Pope’s Visit to Turkey Leader Erdogan’s Ak Saray Stirs Controversy…
Francis is scheduled to visit a new $615-million palace seen by many Turks as a symbol of excess and their president’s autocratic rule.
ISTANBUL — He’s championed austerity, condemned greed and been dubbed “The People’s Pope.” But during a visit to Ankara on Friday, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit a new $615-million palace seen by many Turks as a symbol of excess and their president’s autocratic rule.
The pontiff will become the first foreign dignitary to visit the 1,000-room presidential residence that’s been nicknamed Ak Saray — or “White Palace.” Some of the building’s critics have urged him to cancel his visit for fear it would condone a construction project they deem not just extravagant, but illegal.
The palace is the largest presidential residence in the world. It is 30 times the size of the White House.
Not only does the lavish structure appear at odds with the pope’s frugal philosophy, it was constructed on environmentally protected farmland. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ignored a court injunction ordering its construction be halted.