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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 between 09:00-19:00 (from 01 April to 31 October), 09:00-17:00 (from 31 October to 01 April).
Hours of Ticket Sale
Ticket counters close 30 minutes before the museum closing time.
30 TL (about €4,5) at ticket window on location
Where to Buy Tickets
You can buy them at ticket windows. There won’t be so much crowd. You can also find guided museum tours. We put the links to the official buying channels below.
Ticket Options and Prices
There are several options:
- Buy directly at the ticket window on location.
- Buy Great Palace Mosaics Museums only guided tours.
- Buy Istanbul Museum Pass.
General Admission Tickets
Istanbul Archaeology Museums entrance fee on your own is 30 TL (about €4,5). This is the ticket window on location option.
The general admission tickets will let you enter the museum and explore on your own. You should know that there is very little explanation of the architecture by signs, plates, etc.
If you just want to have quick look inside without need of understand the history behind, and waiting in the queue is not a problem, this is the ticket for you.
The skip the line access tickets with a guide (see below) can be little bit expensive but you’ll definitely experience and enjoy the museum.
This is the best option we recommend especially for first time visitors. And we always recommend opting for an extended English guided tour offered exclusively by several historian guides of Istanbul.
When you book you’ll get an email confirmation with meeting details (in front of the Hagia Sophia Museum) and there your name being checked from the official guide’s list with your confirmation number.
See below the recommended Istanbul Great Palace Mosaics Museum guided tours with fast track entry.
Combo Guided Tour: Great Palace Mosaics + IST Archaeology Museums
This is offered by Istanbul Welcome Card and we highly recommend. You’ll explore two museums with a historian guide, and have fast track entry. You’ll enjoy the essentials of Greek Mythology and Byzantine Culture through these two museums which are one of the most important gateways to the heart of the mythology in Istanbul.
- Explore the Great Byzantine Palace Mosaics Museum
- Learn the stories of the mosaics from a mythology lover
- Visit the Istanbul Archaeology Museums
- Mesmerize with the statues of ancient gods and goddesses
- Travel in time for 3 hours
Ticket price: €30
Rebooking & Cancellation Policy: You have missed your meeting time? No problem, you can come to our next meeting time or day. You want to cancel? No problem, you can cancel your reservation anytime and get your refund.
Istanbul Museum Pass
Great Palace Mosaics Museum is included in the Istanbul Museum Pass. You can buy Museum Pass to visit this museum. Note that Museum Pass is only worth it if you want to visit more than five Istanbul museums. Read more and book from our Istanbul Museum Pass page.
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
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