600-YEAR-OLD HISTORY: A SEPARATE CITY INSIDE A CITY

Its exquisite position in Sarayburnu, it’s having been the residence of Ottoman sultans and the administration and education center of the state increase the magnificence of The Topkapı Palace. It is definitely a must-see in order to have a real insight into the administrative structure of the Ottoman Empire, to observe the life of the palace and to witness its extraordinary collections. The Topkapı Palace Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world with its glittering treasures and interesting stories behind its simple architecture.

THE FIRST PALACE AFTER THE CONQUEST OF ISTANBUL (FALL OF CONSTANTINOPLE)

The first Palace built by Mehmed the Conqueror after the conquest was called “The Old Palace” in Bayezid, at the site where the University of Istanbul is located today. Then in 1460, by his order, the Tiled Kiosk and the Topkapi Palace, where he was going to settle, were built in the Byzantine Acropolis in Sarayburnu. The palace’s initial name was “New Palace” (Saray-ı Cedid) and it was inspired by the splendor of Edirne Palace which was built by Mehmed the Conqueror’s father Murad II. There are only the surviving remains of Edirne Palace today.

It was given the name “Topkapı” during the reign of Mahmud I. When the wooden palace of Sultan Mahmud I “Topkapusu Seaside Palace” near the Byzantine Walls burned down in a fire, its name was given to the “New Palace”. The burnt down palace was called that because of the salute cannons in front of it.

Topkapı Palace has been the administrative center of the state and the living place of the Sultan’s family since 1478 and has been continuously developed, grown and added new wings for centuries. The Ottoman state philosophy and the relations between the palace and the citizens had a great role in its structural plan. Although the sultans moved to Dolmabahçe Palace in the 1850s, state ceremonies continued due to the Imperial Treasury, holy relics and imperial archives.

TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT HOW THE OTTOMAN STATE LIVED

An important part of the Topkapı Palace, which spans an area of 700 thousand square meters, is reserved for The Royal Gardens (Hasbahçe). It has three main gates “The Imperial Gate” (Bab-i Hümayun), “The Middle Gate” (Babüsselam) and “The Gate of Facility” (Babüssaade); four courtyards, The Imperial Harem and The Royal Gardens (Hasbahçe/Gulhane). The palace was consciously built in a modest way and even the Great Architect Sinan built only one section. The plan consists of sections reserved for state affairs between courtyards and gardens, the dwellings and kiosks of the Sultans, and buildings for officials living in the palace.

Since 1924, treasury, sacred relics, clocks, portraits of the Sultans, Sultan’s dresses, weapons have been exhibited in the palace, which has hosted visitors as a fascinating museum.

TOPKAPI PALACE TREASURY

  • The Spoonmaker’s Diamond

HAGIA IRENE MUSEUM

Hagia Irene means “Divine Peace” in Greek, so it was a church dedicated to holly peace, not to a Saint Irene as it’s wrongly pronounced today. It’s believed that the church was first built in the 4th century AD over the ruins of a pagan temple by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine I. The wooden construction was burned during the Nika Riot in 532 AD and it was renovated by Justinian I, representing typical characteristics of early Byzantine architecture. During the following centuries, the church was restored several times because of the earthquakes and some big fires.

The Janissaries used the church as an arsenal after the Conquest of Constantinople in 1453. The staircases to the galleries and the inscription on the gate were added by the Ottomans. In the 19th century, it was opened as a sort of museum displaying old weapons. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was closed and remained empty for many years until they started the restorations.

ISTANBUL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUMS

Istanbul Archaeological Museums are a complex of museums consisting of three main units. The Archaeological Museum, The Museum of Ancient Oriental Works, The Tiled Kiosk Museum. Istanbul Archaeological Museum, the first museum in Turkey, has about a million artifacts from a variety of cultures, brought from the imperial lands.

The interest in collecting historical artifacts in the Ottoman period dates back to the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror, but the institutional emergence of museums coincides with the establishment of Istanbul Archaeological Museums in 1869 as Müze-i Hümayun (Imperial Museum). Müze-i Humayun, housing the archaeological works collected in the Hagia Irene Church, is the foundation of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The Tiled Kiosk built during the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror was converted into a museum because of the insufficiency of Hagia Irene. The Tiled Kiosk which is still under the administration of Istanbul Archaeological Museum was restored and opened its doors in 1880.

When Osman Hamdi Bey was assigned as the museum director in 1881, there was a breakthrough in Turkish museology. Osman Hamdi Bey excavated in Mount Nemrud, Myrina, Kyme, other Alolia Necropolises, and Lagina Hekate Temple and as a result of excavations he conducted in Sayda (Sidon) between 1887-1888, he reached the necropolis of King Sidon and returned to Istanbul with many sarcophagi, especially the famous one; Alexander the Great.

The oldest building (1472 CE) in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum complex is The Tiled Kiosk. The Tiled Kiosk Museum, which currently displays examples of Turkish tiles and ceramics, is one of the oldest examples of Ottoman civil architecture in Istanbul.

