Istanbul, Turkey. Day 4
Istanbul Archaeological Museum
We started the day with a tour of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum which is situated nearby the famous Topkapi Palace. Most people give this excellent museum a miss but it is their loss. So remember to place this museum in your itinery when you visit Istanbul as you will not be disappointed.
There are three main buildings: The Archaeology Museum, The Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Kiosk. The Museum of the Ancient Orient houses pieces from the Hittite empires and pre-Islamic items from the Ottoman Empire.
The Tiled Kiosk
This kiosk was made by Sultan Mehmet in 1472 and was used as a museum between 1875 to 1891. It was open to public in 1953 and houses Islamic and Turkish works of art. The entrance is decorated with mosaic enamels and has 14 columns.
Inside the Archaeology Museum
The main building is the Archaeology Museum. There are several sections : The sarcophagus gallery, the galleries of statues, exhibition saloons and a children's museum.
In the galleries of statues, you will be overwhelmed by the collections of statues, busts and reliefs from the Archaic Period to the Byzantium Period. Above is the bust of the Poetess Sapho made out of marble and it was huge. I stood next to it and had my picture taken as a scale for its size. There are a whole lot more of pictures of the statues but I can't put them all here, or you will still be waiting for the page to load.
Mummy of Sidonian King Tabnit
Next up is the sarcophagi gallery. In Room 1, it houses the magnificent sarcophagi from the Royal Necropolis of Sidon and has the mummy of Sidonian King Tabnit on display as well.
The most interesting exhibit in this gallery would be Alexander Sarcophagus made out of Pentelic marble. It bears the name Alexander because of its artwork depicting the famous general battling the Persian armies. However, despite its name, this sarcophagus belongs to King Abdalonymos. But there is an alternative theory that suggests that the owner could be Mazaeus, a noble Persian whom Alexander appointed to govern Babylon.
The side carvings of the Alexander Sarcophagus
This sarcophagus was constructed late in the 4th century. The long sides of the sarcophagus depicts Alexander in his battle with the Persian army while the short sides depicts the hunting of lions and panthers. The sarcophagus is protected by a glass case. Pictures can be taken in this museum but without flash. Guards are ever watchful of those with cameras.
The Sarcophagus of Mourning Women
Close up of the sarcophagus of Mourning Women
Another interesting sarcophagus on display is the Sarcophagus of Mourning Women, named so because of the carvings of women in various acts of mourning. The artist is unknown dates back to mid 4th century. It still bears traces of its original colour.
Floor Mosaic depicting Orpheus
This floor mosaic was discovered in Jerusalem and has Orpheus as its central figure. This is an example of Byzantine provincial art.
Lunch in the form of toast with cheese and meat
After touring the museum, we had a nice small lunch in the museum cafe situated at the park which is decorated with statues. Our next stop would be the Dolmabahçe Palace which we went by taxi. And that was some ride! Taxi drivers in Istanbul are really....er...interesting.
Dolmabahçe Palace, Main Gate
Main Gate up close
But when we got there, the place was CLOSED! It closes every Monday (which every other museum and places in Turkey closes) but also on Thursday. And today was Thursday. We were disappointed needless to say, since it was our last day in Istanbul. But luck was still on our side as we had time to kill on our last day in Turkey before boarding the flight back home. And so we had time to visit the palace and that will be in the last post.
View from the Galata Tower
Since our plans were thrown askew by the closing of Dolmabahçe Palace, we decided to visit the Galata Tower, which we also went by taxi. I had posted pictures of the Tower in my previous post. It was constructed in 1348 as part of the Genoese fortifications of Galata. However, now, it is the only surviving building since the demolition of the fortifications in the 19th century.
The Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque
From this tower, you have a spectacular 360 degrees view of Istanbul city. You can also see the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya as seen in the picture above.
Woman enjoying the view
However, there isn't much to do in Galata Tower except for the view. The area surrounding this tower, İSTİKLAL CADDESİ, is one of the famous sites in Istanbul and houses plenty of bars, music shops, art galleries, cafes etc in its 19th century architectural buildings. We also took a ride in the world's second oldest subway, the Tünel. From here, we took a tram to Taksim Square, the heart of Istanbul's shopping district.
Taksim Square, Republic Monument
View from Taksim Square
At the square is the Republic Monument which features Kemal Atatürk, General Ismet Inönü, General Fevzi Çakmak, and other leaders of the Turkish republic.
As we were walking, we passed by Taksim Sütiş, a famous dessert shop and decided to stop to eat. Above from top left is tavuk göğsü (chicken breast milk pudding), kazan dibi (slightly burnt milk pudding) and Çikolatalı Sütiş Muhallebi (chocolate topping milk pudding). The tavuk göğsü is something I have never eaten before. Imagine chicken breast meat in sweet milk pudding! But it was delicious. Then we went shopping. Actually I was just window shopping but the others bought quite a few stuff.
After shopping, we met up with Basak's old friend for dinner at Çiçek Pasajı or also known as the Flower Passage. It was built in 1876 and was a famous place with a shopping arcade and apartments. However, it declined and now houses several restaurants side by side along the "passage".
Fish for dinner
We had dinner at Bahar Restaurant in Çiçek Pasajı. Along with the usual appetizers, we also had liver (which I love) and rice stuffed clams which was delicious. We wanted to eat brain as well but they were out of it. Too bad. Fish was our main dish and it was okay.
Then after a long day, we went back to the hotel. On our way, realising it was our last night here, I decided to see the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya in its nighttime glory.
Then we headed back to the hotel to rest for our next trip to Kuşadası.