The Great Palace of Constantinople, built in 330 AD, was home to Byzantine emperors for over 800 years. After taking the city in 1453, the Ottomans destroyed the palace eventually erected the Blue Mosque on top of it.
Excavations in the 1920s uncovered some brilliant mosaic patterns which had once decorated the palace’s floors and walls and these have now been preserved in the Mosaic Museum.
The entrance to the museum is all but hidden in the middle of the Arasta Bazaar and we walked right past it a couple times. It’s believed that there were up to 80 million individually-laid mosaic tiles. The mosaic tiles are sandstone and marble cubes, red, blue, green and and black glass, russet-colored brick cubes and a few semiprecious stones.
The scenes depicted on the mosaics are from daily life and nature (real and mythical). They include scenes of a griffin eating a lizard, a fight between an elephant and a lion, a mare nursing her filly,and children herding geese.
What struck us particularly were the realistic expressions on the faces of the people. Also, many of the mosaics are displayed, without cover, on the wall where visitors can easily touch them and, perhaps, even damage them. We haven’t put any titles or captions on the these photos; they’re just there to watch!