So the second day of my whirlwind trip to Istanbul begun with breakfast again with the amazing view of the Blue Mosque before heading out to the archaeological museums. The museums of course are what I really came to see and I will be spending much time there at the end of my trip too but first for the scouting and the touristy part!
The archaeological museums in Istanbul are located behind the Hagia Sophia near Topkapi palace but I was surprised to see such a lack of people visiting them despite this prime location. They really were amazing. A fantastic collection of Mesopotamian, Greek and Anatolian artefacts in a number of buildings, nicely set out and easily accessible. And yet the museums always have parts of them closed because of the lack of funding and visitors. Such a shame. In fact it only sees around 200,000 visitors a year which isn’t all the much when you think how much it has and how big the complex is.
There are three main museums in the complex: The Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Museum of Islamic Art AKA the Tiled Kiosk. They house over a million objects representing civilizations that have had interactions with the area. The complex was established in 1892 as part of an effort to modernize the Ottoman Empire. The collection includes the ornate Alexander Sarcophagus which was once believed to have be prepared for Alexander the Great himself. Other famous pieces include The Kadesh Peace Treaty of 1258 BC, signed between Ramesses II and Hattusili III, the oldest known peace treaty in the world. It also includes the Lycian tomb, the glazed tile images of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, statues of the Roman Era, Sidon sarcophagi, Troy exhibit, and artefacts from the early civilisations of the area.
Admittedly though the best thing was locating the inscriptions I needed to look at later in the trip for my research work. Yay!
Next stop, after a very late lunch, The Grand Bazaar! And my goodness was that an experience. For those of you unfamiliar with it, The Grand Bazaar was founded in 1461 by the Sultan Mehmet II designed as the trading heart of the Empire. In addition to shops, banks, storerooms and cafes, it used to hold accommodation, baths, mosques and schools, but is today mostly a mass of shops. It has been destroyed several times by earthquakes and fires but is still going strong.
Why I say this was an experience relates to the people you meet inside the bazaar. Notably the male shop owners shouting things you would certainly not hear in polite society. But as long as you are prepared for this it isn’t too bad. And I did like the comments referring to us three girls and one guy as Charlies’ Angels. I’m sure it was not original but it was amusing. Especially when we explained that the male in our party was more like Bosley than Charlie.
Just don’t buy anything in the Bazaar. They will charge you out the ear and while bartering is fun it can be long and unnecessary. Just go to the next street over beside but outside the Bazaar and buy what you want for a fraction of the Bazaar price. Trust me we checked.
Next Stop: Dig site. Near the town of Gazipasa in Southern Turkey. Check out the FACEBOOK page for more regular updates!
- Archaeology Travel Blog: Istanbul pt. 1 (graecomuse.wordpress.com)
- Byzantine Imperial Mosaics in Istanbul (turkischland.wordpress.com)
- Istanbul Holidays (ebookers.com)
- Izmir- I Venture Outside of Istanbul (turkischland.wordpress.com)
- The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey – Photo a day, July 16, 2012 (turkischland.wordpress.com)
- Turkey: Istanbul, Hagia Sophia (anotherheader.wordpress.com)