Recep Tayyip Erdogan may have been elected Turkey's president in August, but he's only now getting settled in his new post. A $615 million brand-new palace — four times the size of Versailles, the gold standard of historical opulence — would make anyone a bit more comfortable.
Turkey inaugurated the mansion, which is called Ak Saray, or White Palace, in Ankara last week. At 3.1 million square feet, Ak Saray became the largest presidential residence in the world, surpassing the roost belonging to the sultan of Brunei, which had held the title since 1984.
Besides 1,000 rooms, decorative green granite inlays, and bathrooms with silk wallpaper, the palace boasts a squad of servants and a $185 million, custom-built Airbus jet. The combined cost of Ak Saray and the jet surpasses the GDP of 12 countries, according to World Bank figures.
The expense and expanse of the palace has drawn criticism from many in Turkey who see it as another example of Erdogan trying to circumvent Turkey's traditional political system.
The palace was built against court orders on land set aside for a national park and shows Erdogan's "increasing sense of being above the country he governs and the rule of law," economist Atilla Yesilada told Bloomberg. "Whoever criticizes Erdogan and the ruling elite's behavior is labeled a betrayer of the nation."
Izzet Cetin, of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), compared Erdogan's new building to Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's massive People's Palace. Ceausescu was removed from power in a violent uprising in December 1989 and executed days later.
"The so-called sultan has built this for himself in a country where three million people are without work. You cut down hundreds of trees to build yourself this palace," Kemal Kilicdaroglu, also of the CHP, told the Telegraph.
Erdogan was prime minister of Turkey for 11 years, before becoming the country's first directly elected president this year.
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