The building, which was used as the Museum of Ancient Oriental Works, was constructed by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1883 as Sanayi-i Nefise school, that is, the Academy of Fine Arts. The architect of the building was Alexander Vallaury, who would later build the Istanbul Archaeological Museum Classic building.

The Archaeological Museum stands out as one of the rare buildings constructed as a museum in that time period in the world. It is one of the most beautiful and splendid examples of neo-classical architecture in Istanbul. It reads the ‘Asar-ı Atika Museum’ (Museum of Ancient Works) in Ottoman language on the pediment. The writing on the tughra belongs to Sultan II. Aldulhamid.

A new museum building was needed to display magnificent works such as Iskender Tomb, crying women Tomb, Lycia Tomb and Tabnit tomb, which were brought to Istanbul from Sidon King Necropolis excavation performed by Osman Hamdi Bey between 1887 and 1888. Across from The Tiled Kiosk, Istanbul Archeological Museums Classical Building, built by the famous architect Alexandre Vallaury, was opened on June 13th, 1891.

THE TILED KIOSK MUSEUM

This mansion was commissioned by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1472 and is one of the oldest examples of civil architecture in Istanbul. The portico, which has 14 marble columns, was constructed during the reign of Sultan Abdül Hamit I (1774–89) after the original burned down in 1737.

The entrance of the mansion is a single storey while the back of the building adds another storey, and there is a 14-column marble porch at the entrance. The mansion’s antechamber is decorated with mosaic china work and has six rooms and one central hall.

On display here are Seljuk, Anatolian and Ottoman tiles and ceramics dating from the end of the 12th century to the beginning of the 20th century. The collection includes İznik tiles from the period between the mid-14th and 17th centuries when that city produced the finest colored tiles in the world. When you enter the central room you can’t miss the stunning mihrab from the Ibrahim Bey Imâret in Karaman, built-in 1432.

MUSEUM OF ANCIENT ORIENT

The Museum of the Ancient Orient building was also designed by the renowned architect Alexandre Vallaury, again by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1883.

Cuneiform tablets find from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and the Pre-Islamic Arabian Peninsula await their visitors in this museum. The museum collection includes rare works of art such as the Steele of Akkadian King Naram Sin, the Kadesh Peace Treaty, a Love Poem from the 8th-century, and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon.

HOME OF EVERYDAY LIFE, NATURE AND MYTHOLOGY MOSAICS

The mosaics unearthed in excavations in the northeastern section of the cloister in Eastern Roman Grand Palace in 1935 are magnificent both in terms of artistic and in terms of the richness of depictions of the scenes. The works exhibited in the Great Palace Mosaics Museum, dated between 450-550 AD do not have religious content. The depictions took from daily life, nature and mythology probably owe their vitality to the many experts under the leadership of the leading masters of the era.

The museum is located inside the Arasta Market in the Blue Mosque Complex, and it was formed to cover the mosaic floor treatment which remained partially preserved in the northeastern part of the colonnaded courtyard of the Great Palace belonging to the Eastern Roman Period. Only 180 square meters of the mosaic area was uncovered.

The Great Palace Mosaics Museum was under the new management of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum in 1953. As of 1979, it became a unit of the Hagia Sophia Museum. The restoration and conservation, started in 1982 with the protocol between the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums of the Ministry of Culture and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, was completed in 1997.

LIZARD EATING GRIFFON OR THE GOAT MILKING MAN MOSAICS

The mosaic grains of limestone, terracotta and colored stones have an average size of 5mm. ‘Opus Vermiculite’ style descriptions were placed in between the marble pieces whereas the ‘Fishscale’ technique is applied to the white marble parts. Besides, the depictions are bounded by contours. The most outstanding mosaics in the museum are scenes describing lizard eating griffon, fighting elephant and lion, a mare breastfeeding its colt, goose shepherding children, man milking a goat, child feeding his donkey, young girl carrying a jug bears eating apples, and fighting hunter and tiger. There are 150 human and animal figures and 90 different themes on the mosaics.

WHILE YOU’RE HERE

Make sure you see the Blue Mosque! It was built by Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, one of the students of Sinan the Architect by the order of Sultan Ahmed I in the 17th century. It is also known as the “Blue Mosque” because there are 21 thousand 43 eye-catching Iznik tiles on its walls to the second window. Since Sultan Ahmed 14, is the 14th Sultan, there are 14 minaret balconies. Its complex is one of the largest building complexes in Istanbul. Sultan I Ahmed’s tomb is also adjacent to the mosque garden.

“I either take Constantinople or Constantine me.”

                                           Fatih Sultan Mehmet Han

The Panorama 1453 History Museum, established by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in 2009, holds the title of ‘the world’s first full-panoramic museum’. As one of the most popular spots in Istanbul, the museum gives its visitors a chance to relive the conquest of Istanbul.

The Museum is open between 08:00 and 18:00 every day.

