Checking into the Ayasofya Hotel, we found ourselves with one whole day in front of us. Hanane was exhausted but there were a few things I still wanted to see before we left Turkey.
I walked up the street past the Blue Mosque and across the Hippodrome to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts while Hanane showered and took a nap in our big plush bed. The museum holds a wealth of Turkish and Islamic art from the Ottoman and Seljuk periods along with beautiful pieces and implements from as early as the 8th Century A.D.
The museum building itself is the palace of Ibrahim Pasha which was built by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent’s own architects. Ibrahim Pasha was Suleyman’s Grand Vizier from 1523 to 1536. The building has elements which date back to 1500.
Ibrahim was choked to death and his wealth taken by the imperial government when after the Sultan’s death he voiced support for the wrong prince. That’s why I usually don’t pick one Prince over another.
The museum is filled with Turkish carpets, illuminated Qurans, calligraphy (at which the Ottomans excelled), carved and inlaid wood, glass, porcelain and stone treasures. I went through quicker than I would have preferred but felt that this was more of an exploratory mission.
The Turkish ethnographic exhibits were interesting though quite a bit like modern life in rural Morocco, I saw many things that are used daily in the house of my in-laws laid out as museum pieces.
I would have enjoyed lingering but a Canadian film crew was there and had set up some very hot lights for a TV shoot in that section.
While I was out I booked us seats at a Whirling Dervish performance. Originally, I had thought we might be going to Konya to see the real thing (no admission and not really for tourists) but since we hadn’t I thought it would be a shame to leave Turkey without seeing the whirling dervishes for which the country is famed.
The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art is open from 9 to 5 (closed Monday). Admission is 10 Lira.