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x0x The Health Museum of Edirne

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  • TRH
    [For photographs of the museum see: http://turkradio.us/k/health/ ] x0x The Health Museum of Edirne By ABDULLAH KILIC The Bayezid II Complex at Edirne, where
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 1, 2006
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      [For photographs of the museum see: http://turkradio.us/k/health/ ]

      x0x The Health Museum of Edirne


      The Bayezid II Complex at Edirne, where mental patients
      were once soothed with `water' and `music', has been
      selected Europe's best museum.

      By chance one weekend we found ourselves at the
      historic Darussifa (House of Cures), identified by the
      sign on its facade as the `Health Museum of the
      University of Thrace', which is situated on the banks
      of the Tunca River in Edirne. The fragrance of flowers
      and chirping of birds in the garden were the first
      signs that we had come to a unique place. Not knowing
      what to make of the faint melodies in the haunting
      `Ussak' mode that reached our ears already in the first
      court, we at first assumed there were some Turkish
      classical music buffs in the vicinity. When the music
      got appreciably louder as we approached the second
      court, we decided there must be a concert going on
      inside. The minute we opened the door of the Darussifa
      (Arabic for `house of health'), we saw an ensemble of
      singers and instrumentalists, performing Ottoman music
      in traditional costume.

      We weren't mistaken in our second surmise! How nice. We
      were going to be treated to classical Turkish music as
      we toured the--by its new name--Bayezid II Health
      Museum of the University of Thrace. The gurgle of water
      from a fountain in the center of the courtyard mingled
      with the music of Ottoman composers Itri and Dede
      Efendi. The strains of music in the courtyard's perfect
      acoustics made for a truly enchanting atmosphere.


      The shafts of light streaming in through the 12 small
      domes surrounding the main dome were like natural
      spotlights. While the musicians, seated some 10-15
      meters beyond the fountain, calmly went on playing, in
      the tiny rooms at the side doctors persisted despite
      the years in their curative efforts. Clearly everyone
      from doctor to nurse was well aware of the Darussifa's
      founding purpose.

      And what about the patients who listened silently to
      the doctor's every word of advice? Everything was in
      keeping with the Darussifa tradition. Even the rituals
      were as lively as on the first day. Viewed from a
      distance everything, from the doctors and nurses to the
      patients and the instrumental ensemble, was so
      life-like that it was difficult to detect they were not
      until you were standing right next to them. Even the
      musicians' instruments and the costumes worn by the
      mannequins were authentic, and the doctors'
      prescriptions written in India ink. Perhaps for this
      reason the Darussifa has been dubbed a `living museum'.


      As we strolled about in this enchanting atmosphere, a
      line from Prof. Dr. Osman Inci's book, `Living
      Museum', caught my eye: `The University of Thrace
      Health Museum was deemed worthy of the Museum of Europe
      Award in 2004,' distinguishing itself among hundreds of
      museums that entered the competition.

      To tell the truth, this place more than deserves the
      prize for Europe's best museum. When Sultan Bayezid II
      in 1484 ordered a `darussifa' to be built for `those
      seeking a cure for their ills', could he ever have
      guessed that five centuries later it would become one
      of the most acclaimed museums in Europe? Or did the
      architect, Mimar Hayreddin, who began construction
      immediately following the sultan's decree, suspect that
      his name would go down in history inscribed gold
      letters as the architect of this monument? Although the
      answer to both questions is undoubtedly no, the Bayezid
      Complex, which consists of a mosque, a medical college,
      a soup kitchen, a bath and the darussifa, is spoken of
      with high praise in the world today.


      One of the Ottoman State's finest hospitals in the
      period when it was built, the Darussifa fell into
      disuse towards the end of the 19th century and was
      eventually abandoned.

      Now, for the last five years it has served as the
      Health Museum of the University of Thrace. But this
      period of calm ended last month with its selection as
      `Best Museum of Europe', ushering in a new era of
      splendor. From 1488 until the Russian occupation of
      Edirne in 1877, the Darussifa was a giant complex where
      patients sought remedies for their ailments. From this
      date on however the door was sealed.

      Surviving merely as a building from 1877 to 1980, the
      Darussifa was turned over to the University of Thrace
      in the eighties. Towards the end of the 1990s, its fate
      was transformed when the University's rector, Prof. Dr.
      Osman Inci, proposed turning it into a health museum
      and its `dark days' were suddenly turned to light.
      Undergoing a brief restoration, the Darussifa, with the
      significant contributions of Dr.

      Faruk Bayulkem and Dr. Ratip KazancIgil, was rapidly
      transformed into the venue that would earn it the title
      `best museum of Europe'. When the adjacent Medical
      College is added in, the Darussifa, a three-part
      structure consisting of two courts and a main building,
      is actually a complex design.

      Six rooms surround the rectangular first court, four
      the second. The principal space, which is used as a
      museum today, is a spacious area with a central dome
      and 12 smaller domes. There are ten sickrooms, six for
      winter, four for summer, each with a view of the
      fountain. The Medical College immediately next to the
      Darussifa has been converted into a Painting and
      Sculpture Museum where works by contemporary artists
      are exhibited.


      Treatment with music is known to have been practiced in
      many of the civilizations of Anatolia. The Greeks, who
      regarded music as the origin of all virtue, used music
      for the edification and purification of the soul. The
      Greek philosopher Plato, student of Socrates, said in
      the 5th century B.C. that music, with its harmony and
      rhythm, endowed a person with tolerance as well as
      giving him comfort. And legend has it that 2400 years
      ago Hippocrates, who is regarded as the father of
      medicine, took some of his patients to temples so they
      could listen to the sacred hymns.

      But it is also a known fact that in the period when
      this `house of cures' was being established at Edirne,
      mental patients in some countries were being burned at
      the stake on the grounds that they were `possessed by
      devils'. Second only to the Ottoman Fatih Darussifa in
      Istanbul, the Edirne Health Museum was an important
      clinic where patients were cured by `water' and


      The renowned 17th century Ottoman traveller Evliya
      Celebi describes in his `Seyahatname' how the patients
      he saw here were treated: `The chief physician of the
      Darussifa, who has ample experience in the beneficial
      effect of music on the human soul, has his patients
      listen to music in various modes. Noting how their
      heartbeat either slows down or speeds up, he determines
      which melody is appropriate for them and then begins
      the treatment.' There is an expression the Turks use
      frequently in connection with music: `Music is the food
      of the soul'.

      Perhaps it is a legacy from that time. Who knows?

    • TRH
      re: x0x The Health Museum of Edirne Mr. Mustafa Hunca has notified us that there is video of the Edire Health Museum at:
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 4, 2006
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        re: x0x The Health Museum of Edirne

        Mr. Mustafa Hunca has notified us that there is video of the Edire
        Health Museum at:



        After I have read you message about Health Museum in Edirne, I thought the
        attached video might be within your range of interest. It was filmed, edite
        by VideosofTurkey crew and is currently published on the same site.

        I hope you enjoy it thouroughly.

        Best Rgds
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