Cover image for The Accidental Palace: The Making of Yıldız in Nineteenth-Century Istanbul By Deniz Türker

The Accidental Palace

The Making of Yıldız in Nineteenth-Century Istanbul

Deniz Türker

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$114.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09391-8

Available as an e-book

272 pages
9" × 10"
25 color/73 b&w illustrations/4 maps
2023

Buildings, Landscapes, and Societies

The Accidental Palace

The Making of Yıldız in Nineteenth-Century Istanbul

Deniz Türker

“The contribution of Türker’s book to landscape history generally, as well as to our understanding of the changing face of Istanbul, is immeasurable. She explores to effect the interplay between the personal taste of the sultans of the Ottoman nineteenth century and their imperial and political vision, humanizing them, and giving the royal women, and their gardeners, who all stamped their mark on Yıldız, their place as historical actors.”

 

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This book tells the story of Yıldız Palace in Istanbul, the last and largest imperial residential complex of the Ottoman Empire. Today, the palace is physically fragmented and has been all but erased from Istanbul’s urban memory. At its peak, however, Yıldız was a global city in miniature and the center of the empire’s vast bureaucratic apparatus.

Following a chronological arc from 1795 to 1909, The Accidental Palace shows how the site developed from a rural estate of the queen mothers into the heart of Ottoman government. Nominally, the palace may have belonged to the rarefied realm of the Ottoman elite, but as Deniz Türker reveals, the development of the site was profoundly connected to Istanbul’s urban history and to changing conceptions of empire, absolutism, diplomacy, reform, and the public. Türker explores these connections, framing Yıldız Palace and its grounds not only as a hermetic expression of imperial identity but also as a product of an increasingly globalized consumer culture, defined by access to a vast number of goods and services across geographical boundaries.

Drawn from archival research conducted in Yıldız’s imperial library, The Accidental Palace provides important insights into a decisive moment in the palace’s architectural and landscape history and demonstrates how Yıldız was inextricably tied to ideas of sovereignty, visibility, taste, and self-fashioning. It will appeal to specialists in the art, architecture, politics, and culture of nineteenth-century Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.

“The contribution of Türker’s book to landscape history generally, as well as to our understanding of the changing face of Istanbul, is immeasurable. She explores to effect the interplay between the personal taste of the sultans of the Ottoman nineteenth century and their imperial and political vision, humanizing them, and giving the royal women, and their gardeners, who all stamped their mark on Yıldız, their place as historical actors.”
“Every page contains revelations about the palace and the reign.”
“. . . a careful reading of the book is rewarding, not only for its compelling portrait of an architectural project that is now mostly invisible, but also for its fearless depiction of the dynamism of late Ottoman artistic expression and production.”
“An erudite analysis, the first of its kind on a palace which, even today, remains poorly known both by historians and art historians as well as by Istanbul residents themselves.”
The Accidental Palace offers an erudite analysis of the nexus of artistic activity represented by Yıldız Palace. It is one of the first English-language works of art or architectural history of the late Ottoman world that does not frame its importance through the prism of orientalism. Deniz Türker engages in a stealthy refutation of Eurocentric frameworks for late Ottoman visual synthesis by doing the archival work that allows the myriad actors involved—patrons, gardeners, builders, diplomats, and more—to materialize their own artistic autonomy, resulting in a truly fresh look at artistic agency.”
“Through the prism of architecture and landscape, The Accidental Palace offers a rich ethnography of power and culture in the age of Ottoman reform, as well as a unique window on the expansion of globalized consumerism.”

Deniz Türker is Assistant Professor of Islamic Art at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Her research has appeared in Muqarnas and International Journal of Islamic Architecture.

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgements

List of Abbreviations

Notes on Transliterations and Translations

Introduction

1. Sultan Abdülhamid II’s Yıldız Palace

2. Yıldız Kiosk and the Queen Mothers

3. Yıldız and Its Gardeners

4. The Architecture of Yıldız Mountain

5. The Last Photograph Album of the Hamidian Palace

Coda: Mosque, Palace Theater

Notes

Selected Bibliography

Index

Download a PDF sample chapter here: Introduction