Mosaic, a wonder of the world. There are many spectacular places to visit during a trip to Turkey. Its ancient civilization guarantees that around almost every corner there is something marvellous to take in.
Ruins of ancient temples and other vestiges of a world and culture that existed there hundreds and thousands of years ago.
But there is one compelling and unique attraction a visitor can see without ever leaving their hotel, providing that is, that their room is booked at the Antakya Museum Hotel.
This wonder of the ancient world suffered damaged during a sequence of major earthquakes that shook the country in 526 and 528 A.D.
The mosaic looks like a badly laid carpet. This is the after effect that the earthquakes had on the land and left it widely undulating and left the floor rippled.
In 2010, construction began on the hotel’s foundation. While finding items that belonged to previous empires when digging into the earth in Turkey is not uncommon – pottery, spoons, leather goods and so on – workers came upon something truly unique. A small area of a mosaic was uncovered.
There is nothing particularly extraordinary in that as Turkey is full of Roman treasure like this. However, as the archaeologist started to uncovered the floor the mosaic never seemed to end. The mosaic they uncovered stretches 9,000 square feet in size, and presented a huge challenge for archaeologists and architects alike.
The mosaic could not simply be dug out of the ground before the foundations were built – it was simply too massive.
2000 Years Old Biggest
Nor could it be removed in pieces, as that would have affected its historical context. Considering it was approximately 2,000 years old, the mosaic’s integrity had to be respected as a rare archaeological find, so the challenge became: how to preserve it but continue building the hotel?
The solution, never done before, was to combine the hotel with a museum’s mission, and create a museum-hotel hybrid that would fulfill both buildings’ functions.
A plan was drawn up for workers to uncover the mosaic and built large columns or pillars at various points around it. After that, a platform of sorts was constructed above it, creating the perfect vantage points for gazing down at the mosaic.
Rooms off the platform were added that function as the hotel’s amenities, including the fitness centre, swimming pool, conference rooms and more.
The Antakya Museum Hotel is much more than a place to stay; it is a luxurious spot to spend a few days, but it also offers an amazing, large dose of history and archaeology along with its five-star luxury.
Moreover, the mosaic is unique in many ways other than its huge dimensions. The length of time it took to construct it, archaeologists say, is unprecedented for a work of its kind. Construction began on it in 300 B.C., and continued until approximately 1200 A.D.
Over the course of those 15 centuries, contributions to it were made by Arabs, Egyptians, the Romans and the Greeks, to name only some of the artistic expertise contained within it. It is truly the work of many, many hands.
Like all tourist destinations, the hotel endured difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Turkey, like every nation, is struggling to cope with the new variants.
Bookings at the hotel are down, but the mosaic that is its centrepiece, part of Turkey’s long and storied history, will remain a huge draw during good times and challenging ones. The mosaic’s existence is a testament to the artistic genius of many artisans over many hundreds if not thousands of years.
And the hotel’s very existence demonstrates that archaeological treasures need not be destroyed to make way for commercial enterprises.
They can, in fact, flourish together, when innovation and determination are brought together to solve the challenge of preserving history while encouraging and supporting business.
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One of the hotel’s slogans is this: “Where history meets contemporary luxury.” Looking at the spectacular mosaic, a prized object that represents so much of Turkey’s glorious past, it is easy to see why preserving it was so vital.
There is no mosaic anywhere in the world as big – or as beautiful – as the one that graces the floor of the Antakya Museum Hotel.
Other hotel displays pale in comparison, because the mosaic combines art, history, story telling and creativity in its enormous size.