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It is the residential part of a larger palace complex that included administrative offices and guards' barracks.
Begun on orders of Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1880, it reached its final form in 1898 after several expansions.
It was intended as a residence for visiting royalty and heads of state, and that it was, hosting Kaiser Wilhelm II, its first and principal intended guest, on several occasions, and thereafter such luminaries as General Charles de Gaulle, Iran's Reza Shah Palavi, and even US President Bill Clinton.
Abdul Hamid himself, fearful of assassination attempts, took up residence here later in his reign and reigned over the vast but crumbling Ottoman Empire from the safety within its high walls and remote location.
—by Tom Brosnahan