Museum of Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul
The Museum of Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul is actually a large part of the peristyle of the Imperial Palace in Constantinople, which was discovered in the 30s of the last century. The palace literally resurrected from the ashes of the burned buildings of outright market and the former stables of the Ottoman army, which were located on the site of once majestic Imperial Palace. As is often happens, the unique Byzantine mosaics of V-VI centuries were discovered quite by accident, during the construction work in the area Arasta Bazaar in 1933. In the excavations were discovered and removed from the ground about 2 thousand square meters of priceless mosaics made with the greatest art of lime, terracotta and glass 5mm cubes, which number per 1 sq.m. reached 40 thousand.
All these wonderful mosaics are in the Museum of mosaics, which is located near the very Arasta Bazaar. To find it, you need to get around the Blue Mosque from the back side and go down the street Üçler Sokak-Tavukhane Sokak to Arasta Bazaar, enter the market itself, and about the middle of the right side of the gap will be shopping malls and track right. And here is the entrance to the Museum of excavated mosaics. The museum is open from 9 to 16 all days except Mondays.
Once on the site of abandoned ashes of burned buildings builders stumbled upon the unusual paintings on stone, researchers from the University of St Andrews (UK) conducted a large-scale archaeological survey. The result was discovered huge structure, spanning more than four thousand square meters, later identified as the peristyle of large imperial palace in Constantinople. In addition, there also have been found remains of columns made by the Corinthian order. This peristyle, apparently, was rebuilt during the reign of Justinian (527-565 AD). But the main archaeological finds, is, of course, miraculously preserved mosaics once adorned the floors of this magnificent building. Untouched by time, mosaics have been found on an area of about two thousand square meters.
The museum is located on the spot of the most excavations – exactly where mosaics were found and the peristyle of the palace was located.
First exhibition of the museum was opened in 1953. Unfortunately, the first building of the museum was made of wood. Changes in temperature and humidity caused more damage to the mosaics than in all previous years. In 1987 a new capital building of the museum was constructed. And in 2012 it was renovated, ventilation and air conditioning were improved. Today, thousands of tourists can see the unique Byzantine mosaics.
Large imperial palace was not only home for the ruling family, but also the center of the state government, for the civil and religious ceremonies. In fact, it was a huge and luxurious complex – seven palaces, the official residence of the Emperor and Empress, office space, a lot of churches and chapels, situated among lush gardens and parks. But time has done its job. Official residences moved to Vlaherna palace, and this complex gradually fell into disrepair, to which also contributed the earthquake and fires. Thus a large imperial palace disappeared, the incredible beauty and complexity of the mosaic was buried underground for many centuries.
Today, the Museum of Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul contains a variety of fragments of “floor” – from small, measuring about one square meter, to large at about six meters. All in all, the museum has about ninety genres mosaic that describe the daily life of Byzantium: mythical creatures, exotic animals, hunting scenes, fight between animals, scenes of everyday life, children’s games, etc.
The mosaics are made with the greatest art, from lime, terracotta and glass 5mm cubes, whose number per 1 sq.m. reaches 40 million. It is impossible not to mention the high realism in the depiction of genre scenes, which have been achieved thanks to the extraordinary talent and skill of the ancient decorators.