21 Aralık 2013 Cumartesi

Naval Museum

It’s well known that Turks came from Central Asia on the backs of their horsesÉ Sailing was not one of their fortesÉ but they understood its importance as early as the 14th century when they sent a fleet to conquer İmrali Island in 1308.

Few pay attention to the grey stone building on the right, the shore side, as you approach the Beşiktaş interchange and Barbaros Boulevard. There’s a sailor walking along the portico. Next to it is a mausoleum and a statue of Barbaros, one of Turkey’s greatest admirals. For this is the Istanbul Maritime Museum, not one of the most frequently visited museums but certainly one that is very interesting.

It’s well known that Turks came from Central Asia on the backs of their horses and found themselves confronted by hostile waters. Sailing was not one of their fortes and they usually left it to others to do the seamanship. But they understood its importance as early as the 14th century when they sent a fleet to conquer İmrali Island [1308]. The 15th century saw the Ottoman Turks expanding their empire into the Black Sea, Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean, even into the Red Sea. And the first time that they used cannon on board their ships. 

The first defeat of an Ottoman fleet was at Lepanto in 1571 but it didn’t keep the Ottomans back because they developed a fleet that was just as large and continued with its conquests of Mediterranean islands and along the North African coast.

Over the years, the Turkish fleet has developed on the basis of the Ottoman fleets but followed western designs, especially after the use of iron and coal / oil became general. Today the fleet has submarines, destroyers, frigates, etc. just as the fleets of most other countries have.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t other boats of different sorts, especially in Istanbul. Until the 1970s, no bridge connected the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. One could only go by boat. The most splendid of the boats were the caiques (kayık) that belonged to the sultans. And there is no better place to get an idea of what these were like than the Maritime Museum in Beşiktaş.

But first one should see the 16th century kadırga or oared ship that has been fully restored. It is a 40-meter-long wooden ship with 24 double oars, each one of which would have been pulled by three men. The prow is covered with designs and raised motifs as the sun, moon and flowers. The impression is so over whelming, one has to accept that this was made for someone of great consequence, in other words, a sultan at the very least. At the moment it seems that research is still ongoing but it is known that the kadırga was used in the middle of the 17th century.

Establishing the Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum was first established in 1897 in a building that belonged to the Mines Detachment Command in the Imperial Shipyard at Kaşımpaşa on the Golden Horn. It was the first naval museum established in Turkey but was rather like a depot that was opened to the public. [The Military Museum which is devoted to the land army was established much earlier in 1726.] Finally in 1914, the museum began to take on the basis for today’s Maritime Museum. 

During World War II, the collection was taken to Anatolia for safekeeping but when the decision to return it w as taken in 1946, the most appropriate place was thought to be the Dolmabahçe Palace complex. It took two years to get the museum open for visitors. But the museum then had to be moved because of the need to widen the streets along the shore in Beşiktaş. That’s where it is located today next to the mausoleum and monument to Ottoman Admiral Barbaros Hızır Hayrettin Paşa. 

Barbaros Paşa is one of the Ottoman Empire’s great heroes. Born in 1466, he became one of the most successful captains and pirates of the 16th century. Raiding around the Mediterranean and especially in the west, he proved to be particularly successfully against Spain and Italy and in 1532, he defeated the Spanish fleet under Andrea Doria. At that point Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent decided to appoint him as the head of the Ottoman navy. Barbaros went on from one success to another. He retired in 1545 and died the following year.

The Maritime Museum today has a collection of nearly 20,000 pieces related to the Ottoman and Turkish navies. The museum has two floors of exhibition space and an annex in the rear that houses the boat collection. These are divided into sections devoted to Weapons and Shipyards, the Crimean War, the Mahmudiye Kalyonu, the Atatürk salon, those who died in ship accidents, the historical kayaks and the garden in which cannon, grave markers and water and torpedoes are to be found. There are as well numerous paintings related to Ottoman and Turkish ships hung on the walls. 

The garden is a pleasant place to rest and watch the Bosphorus with its ever-changing parade of ships and ferries. Although there is quite a few items on display outside, its green grass makes it a very restful place. One can hope that eventually some of the ancient boats found during the excavations will have a resting place here with the truly unique kayaks left from the Ottoman period.

The Ottomans were great savers although one might not think so. For example, whenever a sultan died all of his clothing would be bundled up and tagged for identification before storage. That’s why so many can be put on display at Topkapı Palace Museum. Its no surprise that there are ships still around.

The earliest kayak mentioned above is stunning but there are many other kadırga, boats that belonged to navy and boats that served such purposes as transporting the women of the harem to various palaces on the Bosphorus or Golden Horn. The sultanate boats had prows and sterns covered with decorations, sumptuous cushions where people would sit and a tasseled, beautifully embroidered covering to shield them from the sun. [A word of advice. If you’d like to be rowed around the Bosphorus or Golden Horn in a boat that resembles the ones at the Museum, there’s a company in Istanbul that can provide you with one. Just Google VIP Tourism.] 

Lighting kept low to preserve material on display
Inside the main building are several understated displays, understated in the sense that the lighting is quite low in order to preserve the materials on display. The "Sancak" display is one of the most interesting as it contains banners from the earliest of Ottoman times and even a Byzantine banner captured during the conquest of Constantinople. These were flags such as we have today but usually simpler in symbolic meaning Ğ white and green with star and crescent, red with green or black, etc. Ğ a whole range of banners, a whole history.

The map collection is extensive and covers the earliest maps and charts through to modern ones, not only done by Turks but by foreigners as well. Originally the collection was in the Maritime Museum but it was later moved to a special section in Ankara at Military Headquarters. The most important and valuable maps are those prepared by Piri Reis and the 1461 Mediterranean Map by Mursiyeli Tabip Ibrahim Efendi. 

The most recent addition to the Maritime Museum is the "Handkerchief Exhibition" that opened this past week. There was a small but select group of people who attended the occasion that was organized by Ebru Sanver, the wife of Honorary Chile Consul Haluk Sanver and hosted by the Naval Commander in charge of the Maritime Museum. 

This is something one would normally not expect in the West Ğ commemorative handkerchiefs. The earliest show a number of sultans and then Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The material seems to be the finest linen and the pictures stamped on them is quite fine. Interesting. Not someone would expect to find in a Turkish museum but then this is really an extraordinary museum that is unfortunately overlooked.

Opening days and Close 

The museum is open everyday from 09.00 to 17.00 excepts Mondays, the first day of year, the first days of religion holidays. 

 In the summer period, the museum avaliable weekdays from 09.00 to 17.00 and the weekends from 10.00 to 18.00.

Naval museum build on area of 20.000 square meters on pier square in Beşiktaş one of the most central points in İstanbul can be reached easily by sea or land.

Adress:    Sinan Paşa Mah.Beşiktaş Cad. 6/1 Beşiktaş / İSTANBUL
 Phone:     0 212 327 43 45/46

by hurriyet.com.tr

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