Erdogan's new palace: curse or castle?

Erdogan’s new lavish palace has been compared to the Peoples Palace of former Romanian communist leader Ceauşescu

Asma Ajroudi

Published: Updated:

Recep Tayyip Erodgan’s opulent presidential palace has made worldwide headlines for the second time in a week after its cost of more than $600 million emerged to be twice the earlier estimate.

Erdogan pronounced the new edifice as a symbol of his “New Turkey” project, and with Turkey’s new AK Saray (Turkish for white house), the Turkish leader entered history as a member of what Bloomberg dubbed the “Big Palace Club.”

Read Also: Erdogan’s new $350 mln palace draws controversy.

Some opposition critics compared Erdogan’s sprawling palace to that of former Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who was ousted and subsequently executed together with his wife before their palace was finished.

“The project of the new building is an adaptation of the palace which [Nicolae] Ceauşescu had built in Bucharest for himself, but couldn’t even reside for a single day. It is an adaptation both in regards to the project and in regards to the mentality,” the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News quoted Izzet Cetin, a leader of the opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) as saying.

To put it into even more perspective, the palace, which Erdogan reportedly partly designed himself, is four times the size of Louis XIV’s Chateau de Versailles and 30 times the size of the White House.

“The so-called sultan has built this for himself in a country where three million people are without work,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) told the Telegraph. “You cut down hundreds of trees to build yourself this palace.”

Interestingly enough, many of such symbolic glamorous masterpieces were left behind only a short time after construction was completed almost rendering their majestic possessions a “curse.”

Ceauşescu’s Peoples Palace

Ceauşescu’s most concrete legacy was his Peoples Palace, now Romania’s parliament building, and continues to stand as a Stalinist symbol in the ex-communist Eastern European country.

The palace, documented as the world’s second largest civilian building after the Pentagon, was reportedly built by a million Romanians and had the potential to consume more electricity “in three hours than all of Bucharest’s two million inhabitants in 24.”

Yanukovych’s “cottage”

Like the Romanian dictator, Ukraine’s Viktor F. Yanukovych was overthrown last year while his luxurious mansion, reportedly larger than the palatial presidential residence, outside the capital Kiev was two years in the making. The palace was overlooking the Black sea, had room for an indoor swimming pool, and occupied a land in the middle of a protected forest, according to a New York Times report.

Saddam’s “Green Palace”

Similarly, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein celebrated his birthday in 1999 by unveiling his largest and most sumptuous palace, Maqar el-Tharthar, or the so-called "Green Palace." He was overthrown four years later with the 2003 American invasion. The palace, located near his home town of Tikrit, was built on the shore of an artificial lake, had marble rooms, stadiums, an amusement park, hospitals and new homes and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hitler’s Volkshalle Palace

Also known as the "Hall of the People," was a monumental domed palace designed by Hitler’s architect Albert Speer to serve as the landmark of the Nazi leader's imagined global capital Welthaupstadt Germania. The sophisticated structure could have seen light had Hitler triumphed during the World War II.

Mussolini’s Palazzo della Civilita

Designed to be the symbol of fascism for the world, The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana was inaugurated in November 1940, four years before Mussolini and his mistress were executed.

Erdogan is arguably the most influential Turkish leader after the country’s secular founder Mustapha Kemal Attaturk. His Justice and Development Party has been ruling the country for more than a decade with a political agenda many opposition figures criticize as a “betrayal to the country’s secular heritage,” despite the noteworthy economic growth the country has seen under his leadership.