Most Visited Museums in Istanbul

This content was last updated on 02.10.2022 15:10

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Being a world city, Istanbul is also an important city of culture and arts. In addition to historically significant museums, Istanbul also has modern art museums where you can see the most unique examples of contemporary art, and exhibitions and conferences are also held throughout the year. We can say that Istanbul is very rich in terms of museums.

Must-See Museums in Istanbul

Istanbul is also home to many museums where you can discover history, art and culture. We have listed the must-see museums in Istanbul for you.

1. Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

The purpose of the Basilica Cistern, which was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 532, was to meet the water needs of the palace and the people living in the region.

The cistern, which was used for a while after Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered Istanbul, met the water needs of Topkapı Palace this time. During the Ottoman period, the facilities where the stagnant water was thought to be not clean were established and the cistern was never used again.

The Basilica Cistern, which is 140 meters long and 70 meters wide, has a water holding capacity of 100 thousand tons. To reach the cistern, which was built on an area of 9,800 square meters, a 52-step staircase is descended. The titles of the 336 columns, most of them cylindrical, have different features. Some reflect the Corinthian style, while others reflect the Doric style.

2. Hagia Irene Museum

Hagia Irene Museum

Hagia Irene, built at the beginning of the 4th century, is known as the largest Byzantine Church that could not be converted into a mosque.

The reason why the church was not turned into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul is shown to be that it remained inside the Sur-ı Sultan, which surrounds Topkapı Palace.

It is said to have been built with the remains of Artemis, Apollo and Aphrodite structures from Roman times. Hagia Irene was severely damaged due to the severe earthquakes that took place in the region in the 700s and 800s.

3. Topkapi Palace Museum

Topkapi Palace Museum

One of the first addresses that come to mind when talking about Istanbul is Topkapı Palace, one of the most important monuments left behind by the Ottoman Empire. With its magnificent architecture, Topkapı Palace deserves to be among the top museums to be seen in Istanbul.

The palace, which was built between 1460 and 1478 at the request of Fatih Sultan Mehmet, is located on the Historical Peninsula between the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. The museum can be visited between 09:00 and 18:00 except Tuesdays.

4. Istanbul Archeology Museum

Istanbul Archeology Museum

The Istanbul Archeology Museum, which is among the largest museums in the world, stands out in terms of the variety of artifacts it holds among the museums of Istanbul.

Apart from the main building, it also hosts the Museum of Ancient Oriental Works and the Tiled Kiosk Museum. You can visit the museum located in Gülhane district between 09:00-17:30 every day of the week.

5. Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

Next on the Istanbul historical museum tour is the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum in Sultanahmet. This museum, which has one of the best carpet collections in the world, exhibits manuscripts, glass objects and rare works of art. The museum is open every day of the week from 09:00 to 17:30.

6. Dolmabahce Palace Museum

Dolmabahce Palace Museum

Dolmabahçe Palace is located between Beşiktaş and Kabataş, on the shores of the Bosphorus, on an area of 250 thousand square meters. The most important feature of the palace, which was built during the Ottoman period, is that it was used as a residence by Atatürk during his visits to Istanbul during the Republican period and the Great Leader Atatürk passed away in this palace on November 10, 1938.

In this sense, Dolmabahçe Palace is located in a special position both because it reveals the palace life in the last period of the Ottoman Empire and because it is the house where Atatürk spent his last days.

7. Istanbul Modern Art Museum

Istanbul Modern Art Museum

When it comes to Istanbul art museums, another of the top places is the Istanbul Modern Art Museum. In fact, nearly 20 years of work lies behind the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, which was opened in 2004 and holds the title of being the first modern art museum in Turkey to be established through private initiatives.

Built on an area of 8 thousand square meters, the museum has hosted thousands of local and foreign guests since its establishment. In addition to exhibitions and galleries, the museum includes a cinema, library, restaurant, free education programs, social project studies and workshops.

8. Private Sakip Sabancı Fine Arts Museum

Sakip Sabancı Fine Arts Museum

Sabancı Museum, located in Emirgan, stands out as an art space of international standards with its rich collection. Apart from the exhibitions, it appeals to a wide audience thanks to the workshops and training programs, conferences and seminars it offers. Sabancı Museum should definitely be added to the European side museum tour. It is open to visitors between 10:00-18:00 every day except Monday.

9. Private Pera Museum

Pera Museum

Pera Museum started to serve in 2005 by preserving the facade of the Bristol Hotel building, designed by Architect Achille Manoussos.

The aim of the museum is to exhibit the collections of "Orientalist Painting", "Anatolian Weights and Measures" and "Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics" belonging to the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation and share them with the public through the effects.

Located in the most vibrant area of the city, the museum operates with a contemporary museum understanding. The Orientalist Painting Collection, which includes more than 300 works, is on display at the Pera Museum.

This collection includes works of 17th and 19th century European orientalists. The most important feature of these orientalists is that they created their works by being influenced by the Ottoman culture.

The museum, which is closed on Mondays, can be visited between

  • 10.00-19.00 on Tuesday - Saturday
  • 10.00-22.00 on Friday
  • 12.00-18.00 on Sunday

10. Private Rahmi M. Koc Transport Museum

Rahmi M. Koc Transport Museum

The Rahmi Koç Museum, opened in 1994 with the support of businessman Rahmi Koç, is the first important museum dedicated to the history of industry, transportation, industry and communication in Turkey. At the Rahmi Koç Museum, you can tour the nostalgic Fenerbahçe ferry with your children, examine the classic cars, and have fun with the interactive experiment sets in the Colorful Mathematics World section.

Rahmi M. Koç Museum in Hasköy offers a unique tour opportunity, especially for families with children, with its nostalgic tools and large Atatürk collection. Antique cars, old planes and trains, miniature houses and much more are exhibited in this museum.

The museum is closed on Mondays.

Museum can be visited between;

  • Tuesday - Friday 10:00-17:30
  • Saturday - Sunday 10:00-18:00

11. Naval Museum

Naval Museum

The Istanbul Maritime Museum, Turkey's largest maritime museum, is one of the museums you can visit with pleasure in Istanbul.

The Naval Museum, which is one of the few museums in the world in terms of the diversity of its collection, is also known as the first military museum established in Turkey.

In the museum, which is spread over a total of 3 floors, royal boats, sailor clothes, manuscripts, ship models, banners, maps, paintings, monograms and crests, galleys, navigational instruments, ship chief figures and weapons are exhibited.

There is also an educational playground for children and a gift shop at the entrance.

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