The Carpet Museum, Istanbul, Turkey


We photographed the beautiful carpets in the Istanbul Carpet Museum

Our intention on this trek was to photograph the stunning display of tulips in Gulhane Park, but unfortunately it was hosing down with rain, so we decided to head inside to the newly opened Carpet Museum instead. Despite one Tripadvisor reviewer finding this museum boring, we found it fascinating.

This 14-15th century carpet is from Eastern Anatolia, from the Ulu Mosque

This is one of the richest carpet collections in the world. It includes many carpets that were donated to mosques and mescids (prayer rooms). According to Islamic tradition, the donors were assured a privileged place in the afterlife, especially if their carpet was renowned for its aesthetic and artistic qualities.

This 14th century carpet is also from Eastern Anatolia, from the Ulu Mosque

One excellent addition to the museum is the description and meanings of the various symbols found woven into the carpets. Once we saw this, we shot off in all directions to see if we could identify the symbols on the carpets themselves.

Here is a sample of some of those symbols
(Click on the image to see a larger size) 

See if you can identify any of them on the images displayed here. Then you will know the purpose of the original weaver in making this work of art. (You might need a magnifying glass to read my sample!)

Design from a 15th century carpet from Central Anatolia, from the Teberrukat Warehouse

Design from a 14th-15th century carpet from Eastern Anatolia,  Ulu Mosque

Design from a 16th century carpet from Uşak, Ulu Mosque

Design from a 16th century carpet from Western Anatolia, Ulu Mosque

The museum door is to the left of the main entrance to Topkapi Palace, and is located in the İmaret (Soup Kitchen), added to Ayasofya in 1742-43 during the reign of Sultan Mahmud I. There are three separate rooms housing the collection, and the final one is the old bakery (fodlahane) for making bread to give to the poor. 

...and the old ovens have been preserved in the third exhibition room

by Elizabeth Coughlan


  1. This is very interesting Elizabeth, especially as you say, once you have the description and meanings of the various symbols. It's a pity you didn't load a bigger version of that chart. It's a bit hard for some of us oldies to read. Next time we're in Istanbul, we'll have to check it out.

    1. Point taken, Helen. I have now enlarged the image, so that when you click on it, you can read it. (I hope!) Hope to see you in Istanbul sometime soon!

  2. Thanks Elizabeth for your prompt attention. Satisfied customer xx

  3. What a unique place! it is really interesting to see al the designs and to learn about what they stand for.

    1. Yes, Suki, and I have only given a tiny sample of the designs and their meaning. The whole place is fascinating.

  4. I tried to photograph the whole collection in the museum.. if you like to see please click on the link:

    1. Wow, Seref, you certainly did get them all. What a great collection of images! I have sent you a friend request on Facebook, if that is OK. I'd like to see all your other images.


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