ISTANBUL has been the city of dreams, capital of empires and now as a modern voyager you can look back in awe at the rich history of this megatropolis through the eyes of many museums scattered about the city. History stalks every corner of the districts and no matter where you are, you are likely to be within a 10-minute walk of a museum. To enjoy the rich tapestry of life of Istanbul, here is our list of the best ones.
The Best Museums in Istanbul
Run as a museum since July 2005, the building was built in 1893 by architect Achille Manousos and restored recently. It houses Anatolian weights and measurements, Oriental portrait paintings and Kutahya tiles. Its most noted painting is Osman Hamdi’s “The Tortoise Trainer”. Along with three art galleries, the museum is run by the Suna-Inan Kirac Foundation, a project by the famous Koç family.
Based at the house where Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, lived and worked from 1918-1919 before the War of Independence.Built in 1908, restored in 1943, and opened in 1981, the top floor was reserved for his family, while Ataturk used the middle floor and the lower floor for his loyal officer. There are vast displays of photographs of Ataturk throughout his life, as well as some of his clothes, belongings and paintings.
A wonderful complex, built by the architect Vallaury and influenced by famous Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey, it houses the Tiled Kiosk, the Museum of the Ancient Orient, a collection of artifacts and art dating back to Greek, Roman and Anatolian times, as well as the Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great and other objects found in the Sidon excavation. The collection comprises of about 15000 pieces.
The building used to be a local library, but was restored and opened as the Turkish Calligraphic Arts Museum featuring Turkish art, Korans and Hilye-i serif (descriptions of the Prophet), equipment and apparatus for calligraphic writing.
Originally opened in 1975, in Tepebasi district, the works of the Caricaturists Association were relocated to its new Fatih district location. It offers a modern and fresh outlook to the round of museum visits with its rich collection of written and drawn satirical works.
Museum of Turkish & Islamic Art (Ibrahim Pasa Palace)
One of the most important in Istanbul, this museum houses a collection of art and ethnography in the Ibrahim Pasa Palace. Built in the 16th century and donated to Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha by the great sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, it was an important seat in the Ottoman palace hierarchy. After Ibrahim’s death, the palace was used as a military barracks and then opened as a museum.
Sadberk Hanim Museum
Located in the historical Azaryan residence along the Bosphorus, the museum is a three-story old Ottoman house housing a collection of Anatolian-based works of art, antiques and relics dating from 6000 BC.
Modern Arts Museum
Opened by Eczacibasi family, this is the first and only modern arts museum in the city. Housed at a renovated old docks area in Karaköy and facing Topkapi Palace, it has exhibitions, a photograph gallery and a sculpture courtyard.
Carpet and Kilim Museum
Located within the Hunkar Kasri (Royal Residence), it is north of the Blue Mosque complex and was the place where the Sultan used to rest before he joined in prayer. It best portrays unique pieces of old Ottoman rugs and kilims
Sakip Sabanci Museum
The building is widely known as the Horse Mansion and stands on the Bosphorus. Built in the 19th century as a mansion, it was converted to a museum and consists of antique furnishings and art collections.
The collection features manuscripts and extensive collections of 19th and 20th century paintings. It is also a noted base on the international exhibition circuit for hosting displays from world-renowned artists, such as Rodin.
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