The façade is that of the old Hotel Bristol, just up the street from the far more famous Pera Palace Hotel (Pera Palas Oteli) overlooking the Golden Horn. Behind the Victorian-era façade (1893) all is modern, however: five floors of beautiful, well-lit art galleries.
To see everything, take the elevator/lift to the top (5th) floor and walk down.
I saw a fine temporary exhibit of Henri Cartier-Bresson photographs on the 5th and 4th floors.
The third floor is devoted to exhibitions of 17th- to 19th-century Orientalist paintings from the superb collections of the Kıraç family (founders of the Pera Museum), and the Gönül family.
The collections include more than 300 works by European, Ottoman and Turkish masters, including Osman Hamdi Bey. Pride of place goes to Osman Hamdi’s famous “Tortoise Trainer” (Kaplumbağa Terbiyecisi).
The first floor holds two permanent collections, of Kütahya faience (colored tiles and pottery), and Anatolian weights and measures (scales, balances, etc. in brass, copper, iron, steel and other materials.)
While you’re in the area, have a look at the Pera Palace Hotel just down the street (Meşrutiyet Caddesi). To see what the old Hotel Bristol looked like, walk in the opposite direction to the Grand Hotel de Londres (Büyük Londra Oteli), still operated as a hotel.
—by Tom Brosnahan