Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week unveiled his new palace in the outskirts of the country’s capital, Ankara. The gaudy residence boasts 1,000 rooms and apparently cost some $350 million to construct. Its total area, according to the AFP, encompasses some 2,150,000 square feet. Unsurprisingly, such largesse has led to criticism.
Ahead of the complex’s official unveiling, which took place on Turkey’s Republic Day on Oct. 29, opposition politicians declared that they would boycott the event — one deputy said it made Moscow’s Kremlin compound look “like an outhouse.” It has almost 50 times the floor space of the White House.
Activists are also furious that the gigantic complex has been erected in an area that was supposed to be protected forested lands and led to a significant mowing down of trees. Mass protests last year against Erdogan’s government were initially inspired by state plans to build a commercial development in a small park in Istanbul.
On the left, Google Earth image of the new Ak Saray in Ankara. On the right, the White House in Washington, D.C.
On the left, Google Earth image of the new Ak Saray in Ankara. On the right, the White House in Washington, D.C. The images are to scale.
Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (known by the acronym AKP) withstood a string of corruption scandals and triumphed in elections this year, which led to the then-Turkish prime minister taking up the role of the country’s President. The opening of the new palace — dubbed the Ak Saray, or “white palace,” but also a play on the ruling party’s name — is rich with symbolism.