Military Museum Istanbul

For a rousing museum experience, present yourself at this little-visited museum located 1km north of Taksim. Try to visit in the afternoon so that you can enjoy the concert given by the Mehter, which occurs most days between 3pm and 4pm. The large museum is spread over two floors. On the ground floor are displays of weapons and Turkish military uniforms through the ages, as well as glass cases holding battle standards, both Turkish and captured. These include Byzantine, Greek, British, Austro-Hungarian, Italian and Imperial Russian standards. Also on show are an old-fashioned diorama of the Conquest and a tapestry woven by Ottoman sailors (who must have had lots of time on their hands) showing the flags of all of the world’s important maritime nations.

The upper floor has a Çannakale (Gallipoli) diorama and a room devoted to Atatürk, who was, of course, a famous Ottoman general before he became founder and commander-in-chief of the republican army and first president of the Turkish Republic. Perhaps the best reason to visit this museum is to view the short concert by the Mehter. Turkish historians argue that the Mehter was the world’s first true military band. Its purpose was not to make pretty music for dancing, but to precede the conquering Ottoman pa?as (governors) into vanquished towns, impressing upon the defeated populace their new, subordinate status. Children in particular will love watching them march with their steady, measured pace, turning all together to face the left side of the line of march, then the right side. The easiest way to get to the museum is to walk up Cumhuriyet Caddesi from Taksim Sq. This will take around 15 minutes. When this book went to print, there were rumours that the museum would relocate to the stables building in Gülhane Park near Topkap? Palace.

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