Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia)
Close to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable structure with a patchwork history. It was originally built as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica in the 5th century AD. It was taken over by the Ottomans upon their capture of Istanbul (then called Constantinople) in 1453 and converted into a mosque. Finally, it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey in 1935. The museum now contains holy relics and extraordinary examples of iconography. Definitely a must see for anyone remotely interested in history.
Address: Alemdar Caddesi, Sultanahmet
Phone: (0212) 522 17 50 – 522 09 89
Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00am – 4:30pm; Monday, closed
Büyük Saray Mozaikleri Müzesi (The Great Palace Mosaic Museum)
This museum is situated just off Sultanahmet Square and houses the mosaics uncovered from the remains of the Great Palace of Constantinople, which was redone during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I in around 550. The museum is situated near the site itself, and the mosaics, which formed the peristyle courtyard, are reproduced in the form that they would have appeared in the courtyard.
Address: Arasta Çarşısı, Sultanahmet
Phone: (0212) 518 12 05
Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00am – 4:30pm; Monday, closed
Pera Müzesi (The Pera Museum)
Founded in 2005 by the Suna and Inan Kıraç Foundation, the museum is housed in the former Bristol Hotel, which was constructed in 1893. The museum has three permanent collections: Orientalist Painting, Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics, and Anatolian Weights and Measures, although most visitors come for the excellent temporary exhibitions, which have included Botero and Kahlo-Diego in the past. The Orientalist Painting exhibition, which features Osman Hamdi’s “The Tortoise Trainer”, is the most famous permanent exhibition.
Address: Meşrutiyet Caddesi No.65, Tepebaşı
Phone: (0212) 334 99 00
Open: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00am – 7:00pm; Sunday, 12:00pm – 6:00pm; Monday, closed
*The museum is closed on New Year’s Day and the first days of Ramadan (Ramazan Bayramı) and Sacrifice Feast (Kurban Bayramı) holidays.
Arkeoloji Müzesi (The Archeological Museum)
Located near the Topkapı Palace, on what used to be the grounds of the outer parks of the palace,The Archeological Museum was founded in 1891.The museum includes sculptures from the Ancient Age, artifacts from various ages that were excavated in Istanbul, and much more. One of the most famous pieces of the museum is a sarcophagus that is believed to have been prepared for Alexander the Great.
Address: Istanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri Alemdar Cad. Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Sk, Sultanahmet
Phone: (0212) 520 77 40 - 41
Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00am – 5:00pm; Monday, closed
*Hours of Ticket Sale: 9:00am – 4:00pm
Istanbul Modern Sanat Müzesi (Istanbul Museum of Modern Art)
Founded in 2004 in a converted warehouse in Tophane by the Bosphorus, the museum is the first of its kind in Istanbul, and mainly features the works of up-and-coming Turkish artists. It has a permanent exhibition and a restaurant on the top floor, and several temporary exhibitions housed on the ground floor. In the past, the temporary exhibitions have included solo and group exhibitions (for example, “Armenian Architects of Istanbul”) as well as conceptually-themed exhibitions.
Address: Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. Liman Işletmeleri Sahası Antrepo No:4, Karaköy
Phone: (0212) 334 73 00
Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 10.00am – 6.00pm; Thursday, 10.00am – 8.00pm; Monday, closed
*The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day and on the first day of religious holidays.
Türk ve Islam Eserleri Müzesi (Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum)
Built in 1524, the museum is housed in the former palace of Ibrahim Paşa, the grand vizier to Süleyman the Magnificent. The museum exhibits various examples of Islamic calligraphy, tiles and rugs, as well as ethnographic displays, including recreated rooms of Turkic groups and displays of nomadic artifacts.
Address: At Meydanı No. 46, Sultanahmet Kızılay Meydanı Parkı, Küçük Piyale MhKızılay Meydanı Parkı, Küçük Piyale Mh
Phone: (0212) 518 18 05
Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 9:30am – 4:30pm; Monday, closed
Sabancı Üniversitesi Sakıp Sabancı Müzesi (The Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum)
This world famous museum, housed in an old Ottoman mansion, used to be the private summer house of the Sabancı family until it was converted into a museum in 2002. It is most famous for its temporary exhibitions, which included the works of Picasso, Dali, and Rubin. The permanent exhibitions include examples of Islamic art, especially calligraphic, and old state and religious documents from the Ottoman Empire, as well as porcelain, furniture, and artworks from further afield.
Address: Sakıp Sabancı Cad. No: 42, Emirgan
Phone: (0212) 277 22 00
Open: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10:00am – 06:00pm; Wednesday, 10:00am – 8:00pm; Monday, closed.
*The last tickets are sold 30 minutes prior to the museum’s closing time.
**The museum is closed on New Year’s Day and the first days of Ramadan (Ramazan Bayramı) and Sacrifice Feast (Kurban Bayramı) holidays.
Kariye Müzesi (The Chora Museum)
The Chora Museum is rather like the Hagia Sophia: the museum was built as a Byzantine church in the 6th century and was later converted to a mosque by the Ottomans in the 16th century before being converted to a museum by the Republic of Turkey in the 1940s. It is considered one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture, and contains many impressive mosaics and frescoes from all periods of its chequered history.
Address: Kariye Camii Sokak No. 29, Edirnekapı
Phone: (0212) 631 92 41; (0212) 522 09 89
Open: Thursday – Tuesday, 9:00am – 4:30pm; Wednesday, closed
Rezan Has Müzesi (Rezan Has Museum)
Rezan Has Museum is part of the Kadir Has University, which was converted from an old tobacco factory. The main attractions of the museum are a Byzantine cistern, a rare structure that is worth a visit, and the ruins of an Ottoman-era hamam (Turkish bath), both contained on the museum’s site. Temporary exhibitions constantly come and go, keeping the focus fresh and allowing for more variety. Past exhibitions have included works of painting, ceramics, and photography (to name a few).
Address: Kadir Has Üniversitesi, Cibali
Phone: (0212) 533 65 32
Open: Monday – Sunday, 9:00am – 6:00pm
*The museum is closed on New Year’s Day and public holidays.
Sadberk Hanım Müzesi (Sadberk Hanım Museum)
Founded in 1980 by the Koç family, Sadberk Hanım Museum is Turkey’s first private museum. Initially, the museum was housed in a 19th-century yalı (Turkish-style waterfront mansion), but was later expanded and now includes the 20th-century yalı next door. The museum showcases over 18,000 pieces including archeological remains from the Byzantine era, Islamic works from the Ottoman era, rare collections of ceramics, silks, and artworks from Central and Far East Asia. It is an overlooked museum but definitely worth a visit, particularly as it is constantly being updated by the family purchases from auctions across the world.
Address: Büyükdere Piyasa Cad. No: 27- 29, Sarıyer
Phone: (0212) 242 38 13 -14
Open: Monday – Tuesday, 10:00am – 5:00pm; Thursday – Sunday, 10:00am – 5:00pm; Wednesday, closed
*The museum is closed on New Year’s Day and the first day of religious holidays.