Essential Museums That You Have to Visit in Istanbul
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Five Essential Museums That You Have to Visit in Istanbul

Created : 13 Dec 2022
Five Essential Museums That You Have to Visit in Istanbul

By Justin Mays:

Istanbul is, without a doubt, one of the most historic cities in the world. First, it was Byzantium, to later became Constantinople. It was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, to later become of the Ottoman Empire. Years later, in 1923, the Republic of Turkey was established and the country's capital was moved to Ankara.

But in addition to being a city with a lot of history, it is also a city with a lot of art, and that is something that can be appreciated in each of its corners. It is not surprising, then, that the metropolis has more than 80 museums, in which a very important part of Turkish culture is perfectly exhibited.

If you want to be part of the history, art and culture of this wonderful country, we recommend you visit the following five museums. We hope you like them!

Istanbul Archaeological Museum

The Istanbul Archaeological Museum was founded in 1891 by the Turkish painter and archaeologist Osman Hamdi. To understand the origins of this museum, it is necessary to go back to 1846, when the Topkapi Palace began to house a small collection of antiquities. Later in 1869, it became the court museum, but later, in 1891, it opened its doors to the public, becoming the first museum in Turkey.

Today, the collection of this museum is divided into three: the Archaeological Museums, known for housing historical objects such as the Alexander Sarcophagus; the collection of oriental art, which contains some pieces from the Babylonian Gate of Ishtar, and the collection of ceramics and jewels, which is located in a building that Mehmed II ordered to be built.

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art is located in Sultanahmet and is undoubtedly one of the most important museums in Istanbul. The palace in which this museum is located was built when the Ottoman soldier Ibrahim Pasa married the daughter of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. After the death of Ibrahim Pasa, in 1536, and until 1983, the palace was used for various purposes, until, finally, it became a museum.

Today, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art exhibits an art collection of some 40,000 objects, including carpets, ceramics, sculptures, sarcophagi and various versions of the Koran and lecterns for reading them.

In addition to this collection, in this museum, you can also see an ethnological section that recreates daily life in different cities of Turkey through the years.

Ara Güler Museum

Ara Güler may be the most international Turkish photojournalist in history. For years, he has been known as 'the eye of Istanbul' and 'the photographer of Istanbul', which is not surprising, because he immortalized the metropolis hundreds of times from a unique and delicate perspective.

Born in 1928 in Istanbul to Armenian parents, Ara Güler entered the world of art very early. He worked in film studios, studied drama and in 1958 became Life-Time's first Middle East correspondent.

Now, his museum honors his career and displays some of his most famous photographs. This small 'sacred place' is located in Bomontiada, the cultural heart of the Şişli district. Although the museum is always there, the exhibits change every six months.

It is very worth visiting, not only for the photographs themselves but also for the neighborhood and the cultural and gastronomic options it offers.

Pera Museum

The Pera Museum is an art museum located in the Tepebaşı neighborhood, in the Beyoğlu district. This cultural center, which opened in mid-2005, is located in a historic building built in 1893 by the architect Achille Manoussos.

Regularly, this museum features international exhibitions but also has permanent collections of Orientalist paintings, Anatolian weights and measures, Kütahya tiles and pottery.

Likewise, it also has a photography collection that has more than 7,000 photos taken by artists such as Caranza, Robertson, Pascal Sébah, Kargopoulo, Abdullah Biraderler, Gülmez Biraderler and Ali Sami Aközer, among others.

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Last but not least, we recommend you visit the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. Although indeed, this cultural center is currently closed because it is moving to Karaköy, it is scheduled to reopen in the coming months. We hope you can have a little patience because it is worth it!

This museum was founded in 2004, to become a meeting point for local and international artists. Within its walls, you can find all kinds of creative disciplines, such as photography, design and architecture, among many others.

Stay tuned!

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