Naval Museum, Beşiktaş, Istanbul
For decades Turkey’s imperial caiques, which once bore Ottoman Sultans and Grand Viziers on the Bosphorus, were shown to their distinct disadvantage in this museum in Beşiktaş. But with the opening in late 2013 of a vast two-floor viewing gallery, these maritime equivalents of Britain’s state landaus and ceremonial carriages can be seen in all their full glory.
There are also smaller caiques used in Turkey’s War of Independence and a typically reverent display of dinghies oared by the national founder Atatürk. But the eye is irresistibly drawn to the needle-narrow caiques, some a hundred feet long, topped by curtained kiosks and with magnificently carved gilded prows. This collection conjures the flamboyance and excess of the Ottoman age like nothing else in the old imperial capital.