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The pearl of the Bosphorus, mansions and their stories

When we say the Istanbul Strait, it also means beautiful historical mansions standing proudly along the waterfront. These mansions, reflecting different periods and architectural styles, are among Istanbul's most important cultural heritage. Approximately 150 out of the around 600 mansions that have survived to this day represent their original form. In total, there are about 360 mansions.

The mansions, located in the most beautiful corners of the Istanbul Strait, spread over a wide area on both the European and Asian sides. It is possible to see the most beautiful ones with a Bosphorus tour. In fact, some mansions can even be rented for special events.

During the Ottoman era, there was a certain system regarding the colors of the mansions. According to this, state officials resided in red-colored mansions. Light-colored mansions belonged to Muslims, while gray and shades of gray mansions belonged to non-Muslims. Keep this information in mind when you come across a mansion that has preserved its original form while touring the Bosphorus.

The Istanbul Strait, also known as the Bosporus, was one of the most favored places for the Ottoman Dynasty. The sultans and their close relatives built numerous mansions and palaces along the Istanbul Strait. It is impossible to remain indifferent to the most beautiful location in Istanbul, of course. Among these structures, Dolmabahçe Palace, Çırağan Palace, Adile Sultan Pavilion, Beylerbeyi Palace, and Küçüksu Pavilion are the most well-known.

The renowned writer Abdulhak Şinasi regarded the mansion architecture as a reflection of the ethnic diversity in the Ottoman Empire. According to Abdulhak Şinasi, the mansions were like miniatures of the empire. He said, "The old grand mansions were like miniatures of the Ottoman Empire: The nanny was Circassian, the sister was African, the maid was Greek, the foster child was Turkish, the wet nurse was a hybrid, the stewardess was from Thrace, the coffee master was Armenian, the boatman was Turkish or Greek, the chamberlain was Ethiopian, and the gardener was Albanian. These Muslim-Christian elements would gather under one roof and continue their roles within the empire."

The Istanbul Strait mansions, with their architecture and grandeur, also rank among the most expensive residences in the world. Zeki Paşa Mansion, one of the most striking mansions on the Bosphorus in terms of architecture, is considered one of the top 10 most expensive houses in the world. The mansion was put up for sale in 2019 for 550 million TL (Turkish Lira) but did not find a buyer.

There are dozens of magnificent mansions that passers-by on ferries along the Bosphorus envy, daydream about, and wonder about their stories. In this article, we have compiled the most interesting mansions on the European and Asian sides for you.