Dolmabahce Palace was grandeur residence of the sultans, a must visit place in Istanbul. Topkapi Palace was the office building of the sultans, also a must visit place to experience the glory of Ottoman Empire. To complete the experience in Turkiye, it’s highly recommended to also visit this Military Museum to really know the history of the country since it was under Seljuk Empire until the end of World War I.
Although located a bit far from major tourism spots, the museum could be reached easily by public transport from Eminonu or Taksim (Bus 54HT or 69A or 54E or 69CY or 70FE, get off at “Harbiye”).
The entrance tickets were cheapest in Istanbul. There were English-speaking military guards (yaolo ganteng-ganteng amat…kelemahan gw emang “pria berseragam”) who also could become visitor guide with their extensive knowledge about the history of Turkiye also explain anything displayed in the museum. They would answer any question without any additional charge (had to pay extra to get tour guide at other museums in Istanbul other than Dolmabahce Palace).
MEHTER BAND PERFORMANCE
I planned our visit to be in the museum before 3:00 PM not to miss daily Mehter Band show. It started with 15 minutes of introduction then 30 minutes of patriotic musical performance. Visitors were allowed to make pose with the soldiers after the show.
Begun with slide shows.
Mehter Band during performance.
Let’s make a pose! Ummm…I think that was fake mustache under your nose, Sir.
The Ottoman military bands are thought to be the oldest variety of military marching band in the world. Though they are often known by the Persian-derived word “mahtar” (“mehter” in Ottoman Turkish) in the West, that word, properly speaking, refers only to a single musician in the band. In Ottoman, the band was generally known as mehterân (from the Persian plural mahtarān), though those bands used in the retinue of a vizier or prince were generally known as mehterhane (meaning roughly, “a gathering of mehters”, from Persian “house of the mahtar”). In modern Turkish, the band as a whole is often termed mehter bölüğü (“mehter company [troop]”), mehter takımı (“mehter platoon”). In the West, the band’s music is also often called Janissary music because the janissaries formed the core of the bands.
THE GLORY OF OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Alif and I were there until closing time, walked around the huge museum. The displays were amazing, I really admired the war equipments and tactics during the era of Seljuk and Ottoman sultans.
Awesome cavalry and infantry!
Display of bows and arrows.
Display of handguns.
Those swords on the left was crescent-shaped (used by Muslim troops) and the right one was cross-shaped (used by The Crusades troops).
Display of military class room. Hey, that’s my boy among cadets. :)
In one of the chambers that display figures of all of Ottoman sultans.
Yes, they were Mongol descendants (see that human-size statue on the left) but embraced Islam since centuries before established Ottoman Empire.
THE CONQUEST OF CONSTANTINOPLE
The conquest of Istanbul, previously known as Constantinople, was extensively displayed. Before conquered by Ottoman Empire on May 29, 1453 then Muslim caliphate had tried to capture it twice:
– In 7th century (674 – 678 AD) under leadership of Khalid ibn Zayd ibn Kulayb (also known as Abu Ayyub al-Ansari), one of the early companions and standard-bearer of Rasulullah Muhammad SAW. The siege failed, Abu Ayub fell before the city walls during the siege and was buried at Eyüp Sultan Mosque complex. Later it became a tradition that Ottoman sultans were girt with the Sword of Osman at the Eyüp mosque upon their accession. Today it remains one of the holiest Muslim shrines in Istanbul.
– In 8th century (717 – 718 AD) there was another siege which also a failure which weakened Umayyad Caliphate. As historian Bernard Lewis commented, “Its failure brought a grave moment for Umayyad power. The financial strain of equipping and maintaining the expedition caused an aggravation of the fiscal and financial oppression which had already aroused such dangerous opposition. The destruction of the fleet and army of Syria at the sea walls of Constantinople deprived the regime of the chief material basis of its power”.
