Istanbul Archaeological Museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of historical artifacts. Located in Sultanahmet, the museum welcomes millions of visitors every year.
You can find brief information about the history and artifacts of the Archeology Museum in this article. In addition, the entrance fee and visiting hours of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum have been noted.
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History of Istanbul Archaeological Museum
The history of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum began in the late 1800s. With the efforts of the famous Ottoman painter Osman Hamdi Bey, some of the historical artifacts in the Ottoman lands were moved to Istanbul. It was a period when museology was just beginning in the Ottoman Empire.
The lands of the Ottoman Empire spanned three continents. An incredible history was hidden in Mesopotamia and Anatolia, where the Ottoman Empire ruled. An important part of the ancient Greek and Roman heritage remained within the Ottoman lands.
For example, in the image above, you can see the lion relief in the archaeological museum. This artifact, brought from Mesopotamia, adorned the Ishtar Gate, one of the gateways to Babylon.
1. Hagia Irene Church
Hagia Irene Church was the first building to host archaeological artifacts brought to Istanbul. Hagia Irene was essentially a Byzantine church. However, it was never converted into a mosque and was used as a functional space inside the Topkapi Palace. It was an ideal place for the Archeology Museum to be established in Istanbul.
2. Development of Archeology in the World
The development of archeology in European countries dates back to the 1700s. For example, the French Emperor Napoleon organized a military expedition to Egypt in 1799, where he fought with the Ottomans. It is known that Napoleon took art historians and archaeologists with him on this expedition.
Napoleon’s goal was to find archaeological remains from Ancient Egypt and bring them to the Louvre Museum in Paris. Imperial countries, especially France, England and later Germany, were in competition with each other on archeology.
As a result of this race, today there is an incredible wealth of historical artifacts in places such as the Louvre Museum and the British Museum. These historical artifacts have been brought from all over the world.
Although the Ottoman Empire was late to participate in this race, it was able to establish a very important museum, such as the Istanbul Archeology Museum, as it had historically very rich lands.
3. Foundation of the Archeology Museum
The Istanbul Archeology Museum was founded by Osman Hamdi Bey, a painter and intellectual. His work titled The Tortoise Trainer is exhibited in Pera Museum today (this famous painting can be seen in the image above).
Osman Hamdi Bey exhibited works he brought from all over Anatolia in Hagia Irene Church. However, the historical building did not have enough space. For this reason, the construction of the new museum building has begun.
Thus, the construction of a building bearing the traces of the new Ottoman architecture in the 19th century was initiated. The new Archaeological Museum would be within the walls of the Topkapi Palace complex, just like Hagia Irene Church.
4. Architect of the Archaeological Museum
The architect of the Archaeological Museum was a French architect named Alexandre Vallaury. Vallaury built a magnificent building that stands out for its Neo-Classical architecture between 1897 and 1901.
Alexandre Vallaury has contributed to the architecture of Istanbul with the buildings he built on the Historical Peninsula and the shores of the Bosphorus. Pera Palas Hotel and Afif Ahmet Pasha Mansion on the Bosphorus were also built by this talented architect.
Istanbul Archeology Museum Artifacts
The artifacts in the Istanbul Archeology Museum are considered to be one of the largest collections in the world. If you want to travel through the history of Anatolia and Mesopotamia, you should definitely visit the Istanbul Archeology Museum.
1. The Collections in the Museum
The collections in the Istanbul Archeology Museums include works such as the Kadesh Peace Treaty (between Ancient Egypt and the Hittites), Alexander Sarcophagus and ancient sculptures.
The museum’s art collections are so large that some tour companies promote this museum from head to toe by organizing full-day tours that include only the Archeology Museum.
2. The Story of Tiled Pavilion
Tiled Pavilion was one of the first Ottoman buildings in Istanbul. Built in 1471, the Tiled Pavilion is now part of the Istanbul Archeology Museum. Let’s talk briefly about the story of Tiled Pavilion.
According to some sources, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror wanted to build three pavilions in three different architectural orders. These would be in Turkish, Frankish and Persian orders.
Decoration masters and architects were also brought from abroad to decorate the pavilions. Thus, the pavilions requested by the sultan were built in today’s Topkapi Palace complex. However, over time, two of them disappeared due to earthquakes and fires.
Of these three magnificent mansions, only the Tiled Pavilion, which symbolizes the Turkish order, has survived until today. Tiled Kiosk today constitutes an important part of the Istanbul Archeology Museums complex.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum Entry Fee 2024
Istanbul Archaeology Museum entrance fee is 340 Turkish Liras as of 2024. Istanbul Museum Pass is valid in this museum. The information on the ticket price was last updated on November 21, 2023.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum Hours 2024
Istanbul Archaeological Museums opening hours are between 09:00 in the morning and 18:30 in the evening. Please note that the ticket office closes at 17:30. This museum is open every day of the week. Information on visiting hours was last updated on November 21, 2023.
It should also be noted that although the main building is open to visitors, the Tiled Pavilion and the Museum of Ancient Oriental Works are still closed for renovations as of November 2023.
Visiting times of museums in Istanbul may change due to events and renovations. Before going to the museum, I recommend you to visit the official website of the Museum and review the latest situation.
How to Get to The Museum?
Istanbul Archeology Museum is located in Sultanahmet, one of the most touristic districts of Istanbul.
The museum is very easy to find as it is inside the Topkapi Palace complex. If you are staying in Sultanahmet, you can reach the Archeology Museum by turning left after passing through the monumental gate of Topkapi Palace.
When you enter from the main gate of Topkapi Palace, you will first see Hagia Irene Church on your left. The Archeology Museum is located on the slightly sloping road that you will see when you turn left after passing the church.
If you are coming from Taksim Square, you can take Funicular F1 to Kabatas and transfer to T1 Tram line from there.
After getting off at Gulhane Tram Stop, you will see the secondary gate of the palace opening to Gulhane Park. You can easily reach the museum from here without waiting for security lines.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum is a hidden treasure for those who are interested in the history of Anatolia and Mesopotamia. For this reason, it is among the best museums in Istanbul.
If you want to learn more about the museums in Istanbul, you can find dozens of similar articles in the Museums of Istanbul category of this site. Nearly 40 museums are introduced under this category.
Written by Serhat Engul