Filled with a wealth of ancient treasures, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums are awe-inspiring. It's located close to Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia. Osman Hamdi Bey, a museum director, artist and archaeologist curated and established the museum in the late 19th century.
There are three separate museums for you to explore.
The archaeological museum is a magnificent neoclassical building filled with an incredible ancient collection of sarcophagi. Highlights include the entrancing Alexander Sarcophagus and the intricately detailed Macedonian army battling with Persians. Another admirable art is the Sarcophagus of the Mourners depicting 18 elegant mourning women figures.
Equally gorgeous pieces that shouldn’t be missed are the Sarcophagus of the Satrap, the Lycian Sarcophagus, and the Sidamara Sarcophagus. Some sarcophagus are so grand, they look like temples. Other than the tombs, you’ll also find mosaics, a vast collection of coins, exhibits and antiquities in this museum.
Museum of the Ancient Orient
The first museum you’ll chance upon entering the complex, the Museum of the Ancient Orient will delight you with pre-Islamic artifacts. The stunning highlight here is the blue and yellow glazed brick panels from Babylon’s Ishtar gates. It depicts fascinating lions, bulls and dragons designs. You’ll also find ancient cuneiform tablets, pins and ornaments. Other highlights to check are an 8th century rock relief of a storm God named Tarhunza, an 8th century Love Poem and the Treaty of Kadesh, considered the oldest treaty in the world. It was signed in 1274.
Museum of Islamic Art (Tiled Kiosk Museum)
Mehmet the Conqueror ordered the construction of this oldest Turkish structure in Istanbul back in 1472. A lovely pavilion, its portico contains 14 marble columns. You’ll find several eye-catching and well preserved Seljuk, Anatolian and Ottoman tiles and ceramics that feature the gorgeous Iznik tiles dating centuries. Originally designed as the Sultan’s spot to watch sports and games, it’s now a fantastic sight to behold.
After visiting the three immersive museums, you can take a breather outside. Enjoy the impressive tree-lined beauty and serenity of the surrounding courtyards and well-tended gardens.
Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
36 Turkish Lira per person for the entrance. Children under the age of 8 is free of charge.
Daily: 9am - 7pm