Thursday, September 10, 2009

Museum day

With the weather still switching between muggy and torrential downpours at random intervals’ I figured today was as good a time as any to finally get to a few of Istanbul’s indoor sights that I’d so far missed.
Started at the Military Museum which is enormous. Sadly a few of the halls were closed so I missed out on the battle tents which are meant to be worth a look, but I would probably still be there in a week if all the exhibits were open. Started in the Hall of Martyrs and strolled past the enormous chain that was used to close off the Golden Horn during sieges to the Conquest of Istanbul Hall. This was a huge painted backdrop showing the battle on the city walls where I was walking just a few weeks ago’ all the way across the Golden Horn to Galata Tower. In front of the painting (and occasionally connected to it) is a life size model of the battle field complete with soldiers in trenches, huge cannons, fallen soldiers riddled with arrows and one soldier fallen off his horse with his foot still in the stirrup (which was attatched to a painted horse in the mural). With a recording of battle sounds and the Mehter military marching band it was pretty impressive.
The next several halls were filled with increasingly elaborate swords, helmets and early firearms collected from various armies in Europe in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and more of those creepy mannequin displays that always seem to follow me around, the highlight here being the actual car that someone was assassinated in complete with bullet holes.
Upstairs was dedicated to more recent conflicts with displays on the World Wars, the War of Salvation, Korea and various local conflicts. There was a small section dedicated to Gallipoli which was interesting. Back downstairs was a huge collection of cannons, the instruments used by the Mehter (whose performance I decided not to stick around for because, impressive as it is, I already saw it when they turned up at Dolmahbace the same day as me) and a Turkish bath (with more mannequins lying around waiting for massages I assume, odd).
Found my way out of the museum and walked up to the other side of Osmanbey to the tiny Ataturk museum, one time home of the father of modern Turkey and now a small but interesting exhibition dedicated to him. After a lot of mime work with the woman guarding the door I eventually worked out to put on the always fun plastic shoe covers and headed in. No English captions unfortunately but most of the exhibition was photos and clothes so not too hard to work out what you were looking at. One particularly interesting piece was a set of dentures complete with gold teeth, fancy

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