ISTANBUL — Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vanity fuels his reputation as arrogant and ridiculous. There’s no doubt who’s boss, if his presidential palace is a yardstick.
His vanity is apparent in the billions spent for his 2,000-room Ak Saray palace — the official residence that is four times the size of France’s Palace Versailles and 30 times bigger than the White House.
● Nicknamed “Ak Saray” (White Palace), it covers an area of about 300,000 sq m, with a three-storey residence for the president.
● Opposition parties likened the gargantuan complex to Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s People’s Palace or Hassan al-Sabbah’s castle of Alamut.
● All the major materials used in building the presidential palace are imported.
● The roof system came from Germany, green marble from India while all the materials in the palace were made in France, England and Italy.
● The trees were from Italy and Holland.
● Inside the palace, a majestic hallway leads up to a sweeping staircase. The quixotic architectural style seems to cross the Ottoman and Seljuk traditions with that of a modern Chinese railway station.
● The bathrooms have silk wallpaper worth between US$1,750 (RM6,972) and US$3,500 (RM14,00).
● The single and double doors throughout the palace are also notable for their extreme cost. The double doors are some 3.40m high and two metres wide and there are 170 of these in the palace.
● With just one set of these double doors costing US$60,000 (RM239,000), the total cost of all the double doors hit US$8.7 million (RM34.6 million).
● There are also 450 single doors throughout the palace, each one costing around over US$1,000 (RM3,980). The cost for all the palace doors combined is estimated at over US$34 million (RM135.5 million).
● The whole structure is surrounded by a forested park. The total cost of all the imported trees, grass, decorative pools and other garden decor and various plants is estimated to be US$874 million (RM2.3 billion).
● The palace’s monthly energy bill is about US$385,000 (RM1.5 million).
● Controversy erupted when the nation was told the total value of the project was expected to reach US$615 million (RM2.45 billion) and that a new presidential jet would be bought for US$185 million (RM737 million).
● Additional utility buildings next to the presidential complex will be built on the Ataturk Forest Farm, a conservation area which has strict rules prohibiting new buildings.
● See also pages 17 & 36