Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Museum and a Park.


Feeling good! After our very satisfying, finger lickin' good luck of tavuk kanat aka grilled chicken wings, it was time to go back to doing more sightseeing.

We had to head back to Gülhane Park which is where the The Istanbul Archaeology Museums are located. Of course, I told Bro that I knew the way back and I did but we somehow ended up several blocks out of the way - way past Çemberlitaş Hamamı on Divan Yolu Cd. Thankfully, we had plenty of energy to recover from our detour. That and it really was a pleasant day for a stroll in the city.


We eventually made it to the entrance and got our tickets. I had always thought it was a single museum but in fact, it's a complex of museums.

We started our visit at the museum closest to the entrance - The Museum of Ancient Orient which houses artifacts from pre-Greek Anatolia and Mesopotamia and from pre-Islamic Egypt and the  Arabian Peninsula. Most of these artifacts were found during archaeological excavations carried out between the late 19th century and World War I, and brought to İstanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, then the ruler of those countries.


The exhibition rooms were all on a single floor and were all interconnected. It wasn't a large museum but everything was well displayed.

Shockingly for me, I had completely used up all the space on the SD card for my Nikon camera.  At first, I wasn't worried because I always carry a spare SD card.  But as Murphy's Law would have it, the day I really needed the spare card was the day I didn't have it with me.  Damn.  I  could have deleted some photos but that would have taken more time than I was willing to spend at the moment.

So it was on to Plan B - using my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone to take photos.  The camera on my Samsung works really well in good daylight but it's more of a challenge taking photos in dim light - more so than my dSLR. So, a lot of the photos are blurry.  Bro graciously offered to give me the SD card in his camera.  I thanked him for being so kind but as I told him, the SD card is formatted specifically to the camera so if I had taken his card, it would have wiped out all the photos that he had taken.

Lesson learned.  Leave spare SD card in backpack!

After taking a few minutes to recover from my camera debacle, I continued my walk through the exhibits.

I will admit yet again, I am not much of a museum person and often, I just end up walking about and taking photos of things that catch my eye.  So, here are a few of those photos.

Devotinal statuettes dating to 4th-1st centuries BC.


I have to admit, I did really like these tiles for some reason or other.  These mosaic bricks date back to Babylonian times.  I was thinking the horse would make for a really cool background for a really cool outdoor swimming pool.  Maybe someday I will have that pool and I'll use this mosaic as a design inspiration :-)


This pair of glazed and embossed bricks belong to the monumental double-gate connecting the inner and outer walls of Babylon and were dedicated to goddess Ishtar.


For some reason, people were crowded around this head so I decided to take a photo of the description and the head. I had no idea was a lamassu is so I had do to a bit of research. A lamassu  is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted with a bull or lion's body, eagle's wings, and human's head


Lamassu were often placed as guardians at gateways to palaces and temples to protect the buildings from demonic forces.  This particular lamassu head dates back to the 8th century BC.


Ancient door decorated with copper repoussé.



Across the way from the Museum of Ancient Orient was another museum but it was closed so we followed the path which led to the rest of the museum complex.  Our stroll took us through small area filled with stone ruins.



I crossed paths with a gentleman who insisted I take a photo of this massive head of Medusa.  From its size and shape, I'm guessing it was used as the base of a column, similar to the bronze ones we saw inside the Basilica Cistern.



Time for a break.  It was such a pretty little park.  We found a bench nearby.


Next, it was off to see the collections housed in the Tiled Kiosk Museum. 


The museum's collection consists of about 2000 artifacts belonging to the Seljuk and Ottoman eras, dating from the 11th-20th centuries AD.  Given the small size of the museum, only a small fraction of the overall collection is on display.



I did a quick walk through of the place.  When Bro and I finally met up with each other, he had me go back to see this one magnificent work of art.  Even Bro was captivated by it.

It is a tile mihrab from the Karamanoğlu İbrahim Bey Imaret (public kitchen) built in 1432.  The mihrab dates back to circa second half of the 14th century or early 15th century and was made using the a colorful glazing technique which was popular in the early Ottoman era.  This is one instance where I wish I had had my dSLR to take photos with - the file details of the painted tiles would have come up far better.  Oh well.  Still a good memory.


Located across the way from the Tiled Kiosk Museum is the Archaeological Museum.  There are two floors to this building.  On the ground floor are sculptures from the Ancient Age -  from the Archaic Era to the Roman Era.  On the upper floor is the Treasury section, the Non-Islamic and Islamic Coin Cabinets and the Library.  Unfortunately, the section that houses several of the museum's most important artifacts -  the Alexander Sarcophagus, the Sarcophagus of Crying Women and the Sarcophagus of Tabnit was closed.







In many ways, the 2nd floor collection was the most interesting collection but because so much of it reminded me of what we had seen in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, I lost interest.  So, I just whizzed through.  If I ever come back to Istanbul, I must come back to this place and give it more attention.






The most fascinating set of artifacts I saw was the Palmyran tomb chamber.  The one on display is a reproduction of one that was built by a rich Palmyran family for at least 219 persons. The original tomb is in the Valley of Tombs in Palmyra, but the portraits in the model constructed for the museum are original. The corpses were placed in drawer-like tomb compartments lined up vertically and horizontally.  Limestone slabs, with human busts in high relief and with inscriptions of the person's identity, sealed the openings of the compartments.


One of the panels had been removed to show a human skeleton laid out behind it.



It was a really short visit to the museum but by this time in our trip, we've seen so much historical stuff, we're filled to the brim with seeing artifacts.

Time for a park break.  We'd walked by Gülhane Park three times now.  It was time to actually step foot in it.

At the entrance is a fountain that welcomes visitors to the park.



Gülhane Park was once part of the outer garden of Topkapı Palace but today it's a popular public. park in Istanbul.  The last time I was here was on an early afternoon in early December 2008.  Today, there were maybe a few more leaves on the trees, but otherwise, the park looked and felt the same to me.  I love it here.



Bro wanted to explore the park but I was content to just sit and watch the world go by.  It's so peaceful and quiet here that it was amazing to think that the hustle and bustle of Istanbul was less than 100 feet from where we were sitting.


The welcome fountain at the entrance was not there in 2008 but there were two other fountains - located near the bridges shown in the photo below.  On that day, only one fountain was spouting water.  Today, both fountains were going at it....that is until I wanted to take a photo and then they stopped!  I waited for them to start back up but nothing.  My luck; it has not been good all afternoon!


After our brief respite in the park, we decided to call it a day.  Early for us but I think we were both a bit mentally exhausted from all the sightseeing these past few days.

We went to the Gülhane tram stop.  For some very odd reason, we couldn't find the kiosk to buy our jetons.  We did make it back to Tophane, on the tram, but I won't tell you how.

Before we went back to our apartment, we made a pit stop to one of the local supermarkets.  I wanted to buy some packaged mantı and spinach. We were going to have dinner at home tonight.

Bro did the cooking honors which I appreciated. He did this all the while (jokingly) complaining that he was missing out on having dinner at Özkonak.  We most certainly have enjoyed our meals there not to mention the convenience of not having to cook for ourselves.  I told him we do have one more night to go so perhaps....


Our simple meal of mantı tossed with the sucuk I had bought earlier in the day served with sauteed spinach.


It really was a quiet night for both of us.  Part of me is already sad at the fact that we only have one more day in Istanbul before our month long, amazing odyssey in Greece and Turkey comes to an end.  I don't want to think about it now.  Tomorrow, we have a day trip planned that I'm very much looking forward to.

Goodnight from Istanbul!