Museums of Istanbul: Great Palace Mosaic Museum

Stand with your back to the rows of benches outside the entrance to the Blue Mosque facing Hagia Sophia (how lucky I am to have stood here, feeling like I was at a point depicted on a map so old foreigners were thought likely to have extra legs or one eye!). Turn to your left and walk, and on your left you will see some stairs down to the Arasta Bazaar. This market area was built at the same time as the Blue Mosque and walking here gives you a great sense of the larger mosque complex. The things sold here are beautiful examples of Turkey's famous textiles and tiles and mostly well out of my price range, but it's a lovely place for window shopping, quiet and car-less  About half way down on your left there is a gap and here you will find the entrance to the Grand Palace Mosaic Museum.

The mosaics in this small museum belonged to the peristyle court (columned porch or open colonnade within a building that might contain a garden - thank you Wikipedia ) of the Grand Palace of Constantinople and are thought to be from the 6th century. I love how fresh the designs still feel, especially the trees and stags. It only takes an hour to look at everything carefully but it is an hour well spent.

In my quest to experience 50 of Istanbul's museums over the next year there will be many like this that are not particularly places you would choose to entertain a baby and a toddler. The thing is that I have to survive their childhood with some semblance of my former personality intact! I know that I cannot help but nurture the children, the question is more about how I will feel when I get to the other side of this intense mothering. Ultimately, as well as opening their minds to life's possibilities, I want them to learn to delve inward when there is no external stimulus and to be still for a little while when it is needed. At the end of their childhood I want them to be able to see beauty rather than me having improved my finger-painting or cutting and sticking skills  (though of course they have their place). I want to help them feel they can change the adult world they will inhabit, and not lose myself in the childish one they will one day leave behind. Somehow despite the hours re-counting transport adventures, or reading the same story till Anton can correct errors made when my mind wanders, I have to try and remain a person that another adult can have a conversation with. Sometimes when Ville comes home I feel I have so little to tell, so little to offer. Not that he expects something other than I am, but I miss babbling out real thoughts to him. Children pull you from your thoughts with such regularity that it becomes easier not to try and go any distance, because I am there for them and I want them to feel the truth of it.

The other truth that I am tackling is that being happy to be here is something that we work at, it doesn't happen naturally. My big frustration this week is that I need to go to the school Anton will attend and ask for them to start a playgroup to prepare the children. A couple of hours a day would really help Anton have enough Turkish to start school with but I just don't have enough Turkish for this conversation. I keep putting it off. Whereas in the UK I would feel I could do everything possible to help Anton settle into school, here I feel out of my depth. Thankfully I have just started Turkish lessons (with the kids in tow of course!).

So visiting museums has plenty of purpose in my life right now. They are an adventure that works for Ruskin (well sometimes, he is 16!), Matti, Anton, Neve and ME! They remind me of the wealth of this city and the privilege it is to see its sights. They give some structure to my determination not to let the pavements or the interference hold me back. And a museum of mosaics is perfect of course, helping me imagine putting the picture together one tiny square at a time.

View of Blue Mosque from the museum entrance.


Anton and mosaics.

Anton and mosaics.

Anton running in the mosaic museum.

Visit the Facebook page or the Twitter page of this blog

5 thoughts on “Museums of Istanbul: Great Palace Mosaic Museum

  1. I have to tell you... your life and adventures in Istanbul seem to be so very exciting... I´m sure your children love this city!

  2. I love that bottom shot of Anton running. Great capture with the sun, shadows and your gorgeous boy, so much to look at.

  3. Wow! Your words made me think about those things myself. It reminds me of an article by Susan Wise Bauer, called Stop Cleaning the Kitchen and Read a Book. It's about making time to read, even in the midst of housework and mothering, but also about developing our minds and thinking beyond being mothers of small children. What you said really struck a cord with me, and inspires me to do more in the area of developing myself, and doing things beyond mothering. Milo has been such a hard baby that I've really lost a lot of that in the last two years. Thank you very much for the inspiration, Julia!

  4. I've had to bookmark this post so I can come back and read and re-read it. As often happens, I agree with Nicole! I am a bit speechless, but so happy to have read this tonight.

  5. This post struck such a cord with me, it is a wonderful description of how I often feel. Sometimes just leaving the house with children in tow every single day is hard and seeing you do this in an unfamiliar place and visiting the interesting places you visit is inspirational. I often feel a little lost in the all consuming role of mother and the 366 project for me is my chance to do something for myself and as we near the end of the year, I feel as if I have gained so much from doing it. Thank you for writing this post.


Proudly powered by Blogger
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.
Converted by