GRAND PALACE / GRAND PALACE MOSAIC MUSEUM

The area, beginning from Hippodrome and Hagia Sophia, extending to Sea of Marmara, is the region of Palaces. We learn details about Byzantine palaces from the extant written documents of historians and historiographers of that period. The most comprehensive of these is “Ceremonies” or “Book of Ceremony,” famous work of emperor VII. Constantine Porphyrogennetos (944-959). Researchers apply to this work for reference of names, unknown places, inner equipments, positions of Byzantine Palaces. Also we learn details about Grand Palace and other Byzantine palaces from memoirs of Italian ambassador Liutprand, who visits Constantinopolis in 9th Century and “Aleksios” named work of Anna Komnena, who is the daughter of emperor Alexios (1081-1118).

It was entered into Grand Palace, spreading into a large space in southern east direction of Sultan Ahmet Mosque and Hagia Sophia from the gate, named as Bronze Gate (Chalke) in Augustinian Square, surrounded with cloisters and located in front of Hagia Sophia Church. Structures such as palaces, palace guardian barracks, luxurious pictorial structures, churches, libraries, meeting buildings, luxurious palace residences, ceremony saloons are constructed in the space, arranged in the form of terraces.

Grand Palace, which is built during the period of Constantine The Great, suffers great damage during Nika Riot in 532 and emperor Iustinianos I (527-565) gets the structure repaired.

Emperors, taking the lead, make new structures and extend the space. Emperors abandon such great palaces with excessive costs, at the beginning of 10th century and reşide in the smaller palaces such as Magnaura and Blakherna. Grand Palace, which is plundered during the Crusade in 1204, is abandoned in the last periods of Byzantine. A small Turkish district is constituted in this space after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453 by Ottomans. As remains of destroyed structures and soils, arisen from foundation excavations are thrown into Area of Palaces especially during construction of Sultan Ahmet Mosque and Social Complex in this area in the Ottoman period, all structure remains of Byzantine period are underground for meters. Floor mosaics of Grand Palace are unearthed at the end of excavations from underground for meters, of Sultanahmet Bazaar, which is constructed here.

A courtyard with peristillium and having a floor, covered with mosaics and surrounded with columns of Grand Palace, is unearthed as a result of excavations of English scientists around Bazaar within Sultan Ahmet Social Complex between 1935-1938 and 1951-1954.

Floor mosaics cover an area with 250 square meters. Scenes from natüre, human life and mythology are depicted in these mosaics, dated as first half of A.D. 6th century. Some of depicted scenes are tiger hunting, mask with acanthus beard, gazelle grassing, fight between eagle and snake, shepherds herding goose, children at camel’s back, man milking the goat, bear eating the lamb, mare sucking her colt, wood load ed mule pulling down the rider at its back, Bellerophon and monster Khimaera, the child feding his donkey, fight between elephant and lion. Colored stone, color ed glass and earthenware mosaic pieces are used as material. As they are the floor mosaics, religious symbolsand motifs, which are used in the Christian art, are not used. Museum is opened for public visits in 1953.

Restoration and conservation Works of mosaics are performed and completed between 1983-1997 years within the cooperation between Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Austrian Academy of Sciences.

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