Palace Mosaic Museum (Büyük
Saray Mozaik Müzesi) is
a series of protective shelters above
6th-century mosaics that
once graced the floors of Byzantine Constantinople's
Great Palace (Palatium
The mosaics in the
museum, behind Istanbul's Blue
Sokak, just off the Arasta Çarşısı (Arasta
are lively, artful images of 90 different hunting
scenes, mythical beasts, fantastic
imaginings, with 150 characters over a mosaic area of 250 square meters, perhaps the largest single installation of mosaics to survive from Late Antiquity (450-550 CE).
Closed for Restoration?
The museum is usually open daily (closed Monday) from 09:00 am to 18:00 (6pm) in summer, 17:00 (5pm) in winter, but in late 2015 it was announced that the museum will be closed for up to two years for restoration of the mosaics and renovation of the museum building. Check to be sure it will be open for your visit.
Unearthed during excavations from 1932 to 1935, the mosaics are the remains of
a large courtyard that once adjoined
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
extended downhill to the city walls
on the Sea
Much of the palace complex was destroyed
in the disastrous Nika
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....
If you plan to visit Topkapı Palace and Hagia Sophia (and who doesn't?), as well as the Mosaic Museum, consider buying an Istanbul Museum Pass. You'll save time and money. More...
When you exit the Mosaic Museum, you'll
be in the Arasta Bazaar on
the east side of the Blue
right (south), walk through the bazaar
and straight downhill along Küçük
Ayasofya Camii Sokak to
reach the Little Hagia Sophia
Mosque, built by Justinian
as the Church
of Saints Sergius and Bacchus around
530 AD. More...