PHYSICAL VENUE

Panorama 1453 Museum of History is composed of two main sections. The first section starts from the entrance and is situated on the way to the panoramic picture. Panorama 1453 permanent exhibition, which is prepared to be permanent in this way, is located there.

Modern miniature works that narrate the establishment of the city of Istanbul, the siege and conquest of the city, the life of Fatih Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, the laws, arts, civilization, culture and construction works of the city, take place at the exhibition as supported with the original miniatures, engraving, and pictures of the wars in a present perspective. And the entrance of the platform where the panoramic picture exists begins at the end of the exhibition.
At the end of a short and dark corridor, the visitors will find themselves at the dawn of May 29, 1453, and bear witness to the moment of stepping in the city.

As it is a full panoramic picture, Panorama 1453 Museum of History enables the visitors on the platform to discover and understand the heart and soul of thousands of soldiers of Sultan Mehmed III say Allahuakbar with the company of the Janissary March. However, the work exhibited at “Istanbul 1453 Panoramic Museum” has no end, therefore the visitor that watches the picture cannot perceive the actual dimensions of it with the optical habits.

PHYSICAL LOCATION

The area selected and preferred for the construction of Panorama 1453 Museum of History is also meaningful because the museum rises on the area that used to be the Thrace Terminal in Topkapı and is situated inside Topkapı Culture Park today, a place that witnesses the initial points through which the soldiers entered in the city.

From the point where the museum stands, one would see the city walls of Edirnekapı on the left-hand side, and the city walls of Topkapı, that is the gateway through which the soldiers of the Ottoman Empire entered the city for the first operation that renamed Konstantiniyy as Islambol and finally as Istanbul, across to it, and the city walls of Silivrikapı on the right-hand side.

The young and the elder from 7 to 70 experience the phenomenon of the conquest in the most efficient manner at the museum, have the opportunity of examining these city walls in “three to five steps of distance”, breathing the air at the areas where quarters were set up, and also have recreation and relaxation inside Topkapı Culture Park where the museum is located.

REMEMBRANCE MONEY

The remembrance money that bears the signature of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and the logo of the museum are a service offered so that the visitors have a token to remind this day. The visitors may buy remembrance money at Panorama 1453 Museum of History from the remembrance money vending machine.

SOUVENIR SHOP

When you leave Panorama 1453 after a nice day, you can find souvenirs that will remind you of the history and you can share with your friends in the Panorama 1453 souvenir shop.

A Small Model of a Big Country

Miniaturk, bringing together the rich architectural heritage of the civilizations that had ruled and left their marks on this ancient land from ancient ages to Rome, Byzantine, Seljuk Empire and the Ottoman Empire. 135 models in total, 62 from Istanbul, 60 from Anatolia and 13 from an Ottoman territory outside of Turkey, that were selected among thousands of architectural works based on their repute. All models are 1/25 of the real size.

                                                                                                                           Hagia Sophia

Miniaturk is not limited to Turkey and Turkish culture. It carries the life experiences of the nearby geography, including the values that give Anatolia its character. Reaching to the Golden Horn three thousand years ago, the traces left by the civilizations ruled by peace, tolerance, and justice are brought together in this park.

                                                                                                          The Dome of the Rock

On one side, the caravanserais, social complexes, madrasas, bridges, stations, piers, castles, city walls, tombs, mosques, churches, synagogues, palaces, mansions, obelisks, monuments, and sculptures, on the other side, unique natural formations from fairy chimnies to Pamukkale were selected by the meticulous work of an expert team.

                                                                                                                       Artemis Temple

Also, two of the seven wonders of the ancient ages, Artemis Temple and Halicarnassus Mausoleum, which were built in Anatolia and do not exist are displayed.

The total area of Miniaturk is 60.000 square meters. Every detail has been carefully designed to ensure visitors a quality experience while having fun in Miniaturk including the 15.000 square meters area where the models are located as well as parking area for 300 cars, restaurant, cafeteria, gift shop, exhibition hall, outdoor show area, children’s playground, ferryboat, remote-controlled boat, train, tale tree, mini-stadium with 4 biggest teams, chess hall and labyrinth area, Turkey-Istanbul simulation helicopter tour.

                                                                                                                      Fairy Chimneys

Miniaturk is one of the first addresses in Istanbul of local and foreign tourists and an ideal place for those who want to experience a fabulous and quick tour of Turkey. In short, it is Turkey’s Showcase.

When you leave Miniaturk after a nice day, you can find souvenirs which will remind you of the fun you had and you can share with your friends in the Miniaturk souvenir shop. It is a colorful and modern building.

The Miniaturk Souvenir Shop


When you leave Miniaturk after a nice day, you can find souvenirs which will remind you of the fun you had and you can share with your friends in the Miniaturk souvenir shop. It is a colorful and modern building.

The Miniaturk Restaurant and Cafe

The restaurants and the cafes are located in three different places: one in the car park on the Golden Horn shore, one in the entrance and one at the end of the park.

Introduction Video