State Hall of the Austrian National Library

State Hall in the heart of the Austrian National Library is the most impressive place I have ever been in my life. We could have finished visiting the place in 20 minutes but it was so amazing; we stayed there for about an hour and a half. That’s what libraries do to me.

State Hall, also known as Prunksaal has its entrance right next door to Hofburg, the Imperial Palace. Even though your Hofburg combination ticket will not cover The State Hall and you will have to pay something like EUR 15, it is well worth it. Once you’re in, you can stay as long as you like and are allowed to take photos, too. Without using flash, of course.

State Hall Austrian National Library

Construction of this Baroque style library was ordered by Emperor Charles VI—hence the large statue in the middle of The Ceremonial Room—as a private wing of the Hofburg Imperial Residence. The State Hall was built from 1723 till 1726 according to the plans of the famous court architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, and carried out by his son Joseph Emanuel.

State Hall

‘A library is a hospital for the mind.’
—Anonymous

These books were singled out. You just wonder why. Have they been naughty?

The Ceiling of State Hall, Austrian National Library

State Hall Austrian National Library

The dome of State Hall is adorned with beautiful, celestial frescoes as seen in the photos below and above. It is the work of court painter: Daniel Gran. The frescoes were completed in 1730.

The Globes of State Hall
Among the exhibits are four exquisite Venetian baroque globes: two for the earth (terrestrial) and another two for the sky (celestial), each with a diameter of more than one meter. These globes are the work of Vincenzo Coronelli and located in the central oval of the State Hall.

Vincenzo Coronelli (1650 – 1718) completed and donated these globes to Emperor Leopold I in 1693. He initially had them placed in his summer residence. Emperor’s summer residence is today’s private high school and diplomatic academy Theresianum. However, in the mid-18th century, all four globes were moved to the central oval of the State Hall.

State Hall Austrian National Library

Himmelglobus (above)
Due to the special representation of the heavens chosen by Coronelli for this celestial globe, the right and left sides of the constellations are not reversed, appearing against their unusual bluish green background in the same way we see them on the firmament at night.

State Hall Austrian National Library

Erdglobus (above)
Notable in this topographically very precise terrestrial globe with its numerous records on voyages of discovery are the very accurate and artistic representations of human beings, animals, plants and even ships.

The Statues of State Hall of Austrian National Library

State Hall Austrian National Library

The statue of Emperor Charles VI (above) is located in the middle of the State Hall is created by the sculptors Peter Strudel and Paul Strudel. Sweet!

Does that bottom shelf look familiar to you?

For more photos and videos please go to my photo blog.

Visiting Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence in Istanbul

the museum of innocence

Visiting Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence in Istanbul
During Gezi Park protests, a dear friend of mine sent me a photo of a police officer firing his gun at protesters, aiming right underneath the sign of Orhan Pamuk’s real life Museum of Innocence. It was a heartbreaking scene; my country, my police, my people and one of my favourite author’s museum sign.

When you see something like that, you immediately want to go back and do whatever you missed out during your last trip. However, Turkey is a bit like India —only in a smaller scale—that every region has its own cuisine, natural beauty, unique history and dialect. So, you can never see everything; there’s always something else, some place else to see and experience. I mean, I’m from Turkey but there is a lot even I haven’t seen yet. Well, The Museum of Innocence was one of those places.

Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk (above) at the Museum of Innocence. Copyright

Luckily, the situation calmed down back in Turkey and in the end, the very same dear friend of mine and her husband who took us there on a fine May afternoon in 2015. The plan for that night was to go to a wine house around Galata Tower (see photo below) to have dinner and catch up with friends. To be able to visit the museum on the very same day, we left early. So Artun drove us down to Kadıköy. After parking the car at a nearby parking building, we walked up to the pier to catch a ferry. The ferries are the normal form of transportation in Istanbul and that is the best way to travel from Asian side of Istanbul to European side —I believe Istanbul is the only city in the world that stretches across two continents. I guess we walked through a tunnel after that, caught a tiny carriage of a train which travels underground but still doesn’t qualify as tube or metro. Once we came out at the other side, we found ourselves on famous İstiklal Caddesi (İstiklal Avenue) in Beyoğlu.

