Archaeological Museum of Istanbul

İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzesi

We advise to sel ect a day and to spend all of it to visit and experience the uniqueness of one of the biggest museums of the world that displays more than a million exhibits and where one can admire the beautiful legacy of the great civilizations of the past. The Archaeology Museums of Istanbul consist of three museums: Archaeological Museum (in the main building), Museum of the Ancient Orient, Museum of Islamic Art (in the Tiled Kiosk).

The Ottoman sultan Abdülaziz was so impressed by the archaeological museums in Europe that he ordered a similar museum to be built in Istanbul. The main building of the museum elaborated in Neoclassic style was designed by architect Alexander Vallaury. The opening ceremony took place in 1891, the famous Turkish archaeologist and painter Osman Hamdi Bey was appointed the director of the imperial museum. Osman Hamdi made an immense contribution to the development of archaeological knowledge – his numerous findings and research enriched the museum collection.

The royal sarcophagi found in the Necropolis of Sidon (Lebanon) are among the museum’s most famous pieces of art. However, the greatest treasure of the museum is the ornate Alexander Sarcophagus, once believed to be prepared for Alexander the Great, which was found by a Hamdi Bey expedition and which is dated to 4th century BC. The overwhelming majority of researchers thing the sarcophagus was not made for Alexander the Great – it received its name due to the depiction of a battle between the armies of Alexander and the Persian forces led by Abdalonymus, the king of Sidon (some scientists believe Abdalonymus was the person buried in the sarcophagus). Another famous sarcophagus retrieved from the Necropolis of Sidon is the sarcophagus of the Crying Women. 18 crying women are depicted on its sides, they are believed to be the 18 wives of a king of Sidon, Straton. Another hypothesis implies these are just 18 stages of a woman in grief. The museum also displays the statue of a lion from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; fragments of statues from the Temple of Zeus found at Bergama, many artefacts from Troy and numerous ancient Greek statues from the period of Late Antiquity (4th century AD). A part of the Archaeology Museum since 1981, the Tiled Kiosk, hosts the Museum of Islamic Art where the county’s best collection of tiles and ceramics (11th-20th centuries) is on display.

Address: Alemdar Cad. Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Sk.
Opening hours: daily 9 am – 5 pm
How to reach: Gülhane (TR1)
Coordinates: 41.011605, 28.981482