Friday, August 1, 2014

Tales from Turkey Part 1 ' Come inside'

The Blue Mosque.. not military but wonderfully impressive
I have a very privileged working life. I get to travel all over the world and whilst doing that occasionally manage a day off here and there if the location holds some interest for me in a military context.
That's what I CALL a gun! Ottoman cannon of the 15th century
I couple of years back I made it to Istanbul for a job and was fortunate enough to be billeted less than 400 metres from the Turkish Military Museum.
I'll share many shots of this enormous panorama of the fall of Constantinople
Having walked past the location a couple of times without even noticing it I was delighted when my schedule offered a morning free and I checked the map to find I was on the doorstep. A major feature of the museum is a series of enormous panoramas incorporating mannequins and equipment against beautifully painted backdrops some of which were more than 25 metres long. In the shot above the mannequins and cannons are life sized.
Part of an impressive Dardanelles diorama
My initial thought was, hmmm... I wonder if this will be a bit shabby or whether it is worthwhile. I am embarrassed to admit that view was condescendingly Western European and completely inaccurate. The Turks have an enormously rich military heritage and I was stunned by the quality of the exhibits.
Part of a panorama of Turkic tribes attacking the Great Wall of China
Perhaps some of the political commentary was a little partisan however whose is not? I thought it may be a perfect subject to broaden both the appeal of the blog and  to share some truly fantastic militaria with members here.
Victory over Christendom at Hattin 1187: detail of yet another massive panorama
So, Part 1 is a 'come inside' teaser and the subsequent posts will expand more specifically on various wonders which lie within this outstanding museum.
The very walls of Byzantium. Doesn't get much better than this
We also have the opportunity to share plenty of detail of the city walls of Byzantium plus some shots of the Russian Navy at anchor off Istanbul bearing in mind the Black Sea Fleet has only one way in and out and that is straight through the middle of Europe'a largest metropolis and one of the world's megacities.
Come back and enjoy a tour through this outstanding military museum in perhaps 8 or 9 parts depending on whether I run out of steam. I certainly won;t run out of pictures of which I have dozens.


  1. Loved the pictures! Amazing stuff! To think that when Saby went to Turkey she spent all her time examining fungus on pine trees (her speciality in actual fact). I think I may well have found a day or three to spend in the Turkish Military Museum, such an important part of Late Medieval/Renaissance history. Even to this day. Fantastic post and I'm looking forward to the next one!

    i expect you'll be visiting Hagia Sophia? How could one not?


  2. Having always been fascinated by Turkish history, I'm delighted you are doing this series. Those pics are great and the diorama stuff is cool.
    Although, the Hattin one, not sure about the accuracy. Two of the prisoners are wearing pantaloons more like Turks would wear than western Crusaders and the bound standing prisoner has some goofy looking Roman helmet totally unlike any Outremer Crusader one. Unless they're supposed to be Byzantines?
    Can't wait for the rest of the series, thanks Barry!

    1. For some reason I'd assumed that it was Manzikert(?).

      Just goes to show..... don't make assumptions!


  3. Yup Mike, I noticed those things. Could be Byzantines, prisoners could be Turk clients of Crusaders or allies. I found generally that the exhibits in the museum appeared to be very accurate and a lot of trouble had been taken to accurately identify things. As very little Turkish material finds its way into the English speaking world my general approach now is to not immediately judge based on Anglo sources being right except in clearly obvious situations. Let's see what everyone makes of the rest of it. Glad people are enjoying.


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