Museum of Unique Byzantine Mosaics
The mosaic museum, which will be discussed below, is actually part of the peristyle of the large imperial palace in Constantinople, which was discovered in the 30s of the last century and literally resurrected from the ashes of the completely burned out buildings of the market and the former stables of the Ottoman army, which were located on the site the once majestic imperial palace. As is often the case in Istanbul, the unique Byzantine mosaics of the 5th-6th centuries were discovered by accident during construction work in the area of Arast Bazaar in 1933. As a result of excavations, about 2 thousand square meters of priceless mosaics made with the greatest art of lime, terracotta and glass 5mm cubes, the number of which per 1 sq.m., were discovered and excavated from the ground. reaches 40 (!!!) thousand.
All these wonderful mosaics are in the Museum of Mosaic, which is located near the very bazaar of Arast.
To find it, you need to go around the Blue Mosque from the back and go down Üçler Sokak-Tavukhane Sokak to Arasta Bazaar, enter the market itself and there will be a gap in the shopping arcade and a path to the right in the middle on the right side. Here is the entrance to the excavated Mosaic Museum.
The museum is open from 9 to 16 on all days except Monday. Entrance costs 8 Turkish lira.
After builders stumbled upon unusual stone paintings on the site of an abandoned ashes of the completely burnt out market buildings and the former stables of the Ottoman army, researchers from St. Andrews University (England) conducted large-scale archaeological research. As a result, a huge structure was discovered, covering an area of more than four thousand square meters, later identified as the peristyle of the large imperial palace in Constantinople. In addition, the remains of columns made to the Corinthian order were found here. This peristyle, apparently, was rebuilt under the emperor Justinian (527-565 AD). But the main find of archaeologists is, of course, miraculously preserved mosaics that once adorned the floors of this magnificent building. Untouched by time, mosaics were discovered in an area of about two thousand square meters.
The museum is located right on the site of those same excavations – exactly where the mosaics were found and the peristyle of the palace was located. The museum was first opened in 1953. Unfortunately, the first museum building was wooden. Changes in temperature and humidity caused the mosaics more damage than in all previous years. In 1987, a new, major museum building was commissioned. And in 2012 it was restored and the ventilation and air conditioning system improved. Today, thousands of tourists can see unique Byzantine mosaics. And there is something to see !!!
The Grand Imperial Palace served not only as a home for the ruling family, but also as the center of state government, for civil and religious ceremonies. In fact, it was a huge and luxurious complex – seven palaces, the official residences of the emperor and empress, office space, many churches and chapels located among luxurious gardens and parks …
But time did its job. Official residences moved to the Blachernae Palace, and this complex gradually fell into disrepair, which was also facilitated by earthquakes and fires …
So the great imperial palace disappeared, burying mosaics of incredible beauty and complexity underground for many centuries ..
Today in the exposition of the mosaic museum in Istanbul, a variety of fragments of the found “floors” are presented – from small, about one square meter in size, to huge, with sides counting six meters. In total, the museum has about ninety genres of mosaics that describe the daily life of Byzantium: mythical creatures, exotic animals, hunting scenes, fighting between animals, everyday life scenes, children’s games, etc.
Mosaics are made with the greatest art of lime, terracotta and glass 5mm cubes, the number of which per 1 sq.m. reaches 40 thousand. This is incredible in complexity and impressive in the final result.
One cannot fail to note the high realism in the depiction of genre scenes that were achieved thanks to the extraordinary talent and skill of ancient decorators.
After filling the drainage with soil, consisting of a mixture of sand, clay and charcoal, a thorough ramming was carried out. Then a cement solution was poured into rectangular shapes, on which cubes of marble, glass, clay and terracotta of various colors were laid out.