Guide Location: Turkey » Istanbul
Guide Type: Self-guided city tour
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.4 km
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Nevit Dilmen
Istanbul is a city with nearly 2 millenia of history as a capital of empires and the largest city of the republic of Turkey. Tourists may see history on every corner, but museums have the finest artifacts on display. We invite you to walk through the best museums in Istanbul in the guide below.
Tour Stops and Attractions
1) Hagia SophiaHagia Sophia means “Holy Wisdom” in Greek. This monumental structure was once an Orthodox patriarchal Basilica, then a mosque, and now, finally, is a Museum in the city of Istanbul. It was built in the fourth century by Constantine the Great as a Church, and it has seen much of the changing ruling powers of Istanbul ever since.
Many people mistake it as being dedicated to Saint Sofia, but the church was originally dedicated to the second person of the Holy Trinity, and its full Greek name is “Church of the Holy Wisdom of God”, with Sophia meaning “Wisdom”.
Before its takeover by the Ottoman Turks in 1435, the church housed many holy relics. It was converted into a Mosque by Sultan Mehmed II, and it remained a mosque for the next 500 years.
Hagia Sophia is located in the Sultanahmet neighborhood and it is no doubt, one of the most important museums of Istanbul. It is one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture and was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1985. It houses many decorations that make it distinctive and it is famous for its beautiful mosaics that decorate the entire structure.
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2) Archaeology MuseumThe Istanbul Archaeology Museum actually consists of three museums which include: 1. The Archeological Museum 2. The Museum of the Ancient Orient and 3. The Museum of Islamic Art These three museums are collectively called the Istanbul Archeology Museum, which is located in the Eminonu district of Istanbul, near the Topkapi Palace. The museum houses some of the most remarkable objects and collections that span over a millennium in world history. The most distinctive and famous item exhibited in the museum is the Alexander Sarcophagus which was once believed to be made for Alexander the Great. The Kadesh Peace Treaty (1258 BC) is also present here which was signed between Hattusili III of the Hittite Empire and Ramsesses II of Egypt. There are over one million objects housed in the museum and the oldest objects age thousands of years Before Christ. The museum is distinctive as it has a vast collection of locally found artifacts, which are reminiscent of the origin of the city of Istanbul. Over 800,000 Ottoman decorations, coins, seals medals, stone works and statues are housed on the upper floors of the building where there is also a library with over 70,000 books. The museum working hours are from 9 am to 5 pm from Sunday to Tuesday.
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3) Istanbul Modern MuseumThe Istanbul modern museum of art is a museum of contemporary art located in the Beyoglu district. Istanbul has always been a rich centre of culture and history, and the modern museum of art gives visitors a taste of the “new city”.
This museum features the contemporary works of Turkish and also international artists. This was once a warehouse in the Tophane neighborhood on the Bosphorus and it is unique throughout Turkey, being the first of its kind found in the country. The museum is also a break from the centuries old mosques, churches and architecture found throughout the city of Istanbul. The building was inaugurated on the 11th of December 2004.
The Istanbul modern museum exhibits art collections on 2 floors. It has a permanent collection on the top floor, with works by Orhan Peker, Ismet Dogan, Seker Ahmet Ali Pasa, Omer Kalesi , Cihat Burak, Avni Arbas, Ihsan Cemal Karaburçak and Sema Gürbüz amongst others. A shop and a restaurant are also present on the top floor while temporary exhibits are held on the ground floor. This floor also consists of a library and a cinema hall along with a new media art area and a video art area.
The museum is accessible by the tram system and also has parking for those visitors who have their own cars. It is open from 10:00 am-6:00 pm from Tuesdays to Sunday, and from 10:00am-8:00pm on Thursday. It is closed on Mondays.
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4) Pera MuseumPera Museum is a private museum in the Tepebaşı quarter of the Beyoğlu district in Istanbul, Turkey. It was founded by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation with the aim of offering a broad range of high-quality culture and arts services. Inaugurated on 8 June 2005, the museum is located in the historic building of the former Hotel Bristol, which was designed by architect Achille Manoussos and built in 1893.
Pera Museum shares its three permanent collections Orientalist Paintings, Anatolian Weights and Measures, and Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics, as well as the values that these collections represent, with the public through exhibitions, publications, audio-visual events, educational activities, and academic works, striving to transmit these values to future generations.
The Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation's Orientalist Painting Collection brings together important works by European artists inspired by the Ottoman world, Turkey’s regional geography, as well as works of Ottoman artists and how they influenced one another from the 17th century to the early 19th. The Collection presents a vast visual panorama of the last two centuries of the Ottoman Empire, also includes works by Osman Hamdi Bey and his most famous painting, the Tortoise Trainer.
Working Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 10.00 - 19.00;
Sunday: 12.00 - 18.00
The Museum is closed on Mondays.
Long Fridays: Pera Museum is open and free of admissions from 18:00 to 22:00 every Friday.
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Sight description based on wikipedia
5) Adam Mickiewicz MuseumAdam Mickiewicz Museum is located in the house where Adam Mickiewicz, the great Polish poet, lived and died. Here you can find some of his manuscripts, paintings and historic documents. After a fire in the late 19th century, the house was renovated and established as a museum with the help of the Polish Museum of Literature in 1955.
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6) Istanbul Military MuseumIstanbul Military Museum is called the Askeri Müze in Turkish. It is dedicated to 1000 years of the Turkish military’s history. Originally the museum was opened in the Saint Irene Church, and it was shifted to the First Army Headquarters building during the 1950’s. Its current location is not far from Taksim Square in Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Harbiye district. The word “Harb” translates to “warfare” from the Turkish language and this site is an important military installation. The Ottoman Imperial Military Academy was also located here.
The museum hosts a fine display of uniforms, historical weapons and tools from various periods of the Turkish army’s history. A rail gun, Ottoman cannons, mortars, aircrafts and a helicopter are all on display outside the museum. Its most magnificent display is of campaign tents and standards that are present inside the museum. Historical army relics like the Byzantine chain that was stretched across the Golden Horn, during the siege of Constantinople, to keep out invaders in 1453, are displayed in the museum.
Temporary exhibits, meetings and cultural events are held in the East Wing of the museum. The ground floor contains displays of bows and arrows, curved daggers, lancets and other weapons. The museum is open every day to the public except Mondays and Tuesdays.
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7) Atatürk MuseumAtatürk Museum is of crucial importance for each person in Turkey, as it is entirely dedicated to the founder of the Turkish republic Mustafa Kemal, later called Ataturk, the father of the Turks. Here visitors can find his personal belongings, paintings, even clothes, plus many documents.
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