İznik Museum (Nilüfer Hatun Kitchen for the poor)
It has been constructed in 1388 in the name of Nilüfer Hatun, mother of Sultan Murad the 1st. The building that has been constructed as a kitchen for the poor was a philanthropic institution where meal was given for the poor everyday. In the Republic Term, it has been used as a depot by making the necessary modifications and has been opened to service in 1960 as a museum.
The kitchen for the poor, which is a historical building is one of the most beautiful samples of the Ottoman architecture. Inverse T plan in Ottoman architecture is first seen in this building. The building starts with a porch where the columns and pillars are bearers which are covered with domes and vaults. The main section is entered with a door on which there is an inscription. The main section is covered with a dome in the center of which there is an illumination lantern. Side locations each of which is covered with a dome is entered from the main section. The kitchen draws attention with the very rich and colored stone and brick workmanship special to Byzantine.
İznik Ayasofya Museum
Ayasofya is a church constructed in basilica type in the 4th century. The building is called with the 7th Spiritual Council met in İznik on October 11th 787 (726 - 842). The figurative expression of the religious topics was forbidden in the iconoclastic period and symbolism prevailed. This religious meeting convened by Empress Eirene for making painting loved again has been recorded in the history as the 2nd İznik Council. After the earthquake that took place in the 11th century, an important modification has been made in its architecture and the nefs have been limited with pillars. In each of the two sides of the abscissa, there was one side location room which was covered with domes.
After 1331, it has been converted into a mosque by Orhan Gazi. In the term of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (1520 - 1566), a niche has been added by Mimar Sinan and large arch openings has been made in the side nefs.
The building has some fresco and mosaic ruins belonging to the Byzantine Period. The frescos are on the domes and walls of the postophorium rooms and on the grave in the side nef wall. The fresco on the grave includes the pictures of Mary, Jesus and Johannes. The floor mosaic (11th century) is located in the mid nef and is a floor ornament that is made by cutting colored stones in accordance with certain geometric shapes and combining them with a interlocking motif.
The ornaments belonging to the Ottoman Period are the pen-made inscription at the arch beginning that is located in the south, the strip ornamented with plant motifs and the plaster ruin in the inner niche having a small zencerek motif. This old Ayasofya Church (mosque) is open for visit today as a monument - museum.
Sections of the Museum
The works exhibited in the museum consist of the works obtained from İznik and its surroundings and the works found in the scientific excavations. Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman Period works are exhibited in the garden of the museum. These works consist of column caps, sarcophaguses, relief, barrier plates, ambons, stelles, inscriptions, roof gutters, well bracelets and Islamic grave stones.
In the closed exhibitions, archeological, ethnographic coins and İznik encaustic tiles are exhibited. The archeological works exhibited in the main section belong to the period from the pre - historic to the end of the Byzantine period. Also the coin section in the same section include samples from the Archaic Period (7th century BC) to the end of the Ottoman Period (1923) and the ethnographic section includes samples reflecting the traditions, cultural and social structure of the region in the near past. These are exhibited in the southern and northern locations of the Museum.
İznik Ceramic and Encaustic Tile Sections
Unique encaustic tile findings belonging to 15th - 17th century produced in İznik, which have found a large use area in the term during which they were made are exhibited in the southern part of the museum. İznik ceramics that were produced in İznik in the 11th - 14th centuries are exhibited in the northern part of the museum.
There are more than 2000 works, 300 coins, 500 İznik encaustic tiles and ceramics and 150 ethnographical works in the museum sections. 98% of the works included in the exhibition are findings obtained from scientific excavations.
Scientific Excavations Carried Out in the Region
1- Ilıpınar Ruin Place Excavation: In Ilıpınar Höyük, which is in the borders of Orhangazi district, the excavations have been started in 1987 under the supervision of Dr. Jacob Roodenberg, chairman of Holland History and Archeology Institute. As the result of the participation of Turkish - Hollander scientists and students, the culture layer belonging to VIth thousand BC has been reached. Very important findings belonging to pre - historic periods have been obtained in the studies. Among them, there are various house ruins, cooked soil, bone, stone, bronze tools and various kitchen goods, agricultural tools, cosmetic cans and necklaces provide comprehensive information relating to the life of the period during which they were made.
The graves found in the ruin place show us the traditions relating to burying the dead. C14 analysis carried out on the findings of the ruin place prove that the first residence place where the agriculture has begun in the region was Ilıpınar Ruin Place.
2- Excavation of İznik Encaustic Tile Furnaces: in İznik District center, excavations have been started by Prof. Dr. Oktay Aslanapa, the division head of Artistic History and Archeology of İstanbul University, in 1967. Since 1994, the studies are being continued under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Ara Altun, who is a lecturer in the same division, with the participation of many scientists and students. The works found in this region, which was the production center for İznik ceramics and encaustic tiles between the 11th - 17th centuries, charm the visitors. 99% of such works exhibited in the museum are found in scientific excavations.
3- Menteşe Ruin Place Excavation: In the studies carried out since 1995 under the supervision of İznik Museum Directorate with the participation of Holland History and Archeology Institute experts, important architectural findings and objects belonging to the Pre - Historic term have been obtained. These are being exhibited in İznik Museum. The excavation, which has been interrupted in 1998 will be continued in 1999.
4- İznik Theatre Excavation: The studies are being continued since 1980 by the team consisting of a group of scientists and students under the supervision of Dr. Bedri Yalman. The Roman theatre belonging to the 2nd century AD is one of the unique samples constructed on a flat land. Some of the small findings obtained in the excavations of the theatre, which has been excavated in 2/3 ratio, are being exhibited in the museum.