Beylerbeyi, formerly known as istavroz (crucifix), dates back, along with its environs, to the Byzantine era. Famous for its gardens, the region attracted the attention of the Ottoman Sultans, who created here, throughout the centuries, the most famous of royal gardens. In the course of time, the shores at this point came to be known as Beylerbeyi after the waterside residence built here by Mehmet Pasha, the Beylerbeyi (governorgeneral) of Rumeli, during the reign of Sultan Murat III (1574-1595). Following the construction of a number of different buildings at various periods a wooden palace, which came to be known as the "Yellow Palace" because of the colour of its façade, was built here on the orders of Sultan, and the terraced gardens, which have survived to the present day, were first laid out. The wooden palace erected by Sultan Mahmud II was destroyed by fire in 1851 and was replaced in the years 1861-1876, during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, by the present palace and its outbuildings. The Tunnel, the Marble Pavilion and the pool, which had belonged to the old building, were preserved and have survived to the present day as part of existing complex.
Beylerbeyi was a summer palace used more particularly for the entertainment of representatives of foreign states, including the Prince of Serbia, the King of Montenegro and the French Empress Eugénie among its guests. Sultan Abdülhamid spent his last years in the palace after his deposition and was here, in 1918, that he died. Beylerbeyi Palace is a unique architectural monument reflecting the imperial art and culture of the last Ottoman period. It displays neo-classical influences in its façade and Turkish and Moroccan influences in its interior decoration, while its plan resembles that of the traditional Turkish House. It consists, together with the basement, of a three-storey building, containing six salons and twenty-four rooms.
The rooms and salon are furnished with furniture imported from Europe, Turkish-Hereke carpets, floor matting from Egypt, English and French crystal chandeliers, English and French clocks together with clocks made in the Golden Horn arsenal and vases from China, Japan, France and Yıldız Porcelain Factory in Istanbul, while the rooms and salons are adorned with inscriptions and paintings, each a work of art in itself. Sultan Abdülaziz, the founder of the palace, took a particular interest in its decoration and is known to have himself made sketches for some of the ceiling paintings connected with the sea and naval battles. The Marine Pavilions on, the shore, the Marble Pavilion, the Yellow Pavilion and the Stable Pavilion in the upper terrace garden, as well as the Tunnel underneath the
terrace gardens, combine with the main building to complete the complex. Other buildings, such as the Avagat Apartment, the Music Room, the Deer Pavilion and the Lion House have not survived. The Tunnel and the Stable Pavilion have been restored to their original state and are now used for cultural and artistic activities.
Beylerbeyi Palace has several places for banquets; the capacity of Has Bahçe is 800-1000, Has Bahçe and Harem Bahçe together is 1600, Üst (Upper) Set Bahçe 500-600, Orta (Mid) Set Bahçe is 300-400, Upper and Mid Set Bahçe together is 800- 1000, Tunnel 350-400, Ahır Köflk 200-250, Ahır Köflk Garden 600-700.