Palais de Suède

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Palais de Suède – From Ottoman Constantinople to Modern Istanbul

Frederick Whitling

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  • Published 2023
  • Isbn 9789188929969
  • Type Paperback
  • 213 pages
  • English

The Palais de Suède in Istanbul is the first Swedish embassy building built on state-owned land abroad, the oldest such Swedish property in the world. The main building, the present Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul, was completed in 1870-1871 as the legation (embassy) of the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway in Constantinople. It housed Sweden's official representation to Turkey until 1934, when the embassy moved to Ankara, the capital of the new Republic of Turkey. With the move of the embassies to Ankara, the "glory" of the erstwhile embassy palaces in Constantinople that in themselves typify European elements of the character of the city and the country was, in the words of the historian and travel writer John Julius Norwich, "stolen away".

The Swedish property in Istanbul is situated in pole position on Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), formerly known as the Grande Rue de Péra. It also houses the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, established in 1962. The estate is maintained by the National Property Board of Sweden, the government agency responsible for state-owned properries, land and historic buildings. Its prominent location to some extent reflects an eighteenth-century defense alliance that resulted in the epithet of Sweden as "Turkey's oldest friend". This book traces almost three hundred years of Swedish presence in the former Ottoman capital and modern metropolis, with a focus on the Palais de Suède itself in the wake of its 150th anniversary.