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All reviews arasta bazaar mosaic floors blue mosque byzantine emperors amazing mosaics daily life worth a visit grand palace mosaic work quick visit sultanahmet square hagia sophia scenes animals unearthed constantine restoration
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Reviewed 10 March 2018

This is a small museum where the mosaics retrieved from the ruins of the ancient Great Palace are exhibited. The Great Palace was the residence of the Byzantine emperors and was located where the Blue Mosque now stands; it was built by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century and then expanded by the Emperor Justinian 1 the Great in the 6th century; in the 13th century it was finally abandoned and fell into disrepair. The mosaics were made in the years 450-550 AD and are magnificent. The museum where they are now kept is very unassuming, without the grandiosities, the amenities and the infrastructures which are normally expected in a museum: for instance there is no air conditioning nor there are restrooms. Of course this is a specialized museum, possibly not appealing to tourists in search of flashy and easy attractions; conversely, a savvy visitor will find this museum very interesting and rewarding.

The museum has two rooms only. The most important pieces in exhibition are two marvellous mosaics, which were once decorating the floors of a courtyard of the Great Palace; each of them measures not less than 50 square metres (I guess) and they now form the floor of the two rooms of the museum; obviously, they cannot be walked upon, but can only be viewed from a balcony. In addition, the museum contains dozens of other mosaics coming from the same courtyard; they measure from one to several square metres and are attached to the walls of the museum; these mosaics can be viewed close-up from a walkway running in front of them. All the remains presented in this museum were retrieved during archaeological excavations carried out in the years 1935-1954.

The mosaics are decorated with hunting and pastoral scenes. There are armed men and dogs hunting wild animal (leopards, gazelle, deer, etc.) and other animals are represented as well (bears, elephants, camels, etc); there are scenes of pastoral life (shepherds with sheep and goats, cows, farmers at work, etc.) and there are domestic scenes; trees and flowers of many species are also represented. The two big floors contain dozens of such scenes, although some of them are incomplete, due to the loss of part of the mosaic; however the depiction is exceptionally beautiful. Extensive information is provided by a great number of posters attached to the walls: they specify the location were the mosaic were found, describe the work done for reclaiming and restoring them, and explain the contents of the mosaics; this information is provided in Turkish, German and English. Taking pictures is allowed, and the result will be good, since the museum is abundantly lighted by skylight. A hasty visit can be completed in about 15 minutes, but if you appreciate the art of mosaic you will probably remain one hour.

The Museum is located behind the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque), within the beautiful Arasta Bazaar. To reach it, walk along the left side of the Blue Mosque (the side where the tomb of Sultan Ahmet is located) and after 100 metres you will reach the entrance of the Arasta Bazaar (on your right); enter the central alley of the bazaar and walk it until you run into the sign of the museum. The museum is open from 9:00 to 19:00 (to 17:00 in winter). Admission is 20 Turkish liras (slightly more than 4 €), but it is free for the owners of the Istanbul Museums Pass. There are no restrooms, no seats, no cloak-room, no shop, but the venue is functional and pleasant. The staff is composed of young and welcoming people. Enough English is spoken.

Date of experience: March 2018
3  Thank Marco_Polo499
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2018 via mobile

DO NOT MISS A CHANCE TO VISIT THIS MUSEUM!!!
I got here to this museum only by chance as this was one of the museums included in musekart and it was very close to where I stayed. This place is easy to miss because of lack of sign boards and popularity. But I just don't see why this place has been neglected. Poorly done museum, maybe because it's built in situ. If history fascinates you, well, welcome to the archeological finds of Byzantine palace that was once the pride of city of Constantinople. It's a pity that today it's overshadowed by blue mosque and Hagia Sophia. The history of this place is interesting and it's elaborated very well inside the museum so don't worry, you don't need a guide. But do spend some time to read what this place was once upon a time. Looking at mosaic work from 4th CE gives me goosebumps. Let your imagination run free, and you will see the grandeur of this Byzantine palace centuries ago before it crumbled into the ruins that we see today!!!

Date of experience: January 2018
1  Thank yatraholic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 January 2018

One of the hidden gems of Istanbul or shall I say - Constantinople. The museum is so hidden not a lot of people know it. During my visit, I was practically the only person visiting the museum. t's located within the Arasta Bazaar so if you happen to be around the area, do pay a visit to this less-known museum.

The Great Palace was built by Constantine I in 330 CE. It became the residence for subsequent Eastern Roman/Byzantine emperors and was the center of administration for nearly 700 years. The mosaic tiles in this museum are the remains of what used to be the Great Palace (most of them are now lost in history as they are now under the current structures of the Sultanahmet Camii and other Ottoman-era buildings). Most of them are broken but you can still see a large part of them and it is just impressive. It's amazing how they still survive up to this day. The most impressive I think was the ones on the floor. It depicts some of the scenes of the daily life of the people from the Eastern Roman or Byzantine era.

Highly recommended if you are into history and archaeology. It offers a glimpse into Istanbul back when it was Constantinople, under the Byzantines. It offers a really different sight from the crowded and famous Hagia Sophia or Sultanahmet Mosque or the Topkapi Palace.

Date of experience: January 2018
2  Thank Ara A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 January 2018

Really makes you appreciate the scope of the mosaic art and the effort the artists put in. Included in the museum pass. When we visited, the "gift shop" such that it was was closed. Restrooms. Photos permitted, no flash.

Date of experience: November 2017
Thank therese l
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 January 2018

The Mosaic Museum is within the Arasta Bazar, by the side of the Blue Mosque. Unfortunately, this place is not much visited unlike the Hagia Sophia or the Topkapi Palace. But those who choose to visit are treated to a stunning display of mosaics in the Grand Palace of Constantinople and other rulers of this fabulous city.

Date of experience: December 2017
Thank Madhu N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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