The Great Palace Mosaics Museum, also known as Istanbul Mosaic Museum, is an impressive mosaics museum situated in the Arasta Bazaar within the Blue Mosque complex. Being one of the organizational units of the directorate of Hagia Sophia Museum, the museum hosts one of the most beautiful mosaics in the world, that were preserved from the Great Palace of Constantinople, during the East Roman period from 610 until 641 A.C.. Especially the ones dated to AD 450-550.
General Info & History
During the East Roman period, artists who have come from the various regions of the country have made a huge mosaic with 40,000 pieces to the ground that covers 1,870 square meters. And afterwards, during the 7th and 8th century, when the painting was forbidden, the ground mosaics have been covered with huge marble panels and they were forgotten until they were revealed in 1921. And that also shows the reason that why those mosaics are in good condition today.
During the era of the Ottoman Empire, due the possible danger that may come from the sea, the Ottoman palaces were moved to Golden Horn region and a residential district were established over the area of the mosaics (having no idea that they were there), with the order of Fatih Sultan Mehmed, the conqueror of Istanbul.
And after a big fire on this Ottoman residential area, those hidden mosaics have showed up. Diggings and excavation works started in the year 1921 and and continued in between 1935-1951, and finally the mosaics and the remnants of the Byzantium palaces have been revealed. And so the site was declared as Great Palace Mosaics Museum in 1997.
You’ll see one of the most beautiful mosaics in the world. The mosaic stones at the museum consist of limestone, earthenware and colored stones, and the portrayals are placed in between the marble pieces.
The mosaics at the museum has themes from daily life, nature and mythology like;
- a lizard eating gryphon,
- the fight of the elephant and lion,
- a child feeding his donkey,
- a young girl carrying a pot,
- lactation of mare,
- a goat milking man,
- a goose herding children,
- apple eating bears,
- the fight of the hunter and tiger and many more.
Visiting Hours & Admissions
Open every day from:
- 09:00-19:00 (from 01 April to 31 October)
- 09:00-17:00 (from 01 November to 31 March)
Ticket counters close 30 minutes before the museum closing time.
How to Get to the Museum
You’ll find the Great Palace Mosaics Museum in the heart of the Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome), in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Fatih district. Situated just in Arasta Bazaar within the Blue Mosque compound, on the sea side. See the location map.
The most practical way to get to Sultanahmet is via Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line).
- The closest tram stop is Sultanahmet.
- Sultanahmet Square and most of the connecting roads are closed for vehicle traffic except tram and tour buses.
- From Taksim, take the funicular to Kabatas (from taksim Square) or funicular to Karakoy (from Tunel square) and than take the tram.
- If you stay at the Sultanahmet hotels, than you easily walk to the museum.
Check our Sultanahmet page to see how to get to Sultanahmet in details.
Address: Arasta Çarşısı, Sultanahmet, Fatih, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 518 12 05