Exploring the Istanbul Archaeology Museums

April 17, 2013 MuseumChick


After discovering some unexpected and colorful street art in the narrow streets of the Eminönü and Sultanahmet area, I decided to visit the Istanbul Archaeology Museums in the late afternoon. Trying to squeeze in their large collection, housed in the three buildings that complete the complex, without being late to meet my husband for dinner, was going to be a challenge. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums is made up of three distinctly different buildings; the Archaeological Museum Main Building, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art in the Tiled Kios with a courtyard and cafe in the center.

These are some of the museums highlights and my personal favorites.

Istanbul Archaeology Museum


The facade of the main building (above) was inspired by the Alexander Sarcophagus (below). It is one of the prominent structures built in the neoclassical style in Istanbul. The Alexander Sarcophagus was found at the Necropolis of Sidon and has now found a home in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum’s main building.


Istanbul Archaeology Museum 17

Istanbul Archaeology Museum 15

Istanbul Archaeology Museum 13


Through the upstairs windows of the main building, I could see the Museum of Islamic Art in the Tiled Kios with the winter sunset highlighting the sky in bright blues and light pinks.


Istanbul Archaeology Museum 16


Istanbul Archaeology Museum 2


Coming through the entrance, the first piece you see is this tile mihrab from the Karamanolu Ibrahim Bey Imaret (public kitchen) built in 1432. It was made using a colorful glazing technique, which was popular in the early Ottoman era.


Istanbul Archeaology Museum 6

Istanbul Archaeology Museum 7

Istanbul Archaeology Museum 7

Istanbul Archaeology Museum 12


This oil painting is of Osman Hamdi Bey standing next to the fountain of youth (titled ”Fountain of Youth” from 1904)  and is placed to the niche next to the actual fountain, housed in the museum. The series of pictures below are of the colorful and gold gilded sides that decorate it.


Istanbul Archaeology Museum 9

Istanbul Archaeology Museum 10

Istanbul Archaeology Museum 11


The Museum of the Ancient Orient houses pre-Islamic artifacts, including tiled pieces from the Gate of Ishtar (below). And since I’m a hopeless romantic, my favorite piece was the terra cotta artifact of “The Oldest Love Poem” from 2029 B.C. (below).


Istanbul Archaeology Museum 18

Istanbul Archaeology Museum 3

Istanbul Archaeology Museum 4


I would have stopped at this modern and relaxing cafe for some Turkish coffee if I wasn’t already late, as usual, to meet my husband.


Istanbul Archaeology Museum 5


©2013 Danee Sarman All rights reserved

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  1. Carly Talley 05.18.2013

    The Tiled Kiosk was commissioned by Sultan Mehmed II in 1472. It is one of the oldest structures in Istanbul featuring Ottoman civil architecture, and was a part of the Topkap? Palace outer gardens. It was used as the Imperial Museum between 1875 and 1891 before the collection moved to the newly constructed main building. It was opened to public in 1953 as a museum of Turkish and Islamic art, and was later incorporated into the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

  2. Suzy 04.21.2013

    I really want to visit Istanbul and Turkey in general just for all of the archeology. That tile mihrab is beautiful!