Grand Palace Mosaic Museum: Istanbul’s Historic Courtyard

Located right next to the Blue Mosque, the touristic center of Istanbul, the Grand Palace Mosaic Museum, which was opened to visitors in 1953, exhibits valuable mosaics. But to understand this place, let’s talk briefly about what the Grand Palace is.

Emperor Constantine came here in 324 AD and founded Constantinople, also known as the Second Rome. He built a palace like the buildings on the Palatino Hill in Rome. This palace was located from Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome to the sea. The mosaic in the Great Palace Mosaic Museum is from a mosaic floor in the courtyard of one of the buildings south of the Great Palace.

Buyuk Saray Mozaikleri Muzesi Eserleri
Buyuk Saray Mozaikleri Muzesi Zemin Mozaigi

The mosaics in the foundation of the Great Palace, built during the Byzantine Empire, are among the most important artifacts in this museum. Only about 200 m2 of the 1872 m2 mosaic-covered floor in the courtyard of the Great Palace has survived to the present day. These mosaics were on the floor of a closed courtyard called peristyle, surrounded by columns. The area between here and the Hippodrome was always decorated with mosaics.

Buyuk Saray Mozaikleri Muzesi Mozaik Eserleri
Buyuk Saray Mozaikleri Muzesi Mozaik Tasvirleri

On the walls of the museum are mosaics from the Great Palace, which was built in a similar period. The mosaics include scenes from real life such as hunting scenes, village life, fighting animals, country life, children, as well as mythological depictions such as myths and exotic creatures, and scenes depicting unusual animals. You shouldn’t expect works spanning a wide period like the Zeugma Mosaic Museum or the Hatay Archeology Museum, but the mosaics exhibited in the museum were made between 527 and 565 AD. Since most of the artifacts have survived to the present day in good condition, visiting the museum is just as enjoyable.

Elephant and lion fight scene mosaic
Elephant and lion fight scene mosaic
Two children sitting on the back of a camel and their guide mosaic
Two children sitting on the back of a camel and their guide mosaic

What are the entrance fee and visiting hours of the Great Palace Mosaics Museum?

The museum opens at 09:00 and can be visited every day of the week until 19:00 in the summer season and until 17:00 in the winter season.

Where is the Great Palace Mosaic Museum and how to get there?

Although it is very close to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia Museum, the Great Palace Mosaics Museum, which is unknown to many people and has not yet been discovered, is located in the Arasta Bazaar within the complex of the mosque. When you pass the mosque, go down the stairs next to it and enter the bazaar. As you walk through the bazaar, you will see the museum sign towards the middle, and if you don’t see it, don’t miss the direction indicating the direction of the entrance to the museum, which is the exit of the museum. Once you enter the museum, you don’t leave from the same place, you wander around inside and end up in the Arasta Bazaar. Then you realize that while you were visiting the museum, you passed under Arasta to the other side.

Don’t miss the Grand Palace Mosaics Museum, one of the hidden treasures of Istanbul, while in Sultanahmet. You should visit this museum at least once to see our history up close and shape our knowledge about the Grand Palace a little more.