İstanbul’s panoramic museum enchants visitors with visual feast

İstanbul’s panoramic museum enchants 
   visitors with visual feast

February 15, 2009, Sunday/ 11:51:00/ BETÜL AKKAYA DEMİRBAŞ
A visual feast awaits enthusiasts at İstanbul’s panorama 1453 history museum, Turkey’s first panoramic museum, which tells the story of the conquest of İstanbul by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. The museum, where almost 10,000 Ottoman and Byzantine soldiers are pictured in detail, allows visitors to experience the excitement of the conquest of İstanbul.Portraying the conquest, which marked the end of the Middle Ages, in a three-dimensional way with authentic materials, the museum enables visitors to feel as if they were traveling back in time.

The inauguration ceremony of the museum was held on Jan. 31 with the participation of a number of high-level state officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, State Minister and chief EU negotiator Egemen Bağış, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, İstanbul Governor Muammer Güler and İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş. The museum stands as the first of its kind in Turkey and the only full panoramic museum in the world built in a closed space.

As soon as you enter the platform, you experience a short period of amazement as if you have come out to a supernatural open-air landscape. Before you lies the clothing of the 15th century, prepared meticulously by a group of designers, historians and many others to recreate the period in detail.

The three-dimensional picture is supported by impressive sound and visual effects. The ceremonial military music from the famous Ottoman Janissary Band and the sounds of gunfire and cannons make one feel as if they are in the middle of the battle. To enjoy the best view of the picture, watchers are advised to observe it at a minimum distance of 14 meters, the distance at which the three-dimensional optical illusion works best.

The picture depicts what İstanbul looked like on May 29, 1453, the date the city was conquered by the Ottomans. The dome on top of the three-dimensional panoramic picture creates the illusion of a real sky, which makes it seemingly endless both vertically and horizontally though it is actually a circle of 38 meters in diameter. If you look carefully, you can see the silhouette of Sultan Mehmet II, also known as the Conqueror, bedecked with clouds. Some 3,000 square meters of pictures are exhibited in the museum. In the museum, there are also imitations of cannons and powder barrels used during the battle to make viewers feel that the picture is a whole within itself.

There is also a small model of the picture at the entrance of the museum, where viewers are provided with the opportunity to examine the details of the picture on a smaller surface. The corridor taking visitors to the museum to the floor where the panoramic picture is situated is bedecked with paintings and tableaus which offer broader information on the conquest of İstanbul.

There are currently 30 partial panoramic museums around the world, but the Panorama 1453 History Museum provides a full panorama in a closed area. Among other panoramic museums are the panorama of Napoleon's War in Waterloo, the panorama of Napoleon's War in Moscow and the panorama of the Turkish-Russian Plevne War.

The Panorama 1453 History Museum is the work of a team of eight artists. Among them are project manager Haşim Vatandaş, Ramazan Erkurt (background), Yaşar Zeykanov and Oksana Legka (figures), Ahmet Kaya (storyboard), Hasan H. Dinçer and Murat Efe (computer application) and Atilla Tunca (models).

Project manager Haşim Vatandaş said in one of his previous interviews that they created the 3-D museum with the aim of capturing what the city looked like on May 29, 1453. Vatandaş noted that the city fell to the Ottomans at Topkapı, where the biggest battle took place, where the biggest cannons were placed and where Mehmet the Conqueror established his headquarters. The Ottomans did not draw any pictures depicting the exact moment of the conquest, so the project was particularly difficult, he emphasized.

The project was completed after three years of work and preparation with a budget of TL 2.1 million. The entrance fee is TL 5. Student are allowed to enter the museum for TL 3 and tourists for 10 euros.

The İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality's Kültür A.Ş. believes the Panorama 1453 History Museum will help boost İstanbul's image as a European Capital of Culture (ECOC). The Panorama 1453 History Museum is the most outstanding project to be noted when talking about İstanbul 2010 ECOC, according to museum General Manager Nevzat Bayhan. İstanbul, Turkey's largest city, will host a number of major events next year as part of the İstanbul 2010 ECOC project.

Zaman columnist Abdullah Aymaz dedicated one of his recent columns to the Panorama 1453 History Museum, in which he noted his great appreciation of the work by the project group. "I had visited in the past the panoramic museum depicting the Waterloo battle in Belgium, but having visited our new museum in İstanbul, I realized that this one is 10 times better than the one in Belgium," he remarked.

Aymaz stressed that the museum is a great work, adding that İstanbul needed such artwork to depict its conquest. "I believe those who feel the atmosphere in the museum will be brought to tears. You should absolutely experience this excitement," he noted.

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