Galata Tower

Galata Tower, Istanbul

Well, The Museum of Innocence may seem like just off İstiklal Caddesi, however, it takes some searching, climbing uphill and then go downhill and consulting local taxi drivers –twice actually but Alpay doesn’t want to talk about it—to find this incredibly out of sight place. But when maroon-painted, narrow townhouse (photo below) pokes its head out and you have your experience only then you realize that it is well worth it.

the museum of innocence

The Museum of Innocence Copyright

Although, the novel came out in 2008, I read in 2011—and of course, I read it in Turkish. I now own a Turkish copy of the novel which I bought from Turkey during one of my visits, an autographed American fist edition, and the museum catalogue called The Innocence of Objects, too. In the last chapter of the novel, this is what it says:

And let those who have read the book enjoy free admission to the museum when they visit for the first time. This is best accomplished by placing a ticket in every copy. The Museum of Innocence will have a special stamp, and when visitors present their copy of the book, the guard at the door will stamp this ticket before ushering them in.

So, I brought my autographed American first edition all the way from Sydney to Istanbul to be stamped at the museum which can be seen in the photo below along with Füsun’s earrings and my bookmark.

visiting Orhan Pamuk Museum Innocence

The Museum of Innocence opened its doors in 2012 and its exhibition is divided and presented in display cabinets—some of them are box-sized cabinets, by the way— which contain objects collected by Orhan Pamuk and Kemal Basmaci. Each cabinet —there are 83 chapters in the novel so there are 83 display cabinets at the museum—corresponds to a chapter in the novel with the same number and title. The way it is designed makes you feel like you’re rereading the novel. This time through real life objects.

masumiyet muzesi Istanbul

Spiral of Time Copyright

As you step inside the museum, you are greeted with a huge spiral pattern (see photo above) on the floor: Spiral of Time. Orhan Pamuk’s catalog of the Museum of Innocence, The Innocence of Objects explains the Spiral of Time as the time spiral that the novel develops; symbolizing Aristotelian ideas about time as a line that connects indivisible moments. Objects, like atoms, are carried through to the clocks exhibited in the central stairwell that comprise Box 54, “Time.” Each object in the museum, whether a salt-shaker or a cigarette butt, helps us remember the moments, converting time into space. The little booklet you explains it a bit further as: While the spiral represents time and the story itself, the golden dots represents moments in time, or the individual objects within the story. The ground floor of the museum also houses the biggest piece under its roof: Box no: 68 with 4213 cigarette buts (see photo below).

museum of innocence

Photo credit: Nihan Vural (Istanbul Travelogue)

On the first and the second floor, the story continues with the objects and wall movie installations. Limon’s cage can also be seen on the first floor. If you need to refresh your memory, there are copies of the novel in different languages and a few places to sit while you’re reading, too.

visiting Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence

Copyright

On the top floor, the story still continues through box numbers 80-83 this is the room where Kemal Basmacı lived from 2000 to 2007 while the construction of the museum carried out. On one wall, Orhan Pamuk’s preliminary sketches for the boxes and his manuscript of The Museum of Innocence are on display.

the museum of innocence

Kemal Basmacı’s room (above).

visiting Orhan Pamuk Museum InnocenceIn the basement, you can find museum shop and toilets. I love museum shops so I actually spend quite a bit of time in every museum I visit and pick up some really cool stuff. From this particular museum shop I bought a fridge magnet, a bookmark and Füsun’s earrings (see photo). Füsun’s earrings are designed and produced by Kıymet Daştan according to the description given by Orhan Pamuk himself. I haven’t worn mine yet but I’m looking forward to it. Next time, I’m thinking of getting some of the posters as well—not that I have enough wall space but I’ll work something out.

visiting Orhan Pamuk Museum Innocence

A snippet of a narrow road (above) on the way to the museum. I personally enjoyed reading some of the graffiti on the walls as a reminder of Gezi Park protests. If you decide to visit The Museum of Innocence, you might walk down this road yourself.

The Museum of Innocence can be found in this address below:

Çukurcuma Caddesi
Dalgıç Çıkmazı, 2
Beyoğlu, 34425
Turkey
Website