great place for a light lunch.

If you come to the park by taxi, have it take you up the steep slope to Yıldız Şale; you can visit the other kiosks on the walk down. A taxi from Sultanahmet to the top of the hill should cost around €10 if there is no traffic.

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