Day 05 – Istanbul – Museum of Turkish & Islamic Art – The Istabul Museum of Archeology

It was a slow start today and we ended up getting out of the hotel a little later than usual – we also stopped at a local laundry who will wash our clothes for 10TL per KG.  I will find out what my laundry weighs in the morning!

I was fuzzy again so I headed off to get a shave from my favorite local barber – I think he likes me as he not only gave me an awesome shave but also a head and neck massage.  I will see him again in 4 days!

Today was all about museums – the first was the Museum of Turkish & Islamic Art.  It’s not the best museum – it is old and doesn’t have good air handling but it does house a great selection of Turkish carpets (which is funny when you think that the buildings surrounding the museum also house “a fine selection of Turkish carpets”).  One man said to me today “You look like a carpet buyer” I told him that I better go home and change clothes to reflect that I wasn’t.

The neat part is that the museum is actually the 16th century palace of Ibrahim Pasha – almost a castle as it was built for defense!

His story is crazy.  He was a palace slave who became boyhood friends with the future Sultan and when the Sultan became sultan he was promoted and rose up through the ranks to be the Grand Vizier and even married the Sultan’s sister. He became so powerful that people got jealous and the Sultan’s wife accused of being disloyal and they had him strangled.

Back to the museum. Metal detectors and x-ray machines on the way in and no video allowed.  They always look at my equipment funny – the video camera is on a metal mount that makes it look fancier than it is – at Topkapi yesterday as I explained to the guy it was a regular camera he just smiled and said “No one saw it – just take it in”.  Today they were a little more suspicious.  To be honest I am not much for shooting video in museums – you can get a quick overview or flavor but it isn’t a real experience.

There was a neat exhibition that mixed an artists’ work with items form the collection.  It was supposed to relate to the 5 senses and he had braille on his painting and thick overpaint that invited the viewer to touch alternate images on the paintings. Very nicely done.

They also have a “Turkish Coffee Experience” where for 30 minutes you get hands on training in Turkish Coffee – I was tempted but you don’t get to film it so I skipped it (for now).

The museum is nice – old – and hot. Very hot for a museum and very stuffy.

I got busted using my still camera to shoot some panning video of one of the carpets – they didn’t do anything but I got a stern talking to.  They didn’t notice that the video camera was on for a lot of my walk through but to be honest it wasn’t good footage anyways.

After the museum (and 30 minutes of me trying to tell the story of Ibrahim Pasha on video in the garden where they don’t allow video) we headed to the Archeology museum which was luckily open late (till 7pm).  There is a great sign on their ticket booth that says “This is NOT Topkapi Palace” I can only imagine how many mistakes they must have had to have to put that sign up.

The museum was under construction but even so it goes on and on and on.  Its fun – but its long.  At some point you start to visually skim.  There is a great pavilion called the tiled pavilion filled with Iznik tiles and the Museum of the Ancient Orient is easy to miss but filled with things from the art history textbooks.

After the museum we headed to dinner to call it an early night because tomorrow it is off to Yedikule and the Fortress of the 7 towers!

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