Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yildiz Park and tulips

Yes, yes, it's yet another post about tulips, though it's awfully hard to write about enjoying the outdoors right now as our weather has turned rainy and cold. Damn you, fickle spring!

So, last weekend, we headed over to Yildiz Park in Besiktas for a wander among the flowers. We live fairly close to the park, and it seemed like an easy excursion on a day we didn't feel like doing much else.

And because we wanted easy, we made the wise decision to start at the top on Palanga Street. The park slopes down dramatically to the waterfront, and I imagine it would have been a tiring climb if we'd gone the other direction. (If you go, start at the top, really -- trust me on this.)

When the Ottomans were in power, Yildiz Park served as an imperial garden, first for Ciragan Palace along the Bosporus and then later for Sultan Abdulhamid II's newly constructed Yildiz palace within the park grounds. (In Turkish, the name actually translates to Yildiz Chalet, and according to Lonely Planet, it was the last sultan's palace to be built in Istanbul, in the late 1800s.)

We never actually got a look at Yildiz palace -- it's hidden behind a massive wall and foliage, and we decided not to pay to go in. But the park has a number of other lovely Ottoman buildings, and we wandered into the 1870-built Malta Kosku, where they were serving an open-to-the-public brunch. Fun fact -- After Sultan Abdulhamid II deposed his brother Murat V in 1876, he imprisoned him and his family here.

The park was far more quiet than I expected, especially when compared to Emirgan Park, although perhaps that was due to the fact that it was overcast and a wee bit chilly the day we went. But at times, despite the cars throughout the park, I almost felt like I was wandering through the woods.

At some points, because of the slope, we caught glimpses of the Bosporus and Sultanahmet.

When we were in Emirgan Park a couple of weeks ago, Cagatay and I were reminiscing about our trip to Holland last year, and we speculated on whether anyone responsible for the tulip displays in Istanbul had gone there to study Keukenhof Gardens, arguably the world's premier tulip garden. And now, after strolling through Yildiz Park, I believe the answer to that question is yes -- at the southwest exit, there's a river of flowers that looks remarkably like the one in Holland. :)

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