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Istanbul Archaeological Museum is probably the most underrated museum of the city, while it is also the oldest one. It houses over one million objects, some of which are the master pieces that should be seen during a visit to Istanbul.

Here is my brief post to the travellers:
To me, this museum is one of the symbols of Istanbul with its rich collection, which contains exquisite objects like Alexander Sarcophagus, the Treaty of Kadesh and the oldest love poem that belongs to the Ancient Babylonian Era. The museum is one of the long-established museums of the city which was founded in 1891 by a master Ottoman painter Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910), who is famous for his 1906 painting “The Tortoise Trainer”. Osman Hamdi is also famous for his excavation in 1887 in the royal necropolis at Sidon in Syria, where he unearthed the magnificent group of sarcophagi which are today the pride of the museum. Archaeological museum was built by a famous French-Ottoman architect, Alexander Vallaury. The complex is comprised of three museums – The Museum of the Ancient Orient, dazzlingly beautiful Tiled Pavilion, and the Archaeological Museum. You can reach easily to the complex by walking down the road from Topkapı’s first court or walking up the hill from the main gate of Gülhane Park.

The Museum of the Ancient Orient

The Museum of the Ancient Orient

Located on the left of the entrance, this building is the house of pre-Islamic items from ancient Anatolia, Urartu and Mesopotamia.

 

There are some must-see artefacts that drew my attention:

 

  • A Code of Hamurabi tablet,
  • a statue of Shalmaneser III,
  • the oldest love poem tablet,
  • wall reliefs from the north-west palace at Nimrud,
  • Babylonian Processional Street wall reliefs (lion, sirrush, and auroch reliefs),
  • a stela of Nabonidus,
  • a stela of Sennacherib,
  • the Kadesh treaty tablet,
  • a complete ancient Egyptian grave’s content.
The Archaeology Museum

The Archaeology Museum

This is the largest building in the complex, where you find a large collection of classical statues and astonishing sarcophagi. The sarcophagi are located in the two rooms to the left of the entrance on the ground floor. The Lycian Sarcophagus impressed me a lot which depicts centaurs, sphinxes, griffons and some scenes from Greek mythology. The most famous of the sarcophagi is the spectacular Alexander Sarcophagus, discovered in 1887 by Osman Hamdi Bey. It is called Alexander Sarcophagus, not because it belongs to Alexander, but because the sculptures on it shows Alexander in scenes of hunting and war. The sarcophagus was made for King Abdalonymos of Sidon, who began his reign in 333 B.C. after Alexander defeated the Persians at the battle of Issus. The sarcophagus is in the second room to the left.

 

There is a permanent exhibition in the upstairs named “Istanbul through the Ages”. A part of a giant chain can be seen here which was used by the Byzantines to block access to the Golden Horn to the Ottoman ships during the siege of the city in fifteenth century by Mehmet the Conqueror. There are further pieces discovered during the construction work on the Marmaray Project at Yenikapı. If you are interested in war relics, this is the exhibition for you.

Tiled Pavilion

Tiled Pavilion

This is definitely the most interesting building within the complex. It was built during the time of Mehmet the Conqueror (1432-1481) as a mansion for entertainment, and square in front of it was used for javelin tournaments. Its name comes from the tiles of various kinds that covered the walls, most of which are tile mosaic in blue and turquoise. Tiles also adorns portico.

 

The building is now home to the of Islamic art from the time of Seljuks and Ottomans including rich tile and ceramic collection. All of the artefacts are absolutely worth to see, oldest of which dates back to the 12th century. The place gives an amazing relaxation with its other-worldly atmosphere.

 

I highly recommend you to make time for a visit to this incredible museum

 

İstanbul Archaelogical Museum: Alemdar Cd. Osman Hamdi Bey yokuşu PK:34122 - Fatih/İSTANBUL

 

Visiting Hours

Opened daily from 09:00 am — 17:00 pm

Admission Fee 30 TL

Children under the age of 5 its free entry.  

 

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