The Great Palace Mosaic Museum
Address: Arasta Çarşısı, Sultanahmet Mahallesi Fatih
Phone: (0212) 518 1205
Web Site: ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr
Working Hours: Summer Season: 09:00 - 16:30
Winter Season: 09:00 - 18:30
Open 7 days a week
This museum (Büyük Saray Mozaikleri Müzesi) is situated just off Sultanahmet Square and houses the mosaics uncovered from the remains of the Great Palace of Constantinople, which was originally built in 328 as a counterpart for the Palatine Palace in Rome and re-built during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I around 550, just before the building of Hagia Sophia.
The museum is situated near the palace itself, and the mosaics, which formed the peristyle courtyard, were unearthed beside the Arasta Bazaar in the 1930’s and 1950’s. The mosaics are shown in the museum in the form that they would have appeared in the courtyard. They are made up of an estimated 80 million tesserae of colored glass, brick, limestone, and semi-precious stone.
The pictures depicted on the mosaics are mostly of everyday Byzantine life; hunters spearing a tiger, monkeys catching birds, children herding ducks, and a man milking a goat, among other things. Most interestingly, there is a scene depicting children playing with a hoop, wearing green and blue colors that are thought to evoke the famous “Greens and Blues” of the racing chariot teams at the Hippodrome.