February 24, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8581

'Is It Not A Shame That Money Belonging To The Nation And State Is Poured Into These Palaces?' – Turkish Journalist Criticizes President Erdoğan's Construction Of Extravagant Palaces

February 24, 2020
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8581

In a February 15, 2020 column in the Turkish daily Sözcü, investigative journalist Emin Çölaşan criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's construction of extravagant palaces.[1] He counted three palaces that President Erdoğan's AKP government has in various stages of construction: one completed in Ankara; one under construction in Marmaris Okluk; and one by Lake Van. Çölaşan wrote: "The nation is suffering a lot from hunger, from unemployment, from corruption... Is it not a shame that money belonging to the nation and state is poured into these palaces?"

Turkish investigative journalist Emin Çölaşan (source:

Since December 2015, President Erdoğan has resided at the Turkish Presidential Complex in Ankara, which, with 1,150 rooms, is often referred to as a palace.[2] While Turkey's then Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek announced in November 2014 the cost of the construction of the palace as 1.3 billion Turkish lira,[3] Tezcan Karakuş Candan, then director of the Ankara branch of the Chamber of Architects, has said: "We are face to face with an expenditure of 20 billion Turkish lira at the palace."[4] Twenty billion Turkish lira is about 8.7 billion USD based on an exchange rate from October 2014, when the palace was opened.[5]

Sixty million Turkish lira were spent on roads to reach the palace.[6] The palace's toilets cost five to ten thousand lira apiece[7] and it has 63 elevators. The drinking glasses used at a reception at the palace were 1,000 lira apiece,[8] which is about as much as a minimum wage worker earned in a month in Turkey in 2014.[9] The palace's doors cost 170,000 lira apiece, and there are reportedly about 150 such doors in the palace's main building.[10] The palace's 22,000 square meters of windows cost about 701 million lira.[11]

The Ankara branch director of the Chamber of Architects estimated the cost of the palace as $8.7 billion.

The cost of the palace's basic monthly upkeep, including its electricity, water, natural gas, heating, cooling, cleaning, and landscaping, is about 21 million lira.[12] Heating the palace for six months costs about 10 million lira, or approximately the price of heating all the homes in the Turkish province of Bayburt, which has a population of about 80,000 people, for a season.[13] The personnel costs are seven times higher than those at Çankaya Mansion, which was the residence of the Turkish president until 2014.[14] and its annual cleaning costs are 104 million lira.[15] Maintaining the palace tulips costs 1.6 million lira per year,[16] while the landscaping in general costs 108 million lira per year.[17]

While the Presidential Complex is also called Ak Saray ("White Palace"), it has been nicknamed Kaçak Saray ("Fugitive Palace") because it was illegally built[18] on the Atatürk Forest Farm, which had been about 25,000 acres of nationally protected land that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey known for his secularist policies, established in 1925 in west Ankara from land purchased from individuals. Urbanologist Dr. Ruşen Keleş estimated in 2014 that at that time approximately 8,000 acres, or approximately 1/3, of the Atatürk Forest Farm remained as a result of illegal transfers, grants, and sales of the land.[19]

Following is a translation of Çölaşan's February 15 column:

"We All Know The Famous, Magnificent Palace In Ankara... He Is Having A Gorgeous Summer Palace Built For Himself In Marmaris Okluk... Another New Palace Is Being Built Overlooking Lake Van"

"My dear readers, this government, above all the party-member president loves palaces and living in palaces. And they are right, their mothers gave birth to and raised all of them in palaces like Ottoman sultans! That must be where their love of the Ottomans comes from.

"By now we all know the famous, magnificent palace in Ankara with 1,150 rooms and halls (even if it is closed to the public). Only Recep would not be content with this much. Now he is having a gorgeous summer palace built for himself in Marmaris Okluk. Billions have been spent on it, and it is almost finished.[20] From now on he will spend a portion of his summer vacations there. Their fondness for palaces is such that they hold normal day-to-day meetings in the state's Dolmabahçe Palace.[21]

"But their palace passion does not end there. Now another new palace is being built overlooking Lake Van in the Ahlat district of Bitlis for the gentleman and his family. No one knows what the cost of the Ahlat palace will be or what it will be for. The gentleman wanted it, and it is being built."

"The Nation Is Suffering A Lot From Hunger, From Unemployment, From Corruption... Is It Not A Shame That Money Belonging To The Nation And State Is Poured Into These Palaces?"

"While all of this was happening, the nation is suffering a lot from hunger, from unemployment, from corruption. The number of unemployed has passed five million, who cares! Is it not a shame that money belonging to the nation and state is poured into these palaces?

"There is a more interesting aspect to this... The Constitutional Court cancelled the legal ruling preventing the construction of the Ahlat palace in January of last year. Now the construction of the palace has been approved once again with a clause crammed into a newly prepared bag law in parliament.[22] With AKP and MHP votes! May they live in the old and new palaces together with their children and enjoy it. What else can I say!"


[1], February 15, 2020.

odali-oldugunu-acikladi/haber-360731, December 6, 2014.

[3], November 5, 2014.

[4], June 3, 2015.

[5], accessed August 30, 2019.

[6], November 19, 2014.

[7], December 10, 2014.

[8], December 3, 2014.

[9], December 31, 2013.

[10], April 6, 2015.

milyon-lira_321748, February 18, 2015.

[12], February 24, 2015.

[13],283790, January 15, 2015.

patladi/163184, November 11, 2014.

[15], February 11, 2015.

[16], January 21, 2015.

[17],286433, February 7, 2015.

[18], May 26, 2015.

elde-kalan-338-bin-dekar,268139, August 19, 2014.

[20] Çölaşan actually said that "trillions" had been spent on the palace, but he was referring to the pre-2005 Turkish lira, which was revalued in 2005. He meant "billions" in terms of the new Turkish lira.

[21] Dolmabahçe Palace, located in Istanbul, was the center of the Ottoman Empire's administration from 1856-1887 and 1909-1922.

[22] The phrase torba yasa ("bag law") refers to legislation that makes rulings on many different subjects., April 15, 2019.

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