Museum of Great Palace Mosaics

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - man with green beard

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics

The Great Palace in Constantinople was home to Byzantine emperors beginning with the reign of Constantine the Great in the 4th century. Not just one building, the Great Palace grew to include dozens of edifices, both magnificent and large, to the more mundane. However, the structures within its walls aged. Around 1100 the Emperor Alexios I Comnenus built his new palace in the Blachernae area of the city. Nonetheless, the Great Palace remained the titular imperial home until the depredations of the Fourth Crusade finally ruined it forever.

Lively Mosaics Left Behind

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - geese

Little remains of the Great Palace’s legendary buildings aside from part of a wall from the Bukoleon palace. However, the Museum of the Great Palace Mosaics houses some of the remaining mosaics unearthed by archeologists from where it once stood.

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - camel

Secular Themes

Unlike the mosaics found in the museum/former churches elsewhere in Istanbul, these display everyday life as well as a few mythological scenes. The stately and regal church mosaics glittering with gold appear almost static when compared to the child leading two geese, the cheetahs eating their prey or hunters attacking a tiger.

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - hunters attacking a tiger

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - mythological horned griffon

The reds in the mosaic below still vividly depict the blood of the gazelle being consumed.

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - cheetahs eating prey

An old man sits thoughtfully on a rock.

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - old man on a rock

An elephant demonstrating how to take care of an attacking lion.

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - elephant and lion

Lastly, there is this border decoration, faded but still holding onto its original grace and elegance.

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - decorative border

Remembering the Byzantines

Who saw these mosaics? The great Constantine? Did Justinian and his empress Theodora pace on them as the Nika riots roared outside the Palace’s gates? Did Irene the Athenian watch her son toddle on them, the son whose eyes she would one day put out? We can only imagine, and be grateful to the archeologists who have unearthed these remnants of what was once the Great Palace of Constantinople.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Eileen Stephenson

Eileen Stephenson

Leave a Comment

Don’t miss Fabulous Byzantine Updates

I make two promises to those who agree to be added to my email list.

1. You will not receive more than one email from me each month.

2. It may be contentious, but I may discuss Byzantine politics from time to time. Amateurish modern politics will never be discussed.

copyright 2018 Eileen Stephenson | designed by Avalon Graphics.