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Great Palace Mosaic Museum

Feb - 16 - 2013
Mosaic museum

The Great Palace Mosaic Museum in Istanbul

The Great Palace Mosaic Museum, is located close to Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, Turkey, at Arasta Bazaar. The museum houses mosaics from the Byzantine period, unearthed at the site of the Great Palace of Constantinople.
The museum hosts the mosaics used to decorate the pavement of a peristyle court, dating possibly to the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I (r. 527-565).

The mosaics in the museum, behind Istanbul’s Blue Mosque on Torun Sokak, just off the Arasta Çarşısı, are lively, artful images of hunting scenes, mythical beasts, fantastic objects and imaginings.

They’re the remains of a large courtyard that once adjoined the Palace Aula, one of the many courtyards, audience chambers and throne rooms, gardens, churches and chapels, baths and fountains of the vast, rambling Great Palace complex ordered built by Constantine the Great (306-337), founder of Constantinople.

The palace complex covered much of the area on the east side of the Hippodrome (At Meydanı) and extended downhill to the city walls on the Sea of Marmara.

Much of the palace complex was destroyed in the disastrous Nika riots of 532. It was rebuilt on order of Emperor Justinian (527-565). The mosaics you see in the museum are from this time, the 6th century.

They’re not as fine, colorful and glorious as the ones in Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) because these were in a courtyard open to the weather and meant to be walked on, while the ones in Ayasofya were on the walls. Also, don’t compare these to the ones in the Kariye Museum (Church of the Holy Savior in Chora), which were created eight centuries later!

The mosaics in the Great Palace Mosaic Museum are still quite surprising in their liveliness and variety: a man milks a goat, a mare suckles its foal, a monkey-like creature uses a stick to beat dates down from a palm tree, a deer bites a serpent, another serpent is held in an eagle’s claws, two dogs attack a large hare, warriors battle it out, a lion attacks an elephant….

One Response so far.

  1. daria glover says:

    This is one awesome article.Really thank you! Fantastic.


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