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Naval Museum (Deniz Müzesi)

Naval Museum (Deniz Müzesi) Review

Founded in 1897 and located here since 1961, Istanbul's Naval Museum reopened in late 2013 with a huge, state-of-the-art new wing that impressively showcases its large collection of Ottoman-era boats and maritime paraphernalia. The multistory, hangar-like structure was built to house more than a dozen kayıks (caiques)—long, slim wooden boats, rowed by oarsmen, that served as the primary mode of royal transportation in Istanbul for several hundred years. These graceful boats are decorated with gorgeous painted patterns and intricate carvings and figureheads covered with gold leaf; most also have an equally ornate curtained wooden pavilion that was built for the sultan, his wife, or his mother. The only extant Ottoman galley—a 40-meter ship dating to the 16th century that was used for warfare and rowed by 144 oarsmen—as well as an array of smaller boats and ship models are also on display. The underground level houses several exhibits of paintings, naval coats of arms, and other objects that give a good sense of the Ottoman Empire's onetime supremacy at sea. In the square just beside the museum are the tomb (usually locked) and a statue of Hayreddin Pasha, or "Barbarossa," the famous admiral of the empire's fleet in the Ottoman glory days of the early 16th century.

Updated: 11-19-2013

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