The conquest was very important for Muslim because The Prophet, Rasulullah Muhammad SAW, mentioned in one of hadith: “Lataftahanna al-Qustantiniyya wa lani`ma al-amiru amiruha wa lani`ma al-jayshu dhalika al-jaysh.” which means “Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will her leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!”
The city eventually conquered by Muslim when Ottoman Empire, under the command of 21-years-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (http://goo.gl/PEdEs0), attacked the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos from April 6 until May 29, 1453. Constantine XI died in the battle at the fall of Constantinople, then became a legendary figure in Greek folklore as the “Marble Emperor” (it’s said that he would awaken and recover the Empire and Constantinople from the Ottomans).
Initially, the Ottoman fleet could not enter the Golden Horn due to the defensive chain the Byzantines had laid across the entrance. Therefore, Sultan Mehmed II tried to circumvent the chain. He ordered the construction of a road of greased logs across Galata on the north side of the Golden Horn. Over one night, 72 ships were carried over land and put into the Golden Horn, threatening the city from the north (http://goo.gl/ltVkS2).
The sultan with his soldier, spiritual adviser, personal assistant.
Display of route taken by Sultan Mehmed II’s troops when taking 72 ships overland within one night.
The route was circling (on the left side of display or east side or Bosphorus Strait), popular walking tour route for Muslim tourist who would like to go on tracking on foot (as shown paved with wood for a little over one-mile in above 3D display).
THE ISLAMIC CALIPHATE
When finally conqured Al Quds (Palestine in modern time), then Sultan Selim became caliph, bearing the title “Khalifeh ül-Rasul Rab al-A’alamin” (Successor of the Prophet of the Lord of the Universe), in year 1517 after Al-Mutawakkil III (the last of the Abbasiyah Caliphs in Cairo), formally surrendered the caliphate titles and regalia (the sword, mantle and other relics of Rasulullah Muhammad SAW) to him at Istanbul. Sultan Selim also received the title “Servant of the Two Holy Shrines” (Arabic = Khadim al-Haramayn ash-Sharifayn, Turkish = Khâdim ül-Harameyn ash-Sharifeyn) from Sharif of Mecca when he conquered al-Hejaz and with it the Muslim Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina in the same year.
Sultan Selim’s full title was: “Sovereign of the House of Osman, King of the Two Lands (Europe and Asia Continents), Khagan of the Two Seas (Mediterranean and Indian Seas), Conqueror of the Two Armies (European and Safavid armies), Servant of the Two Holy Shrines (Mecca and Medina), Emperor of the Three Cities of Istanbul, Edirne and Bursa.”
The next sultans after him inherited the above title until the caliphate was abolished by Ataturk on March 3, 1924 (the last caliph was Sultan Abdulmecid).
At the peak of its glory in 17th century, Ottoman Caliphate covered around 5,200,000 km² (2,007,731 square miles) which now become modern countries (or part) of Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Austria, Czech, Slovakia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco, Somalia, Ethiopia, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Malta, Egypt, Eritrea, Djibouti, Chad (until secret agreement of “Sykes-Picot” in year 1916 between British and France divided it into smaller countries)
Ottoman Caliphate at peak of glory.
THE ORIGIN OF TURKS
Some display suggested that the origin of Turks who later established Ottoman Empire might be people from Central Asia (http://goo.gl/XKehPc), descendants of Attila The Hunt who ruled the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century considering the similarity of the alphabets between old Turkish and Uyghur (a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia which nowadays live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China).
Comparison between Turkish alphabets (before used modified Arabic alphabets) and Uygur alphabets which used by people who lived in Muslim-majority region of current People Republic of China.
We left the museum at 5:00 PM (it was dark already on that winter evening) with lots of newly gained knowledge about the glory of the last caliphate that ever had Makkah-Madinah-Al Quds (three holiest city for Muslim) also Contantinople (the capital of Christian Eastern Orthodoxy known as the Byzantine Empire) under their control.
Our last pose before left.