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Istanbul Archaeological Museums

From The Marmara Taksim
30 Min
50 min
Address Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
Phone (0212) 520 77 41


9 AM to 8 PM

Exterior of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums with columns on the entrance and a statue outside

Housing over one million archaeological specimens and artifacts, the three institutions that make up the Istanbul Archeology Museums represent a massive swathe of human history and civilization.

Composed of the main Archeology Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Museum of Islamic Art (also known as the Tiled Kiosk Museum, after the building that houses it), this compound is extraordinary in every way. Their collection was largely established by 19th century museum director Osman Hamdi Bey, but various artifacts had already been collected by the Ottomans over the years.  

The Istanbul Archeology Museums are considered the oldest in Turkey; they themselves are also located in and around some of Istanbul’s most prominent buildings, such as the nearby Topkapi Palace. With a collection of objects ranging from the 4th century BC Alexander Sarcophagus to a Babylonian obverse and Roman floor tiles, the museums are evidence of many millennia of human creativity.  

Head of the statues in the Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Archeology Museum 

The main Archeology Museum is housed in a grand neoclassical building. It was founded by the aforementioned Osman Hamdi Bey, who was the son of an Ottoman Grand Vizier; its construction began in 1881, and the building itself was inspired by the Alexander Sarcophagus. Hamdi Bey himself was also an archeologist, and he led some expeditions to various ancient sites, adding his own discoveries to the museum’s collection. 

Besides the Alexander Sarcophagus, which is arguably the most famous piece in the Istanbul Archeology Museums’ collection, the main building is also home to a wealth of other artifacts. These include countless Ancient Greek statues, a panel from the Babylonian Ishtar Gate, various Byzantine sarcophagi, and much more. Its focus is largely on sarcophagi; it is also the main repository of relics from Istanbul’s Ottoman and Byzantine history.  

Museum of the Ancient Orient 

Initially a school of fine arts commissioned by Hamdi Bey, the building that now houses the Museum of the Ancient Orient was converted in 1917. It is located right across the courtyard from the main Archeology Museum building. Museum curators thought it would make sense to separate their collections of Near East and Asian art and objects from the Byzantine and Ottoman collections housed in the main museum: thus the Museum of the Ancient Orient came into being. The origins of the statues and relics of the Museum of the Ancient Orient include the Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Akkadian, and more.  

Museum of Islamic Art 

The Museum of Islamic Art is not just known for its collection: the building it is housed in, the Tiled Kiosk, is a landmark all by itself. The Tiled Kiosk is a pavilion located in the outer gardens of Topkapi Palace, completed in 1472. It was commissioned by Mehmed the Conqueror, and became a museum in 1953. 

The Persian-inspired Tiled Kiosk houses mainly pottery, ceramics, and other earthenware from the Seljuk, Anatolian, and Ottoman peoples. These are some of the most stunning creations in the world, dating back to the 12th century.  

How to Visit 

These museums are open to the public every day. You can buy tickets at the museum, and book guided museum tours here 

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