Speed Reads

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Turkey's gigantic, controversial new presidential palace overshadows all others

At 2,150,000 square feet, Turkey's ostentatious new presidential palace puts the residences of other global leaders to shame. For some perspective, this 1,000-room behemoth of a building has almost 50 times the floor space of the White House.

Located in the outskirts of Ankara, the capital, Ak Saray — the "white palace" — cost an estimated $350 million to build, The Washington Post reports. In addition to its astronomical price tag, activists are also outraged that the palace was constructed on what was supposed to be protected land, and many trees were bulldozed to make way.

Ak Saray was officially unveiled on Oct. 29, Turkey's Republic Day. It is very different from the palace that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk built in Ankara so many years ago. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan explained, "The new Turkey should assert itself with something new." Erdogan said designers "paid attention to Ottoman themes in the interior," and also added "elements reflecting the modern world."

In the modern world, The Wall Street Journal reports, "Ankara's regional influence has sunk to a low point," thanks to Erdogan's miscalculations.