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Turkish & Islamic Art Museum

Last Updated on September 14, 2023

Located on the Hippodrome Square across the Sultanahmet / Blue Mosque, the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum (Türk-Islam Eserleri Müzesi) is a treasure-house of beautiful objects from the Ottoman, Seljuk, and earlier periods beginning in the 8th century. If you have an interest in Islamic Art, this museum is definitely for you.

Highlights of the Museum

The Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum offers a captivating glimpse into the artistic traditions of the Ottoman Empire, where religious art was held in high esteem, mirroring the trends of medieval Europe.

Visitors can marvel at an array of artifacts, including grand Turkish carpets, beautifully illuminated Qur'ans, and intricate examples of calligraphy. The museum also showcases an impressive collection of carved and inlaid wood, glass, porcelain, and a myriad of gemstones. These are just a few examples of the extensive range of Turkish and Islamic arts on display.

If you have an appreciation for these art forms, a visit to this museum is highly recommended.

In addition to the exhibits, the museum houses a charming café. Here, you can unwind with a refreshing cup of coffee or tea while enjoying a stunning view of the Blue Mosque.

For those who enjoy collecting mementos, the museum also features a souvenir shop. Here, you can purchase a variety of items that reflect the rich heritage of the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum.

Visiting Information

Planning your visit to the Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum is made easier with the following information on opening hours and transportation options:

Opening Hours

The museum welcomes visitors seven days a week.

  • Monday to Sunday: Doors open at 9:00 AM and close at 7:30 PM in the summer (6:30 PM in the winter). Please note that the last admission is typically an hour before closing time.

It's important to remember that these hours may vary during national holidays and special events. For the most accurate and current information, it's recommended to check the museum's official website or contact them directly before your visit.

Transportation

The Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum is situated in the Sultanahmet area, which is well-connected by various modes of public transportation.

  • Tram: The most convenient way to reach the museum is by taking the T1 tram line. You'll need to alight at the Sultanahmet stop, from where the museum is just a short walk away.
  • Bus: There are several bus lines that serve the Sultanahmet area. Be sure to check the local bus schedules for the most suitable route.
  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available throughout Istanbul and can provide a direct journey to the museum. However, due to the potential for heavy traffic in the Sultanahmet area, it's advisable to allow extra travel time if choosing this option.

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts Entrance Fee

There are two options for purchasing entrance tickets to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.

  • Museum Card: If you're a history enthusiast planning to visit multiple historical sites around Istanbul or throughout Turkey, it's recommended to purchase a Museum Pass. This card offers access to a wide range of museums and historical sites.
  • Single Pass Ticket: If you're only planning to visit the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, you can opt for a single pass ticket. This ticket provides one-time access to the museum.

Exploring Nearby Attractions

The Turkish and Islamic Art Museum is centrally located in Sultanahmet. This makes it easy to pair your visit with other historical sites in the area:

  • Blue Mosque: Located directly opposite the museum, this iconic mosque is a must-visit.
  • Hagia Sophia: Just beyond the Blue Mosque, you'll find the Hagia Sophia. Be prepared for long queues; it's recommended to visit this site first to avoid peak crowds.
  • Basilica Cistern: Across from the Hagia Sophia, this remarkable historical site is well worth adding to your itinerary. Do note that it can get quite busy during the day.
  • Topkapı Palace: Located behind the Hagia Sophia, this expansive palace requires a significant amount of time to explore fully due to its size and the wealth of attractions it offers.

History of the Museum

The Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum has a rich and fascinating history. Originally, the museum was housed within a dedicated section of the Süleymaniye Mosque, one of the most renowned structures designed by the celebrated architect Mimar Sinan. However, in 1983, the museum was relocated to its present location, directly opposite the Blue Mosque. This site was formerly the Palace of İbrahim Pasha, a grand residence commissioned by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent's Grand Vizier, İbrahim Pasha.

The museum underwent extensive renovations and was temporarily closed to the public for several years. It finally reopened its doors in January 2015, once again welcoming visitors to explore its vast collection of Turkish and Islamic art.

The Palace of İbrahim Pasha itself is a sight to behold. Constructed under the patronage of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, it reflects the opulence and grandeur of the Ottoman period. İbrahim Pasha, a close friend and trusted advisor of Sultan Süleyman, resided here, marking an important chapter in the palace's history.

Who Was Ibrahim Pasha

İbrahim Pasha was a significant figure in the court of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, serving not only as a close friend but also as a trusted confidant. His influence over the Sultan was so substantial that it sparked concern in the Sultan's wife, Roxelana (also known as Hürrem), who feared that the throne might be passed to İbrahim.

The situation escalated when İbrahim Pasha chose to support the candidacy of Prince Mustafa as the successor to the throne, instead of Roxelana's son, Selim. This decision prompted Roxelana to take drastic action.

Roxelana accused İbrahim Pasha of treason, leading to a tragic turn of events. On the night of March 14, 1536, after sharing a meal with the Sultan at Topkapı Palace, İbrahim Pasha was strangled. Following his death, all his wealth was seized by the imperial government.

Visit the Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum

The Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum, with its rich collection of Islamic artworks, serves as a remarkable portal into the Islamic world and Turkish history. The museum building itself is a testament to this rich past, housing a diverse array of artifacts that offer a comprehensive glimpse into the artistic and cultural heritage of the region.

Address: Binbirdirek Mah.Atmeydani Sok. Ibrahim Pasa Sarayi No:46 34122 Istanbul/Türkiye
Email: tiem@ktb.gov.tr

—by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Julide Koca

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