Istanbul (2012) #4: Turkish Art and the Spice Bazaar

Down the side of Sultanahmet mosque is a square with Egyptian obelisks brought to then Constantinople by the Romans and the Serpent Column of Greece which once stood as a Pan-Hellenic monument to the Greco-Persian war made from melted weapons of Persian soldiers and dedicated at Delphi.  

On the right from there is the less visited Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art which turned out to be a hidden gem. Built in one of the hundreds of lesser palace of the city, the museum boasted an excellent and well displayed collection of masonry carving, doors, ceramic, rugs and calligraphy.  


One of the exhibits were a pair of double doors from a Mosque with intricate dragon door-handles, or rather, one of them. The other door handle had been stolen in the 1960s much to the alarm and dismay of my archaeologically inclined mother. I’ve been in a lot of debates about archaeological ethics, especially given my study of the ancient Near East but to remove antiquities from a country not only capable but likely to house them correctly is theft and it’s amazing how recently this went on until.

On the first floor is an impressive terrace garden which has a cafe which charges for lessons in making traditional Turkish coffee right down to roasting your own beans. 

There is a row of tables that over look Sultanahmet that gives you a view above the hoards below. 

Later we got the tram to the Spice Bazaar, a large scale indoor market though nothing like the size of the Grand Bazaar. But like the Grand Bazaar it was somewhat underwhelming. 

Our first glimpse was disappointing because the entrance had been taken over by tourist tack without any spices at all.

Most of the stalls that did do what it said on the tin just sold the same eight spices and they even looked as though they had come from the same suppliers. 

Still the smell was pretty good and it was one of those lively bustling places that let you know you’re travelling.


Then before I knew it; it was time to head home. It was one of the best trips I had been on in a long time and I was sad to have to leave Turkey without going outside Istanbul (next time….)

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