Archaeological Museum in Istanbul (İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzesi)

Archaeological Museum in Istanbul (İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri)

Istanbul city is full of great places and unique attractions. One of them is Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Located in Sultanahmet area near Topkapi Palace, it has a rich collection of interesting pieces from different civilizations such as Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, Hittite, Roman, Byzantine and some from Ottoman. So keep in mind that you will spent there about 2 hours for sure.

In Istanbul Archaeology Museums you can see the famous Sarcophagi of Alexander the Great and King Tabnit and many other really stunning sarcophagi.

So let’s have an overview of Istanbul Archaeological Museum and it’s history with

History of Archaeology Museum

Archaeological Museum in Istanbul (İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri)

Archaeological Museum in Istanbul (İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri)

During his 1867 summer tour of London, Paris, and Vienna, Sultan Abdülaziz of the Ottoman Empire visited the many archaeological museums in those cities and was very impressed by them. Hence, he decided to construct such a museum in Istanbul.

Construction on the main building commenced in 1881 and was commissioned by Osman Hamdi Bey. Alexander Vallaury was appointed as the architect. The building’s neo-Greek architectural style became visible in 1908. The inspiration behind its facade can be attributed to the Sarcophagus of the Crying Women and the Alexander Sarcophagus; both these ancient objects of art can be found on display inside the museum.

In 1883, Osman Hamdi Bey began construction of The Museum of the Ancient Orient as a Sanayi-i Nefise school, i.e., a fine arts school. Later, it was declared as a museum and open to visitors in 1935. After a brief shutdown for renovation, it was reopened in 1974.

Archaeology Museum in Istanbul

Archaeology Museum in Istanbul

The oldest building in this museum complex is The Tiled Kiosk. Sultan Mehmed II commissioned it in 1472. The structure prominently features Ottoman civil architecture and used to be a part of the outer gardens of the Topkapı Palace. It underwent a few reorganizations, such as being designated as a Turkish and Islamic art museum in 1953, before its final incorporation into the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. This museum is known for its displays of fine Turkish ceramics and tiles.

What to See: Collection at the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul

Archaeological Museum in Istanbul

Alexander Sarcophagus in istanbul

The Istanbul Archaeology Museum refers to a group of 3 museums that house more than 1 million artifacts representing just about all the civilizations and eras in the known history of the world.

These 3 museums are the Archaeological Museum, which is in the primary building; the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Museum of Islamic Art, which is located in the Tiled Kiosk. These 3 museums are located in Istanbul’s Eminönü quarter, next to the Topkapı Palace and Gülhane Park.

The pediments of the museum entrance gates have the Ottoman Turkish inscription «Asar-ı Atika Müzesi» meaning museum of antiquities. The inscription has Sultan Abdulhamid II’s tughra.

Archaeology Museum in Istanbul

Tabnit sarcophagus, Archaeological Museum in Istanbul

Osman Hamdi Bey excavated in Mount Nemrud, Myrina, Kyme, other Alolia Necropolises and Lagina Hekate Temple and as a result of excavations he conducted in Sayda (Sidon) between 1887-1888, he reached the necropolis of King Sidon and returned to Istanbul with many sarcophagi. Additional, governors from many provinces were also forced to send newly discovered artifacts to Istanbul. This is what helped create the vast collection at the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

Besides The Alexander Sarcophagus and the Sarcophagus of the Crying Women, other notable items on display include Statue of an Ephebos, Snake’s head from the Serpentine Column, 2 Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty tablets, and vast number of Ottoman seals, coins, seals, medals, and decorations, etc.

Location and opening hours

Archaeological Museum

Medusa Head at Archaeological Museum

Archaeological Museum located in Sultanahmet Old town district near Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofya mosque, Gülhane park and attractions of historical area. If you stay in Sultanahmet so you can get there by walk from your hotel, those who stay in other districts can use T1 tram line to reach Sultanahmet.

Opening hours

  • In summer season: 1 April — 31 October from 09:00 to 20:00. Box office close ar 19:00
  • In winter season: 31 October — 1 April from 09:00 to 17:30. Box office close at 17:00

Entry Fees 

The admission tickets to the Archaeological Museum complex in Istanbul are priced at 340 Turkish Lira (TL). For the owners of Museum Pass Istanbul entrance is free.

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