Archeological Museums, just down the hill from Topkapı Palace (or just up the hill from Gülhane Parkı), hold outstanding
collections of art from
Near East, Greece and Rome.
When archeology became a science in
the 19th century, most of the Middle
East was ruled by the Ottoman sultan,
who got all the best stuff. These were
private collections, so they're pretty
There are actually three museums here:
the Archeological Museum, the Museum
of the Ancient Near East, and the Tiled
Kiosk (Çinili Köşk) (map).
The oldest stuff, in the Museum
of the Ancient Near East, (Eski
Şark Eserleri Müzesi) includes
one-of-a-kind treasures like the
tiled reliefs of lions and kings
from the fabled gates of
Ninevah, and the oldest
written peace treaty ever
discovered (cuneiform tablets which
preserved the words of the Hittite and
Egyptian kings). (The Egyptian hieroglyphic
version of the treaty was carved
into stone at the Great Temple of
Amon at Karnak, Luxor, Egypt.)
The Archeological Museum (Arkeoloji
Müzesi) is devoted to later
stuff; ie, after about 500 BC, It
includes many of the finest Greek and Roman marble
statues discovered in Anatolia.
Look also for artifacts found in the Yenikapı excavations which uncovered the Harbor of Theodosius and exposed the remains of 34 wrecked ships from the 7th to 11th centuries, and even Stone Age burials up to 8500 years old.
Köşk) is among the oldest
Turkish secular buildings in Istanbul,
an elegant residence built by Sultan
Mehmet the Conqueror.
It's been beautifully restored and
is now an outstanding Museum
of Turkish Faïence. More...
Depending on your interest in very
old art, fine statuary and tiles, you
could spend between one and
four hours in the museum
complex. There is a lot to see, and
you may wish to come back for a few
more hours some other day.
The easiest way to reach the museums
is to go to the first court of Topkapı
Palace (the tree-filled area open
to the public without charge), turn
left about midway into the court, walk
down the cobbled street and look for
the museum complex on your right. Or take the T1 Bağcılar-Kabataş tram to the Gülhane stop and walk up Alemdar Caddesi, bearing left and into Gülhane Parkı, then up the stone road on the right.
||This is what those white marble statues looked like when they were new...
The entire museum complex is open
daily except Monday from
09:00 am to 19:00 (7 pm). (From November through March till 17:00/5 pm.) Admission costs TL15. The museum complex is included in the Istanbul Museum Pass. More...
Photograph (without flash) as you like.
In warm weather, a shady
cafe is open amidst a
forests of old columns, stones
in the courtyard.
Just down the hill from the Archeological
Museums is shady Gülhane
for a stroll in fine weather. More...
Istanbul Archeological Museums
(İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri)
Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Sokak (map)
Gülhane, Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 (212) 520 7740, -41, -42
Fax: +90 (212) 527 43 00
—by Tom Brosnahan