MUSEUM OF TURKISH AND ISLAMIC ARTS
Since 1983, the museum has occupied the 16th century building situated along the western side of Sultanahmet Square (the Hippodrome). The building used to be the palace of Ibrahim Pasha. Apart from the imperial palaces, it is the only extant private palace. The edifice surrounds the three sides of a terrace, forming a courtyard in the middle. Following the entrance, the first section of the museum is reached by a staircase from the courtyard. Rare ancient works of art created in various Islamic are on display in the rooms. Stone and baked clay objects, ceramic and glassware, and handwritten books are some of the most valuable examples of their period. The carpets exhibited in large halls occupying the section of the building with wide windowsin the facade, are magnificent examples of the famous 13th – 20th century hand-knotted Turkish carpets. This matchless collection is the richest of its kind in the world. The 13th century Seljouk carpets and rare examples from the following centuries are restored and exhibited much care.
THE MUSEUM OF CARPETS AND KILIMS
The administration of Pious Foundations of the Turkish Republic owns an extensive collection of old carpets and kilims, but only a part of this collection is displayed. The carpets are exhibited in the Sultan’s Pavilion in the Sultanahmet Mosque,and the kilims in the vaulted lower galleries entered through the rear gardens of the mosque. The best examples of 13th-20th century Turkish carpets are exhibited along the ramp which is the entrance to the pavilion,and in the rooms where the Sultan used to rest. The carpets and kilims on displey have been restored and displayed in a contemporary fashion.
THE MOSAIC MUSEUM
The marketplace behind the Sultanahmet Mosque is situated on the remains of an old palace dated between the 4th and 6th centuries. The mosaics of the palace were discovered at the lower edge of the market, in their original places.It is known that these mosaics, unearthed in the 1930s, used to decorate the floor of a large hall in the palace.Various hunting scenes,scenes from everyday life and impressive decorative designs exhibit high quality workmanship. Buds encircled by bent acanthus leaves, a Medusa head and scenes from a lion hunt are some o the most attractive examples. Scenes depicted by the style of Antakya Mosaic School (Roman Age), are extremely realistic. Following the discovery of these mosaics unearthed in other sections of the city were framed by concrete panels and brought here to be displayed. Restroration of the market place has been completed and Mosaic Museum has been reopened to the public.
THE YEREBATAN CISTERN ( THE BASILICA CISTERN )
The largest and the most magnificent covered cistern in Istanbul is entered through a small building to the west of Haghia Sophia Square. The ceiling of this forest of columns is made of brick and is cross-vaulted. A street runs above a section of the cistern. Due to a basilica once situated on the cistern, it is known as the Basilica Cistern. It was built in the 6th century, in the reign o Justinian, to supply water to the paşace complex nearby.
There are twenty eight columns in each of the twelve rows of columns (a total of 336), and the cistern measures 140 metres by 70 metres. Some of the columns have plain but most of them have Corinthian capitals. The water levet in the cistern changes from season to season. There are pipes at different levels in the eastern wall and water used to be distributed through these pipes. The traces left by different leves of water can be seen on the columns.
During the restoration porject initated in 1984, the floor of the cistern was scraped, and when the two metres-deep mud was removed, the original brick pavement was brought to light. Also, two Medusa heads which serve as the bases of two of the columns were discovered.