Pope Francis’ penchant for austerity and humility will face a diplomatic challenge when he visits Turkey’s new ostentatious presidential palace on his first visit to the country later this month.
Francis will be the first foreign dignitary to be welcomed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the new 1,000-room palace when he visits Ankara on Nov. 28.
Turkish architects have written to the pope urging him not to go to the palace built by Erdogan and known locally as the “White Palace.”
Larger than the White House or Buckingham Palace in London, the enormous palace was inaugurated last month and expected to cost more than half a billion dollars.
The palace was built on land bequeathed to the state as a forest farm by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the World War I general and revered founder of the modern Turkish republic.
The pope is scheduled to give a speech at the palace after a visit to Ataturk’s mausoleum on the first leg of his three-day visit to Ankara and Istanbul.