October 11, 2014

Historic French Palace in Istanbul Now Open to Public

The French Consulate General on Saturday opened the gates of the French Palace in İstanbul to visitors in an effort to share Turkey and France's common cultural heritage with the people of the city.

The French Palace is open to visitors free of charge on Saturdays as part of a larger project undertaken by France. According to the briefing given by Consul General Domenach, her country has been organizing “open door days” in historic buildings for the last three decades.

The French consul general says one of the reasons behind opening the doors of the complex to the public is that it is a part of İstanbul's heritage. Indeed, the French Palace has a deeper meaning for the family of the consul general. Her husband's great-grandfather had served as ambassador to İstanbul up until the end of World War I in 1914. The Ottoman fountain that is located in the garden was a gift to that ambassador's wife by the Ottoman sultan. Domenach's husband Olivier Bouquet became a historian out of interest in his ancestor's story and specializes in Ottoman history.

The halls of the French Palace are decorated with historic tapestries, some of which have been restored, vases, paintings and statues including a marble statue of Napoleon Bonaparte. The tapestries are full of lily motifs, since the lily symbolizes the French state. Indeed, as Consul General Domenach says, the historic relationship between the French and the Turks is called the “tulip-lily relationship” since the Ottomans used tulips extensively. 


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