Panorama 1453 History Museum

You are Invited to Witness the Conquest of Istanbul

Here you, as an outside observer, shall witness the conquest of Istanbul exactly 558 years after the event. You shall relive that moment as if you had been present during the conquest by Fatih (the Conqueror) Sultan Mehmet II, You shall see the cannons that were cast by the Hungarian foundry (metal casting) master Urban and almost hear the sound of the howitzers fired at the “impenetrable” walls surrounding the city. You shall hear the shouting of Taqbir (“God is great!”) by Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s thousands of soldiers and the victory marches played by his janissary band. And you may even join them. You will also hear, through your own ears, the hoof steps of galloping horses as well as the sound of clashing swords and the whining of arrows.

This is Topkapi Culture Park. Fourteen years ago, it was the location of a bus terminal. On your left are the Edirnekapi Walls. Straight ahead we see the Topkapi Walls, the site where Ottoman soldiers entered Constantinople. Right here you witness a significant part of history, the fall of Constantinople, where Sultan Mehmet II. was given the title of Fatih (the Conqueror).

Imagine a picture, a painting, covering a three thousand square meter area in a 360 degree spatial setting. Looking at the picture, you get a sense of three dimensions. The three-dimensional effect presents itself in a pronounced manner from that platform at a fourteen meter distance. The pit Sure depicts, in three-dimensions, a six hundred and fifty square meter area covered with the cannons, carts, and powder kegs used in the conquest of Istanbul. Immediately behind the three-dimensional area, we see a two-dimensional painting covering a 2350 square meter area. The work depicts extremely minute details of the scene with 10,000 human figures, where the size of the people is reduced as one approaches the horizon until they are no longer visible.

Today, there are only thirty or so panoramic museums in the world. Panoramic museums generally illustrate significant historical events, especially major battles. Among the more famous ones are the panoramic museums depicting the Battle of Waterloo, the Battle of Crimea (the Ottoman-Russian war), Napoleon’s entry into Moscow, and Ghazi Osman Pasha’s Defense of Pleven (Bulgaria), as well as the Mesdag Panoramic Museum. Most of these museums were built in the 1800s with oil paintings on the actual locations of the events that took place. Some of them have been painted in horizontal and some in vertical panoramic settings.

What makes this 1453 Istanbul Panoramic Museum different from the others is the fad that it uses both horizontal and vertical settings, a perfect panoramic picture that spans all directions. The sky covers the rest of the picture as a three-dimensional dome. The picture has no borders. In a picture with borders, no matter how much of a three-dimensional feel it gives, one can see the finite character of the scene. In the work you see in the 1453 Istanbul Panoramic Museum, there are no lines depicting the borders of the picture. Thus, an observer looking at the picture for ten seconds or more is unable to perceive the dimensions. Here even though in an enclosed area, one gets the feeling of being out in the open area.

This project, started by the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, is the product of eight famous artists. The brainchild of the project was Hasim Vatandas, an accomplished artist and cartoonist who is also acting as the coordinator of the project. The others are Yasar Zeynalov (paintings,), Oksan Legka (paintings), Ahmet Kaya (storyboard), Hasan H. Dincer and Murat Efe (computer demonstrations), and Atilla Tunca (maquette). This project shows that; a team of Turkish artists can accomplish when given the opportunity to perform.

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