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The Hagia Sophia Museum


The Hagia Sophia which is considered as a unique monument in world architecture with it’s magnificence and functionality, has inspired the idea of a east west synthesis study in the construction of Ottoman mosques. It is one of the most important monuments of world architectual history that has remained intact until the present day. Therefore, its history, arcitecture, mosaics and the structures of the Turkish Era have additionally attracted all humanity for centuries

Hagia Sophia has been a church for 916 years, mosque for 481 years. Since 1935 it has been carrying on its historical role as a museum.

According to Byzantine historians (Theophanes, Nikephoros, Grammarian Leon), the first building of Hagia Sophia was established during the reign of Constantius I (324 – 337 AD). It was a basilica with a wooden roof, and it was burned down during a revolt. Nothing of the first structure remains to the present day.

During the reign of emperor Theodosius Hagia Sophia was built for the second time and opened to the public in 415 AD. The basilica was again burned down during the Nika Revolt in 532 AD. Some foundlings of this building were discovered during excavations in 1936. There were stairs indicating the entrance of the building, columns, capitals and other fragments of the building.

Emperor Justinian (527 – 565 AD) wanted to build a church bigger than two previous ones. The existing new building of Hagia Sophia, was built by two famous architects of that era – Isidoros from Miletos and Anthemios of Tralles. Many columns, capitals, marble and colourful stone were brought to Istanbul from various ancient cities in Anatolia and used in construction works of Hagia Sophia.

The works were commenced on December 23, 532 AD and completed on December 27, 537. The new building consisted of a large central nave and two side aisles, separated by columns, abscissa, inner and outer narthex. The size of the inner space of basilica is 100 X 70m and it is covered by the magnificent dome (diameter 30. 31 m), supported by the four large piers, 55 m high. Semi domes were attached to the direction of the absica and the dome entrance, and in a addition to this two small domes each were attached to the semi domes which forms the cover system and also helps lighten the pressure on the main dome. The basilica concept was used in this plan. The main areas lenghthway consists of three naves. Also, the elements that divide the naves from eachother are 4 large, which carry the heavy dome. These piers are attached with domes to the side walls In between them are posts. To reach the galeries which are located on top of the naves, you pass through a curvy tunnel.

Besides the unique architecture of the building, the mosaics are also important. The oldest mosaics are gold gilded with geometrical and floral designs. Figural mosaics on the Emperor door (mosaic depicts Emperor Leon VI. prostrating before Christ Pantocrator )on abscissa (composition of Virgin Marry) on the exit door (composition of the enthroned Virgin and Child Christ and Constantine who presents a model of the Istanbul and Justinian who presents a model of theIstanbul). Deisis composition is the most importent with its extraordinary work besides the composition of Empire Constanie Monomakhos and hes wife zoe and Empire Ionannes Komnenos II. with hes wife standing near Jesus Christ on pandactor .

After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, Turkish period started, and several repairs and additions were made in Hagia Sophia. The art works surrounding the mihrab is decorated with the best samples of Turkish pottery and calligraphy. The sure is taken from the Koran inscribed on rounded plates of 7. 50 m diameter by Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi, a famous Ottoman calligrapher. The names of Allah, Muhammed, Ömer, Osman, Ali, Hasan, Ebu Bekir and Hüseyin are inscribed there. On the sidewalls of mihrab there are plates written and granted by Ottoman sultans.

Tombs of Sultan Selim II, Sultan Mehmet III, Sultan Murat III, fountain of Sultan Mahmut I, primary school, soup kitchen, library, Sultan Abdülmecit's meeting space, and the mosque timekeeper’house are the Turkish era works in the territory of Hagia Sophia. The tombs with their interior design, pottery, and architecture are excellent examples of Ottoman tradition.


Caria Museum


Kariye is located at Edirnekapı section of İstanbul. The meaningof Kariye (Chora) was "outside of the city, rural" in old Greek. The existence of a chapel outside the city walls in very old is mentioned in some sources. Justinianus built the first Khora Church on the site of this chapel. The building which managed to survive until the times of the Commenos with various additions and repairs, gained importance when the Imperial Palace Blakhernia near the city walls was expanded. At the end of 11th century Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Emperor Alexi I had it rebuild. The church has a kiborion shaped space dome carried by four arches. During the Latin occupation of 1204 – 1261, both the monastry and the church were extremely ruined. During the reign of Andronikos (1282 – 1326), one of the prominent names of the day, the writer, poet, and the minister of treasury Theodore Methocite had the monastry and the church repaired towards 1313, and had an annex to the north of the building, an outer narthex to the west and a chapel (Parekklesion) to the south. These new additions were decorated with frescoes and mosaics. Parekklesion, which is a long single naved chapel going along the southern facade, is built above a basement floor. It is partially covered with a dome and vaults cover the remaining sections. It has a single abscissa. The outer narthex which runs along the full western facade forms the present façade. The northern wing is only an insignificant corridor. The central dome has a high drum. It is a Turkish period restoration. Outer façades are given plasticity and movement with round arches, half braces, niches, and rows of stone and brick. The eastern façade is finished with abscissa extending to the exterior and with pastophorion cells. The middle abscissa is supported with a half arched brace.

The building served as a church after the conquest of Istanbul. It was converted into a mosque in 1511 by the Visier Grand Hadim Ali Pahsa. Later added a school and a kitchen next to it. After the conversion, the mosaics and frescoes were covered, sometimes by wooden blinds and sometimes by whitewashing over them. All the mosaics and frescoes were uncovered with the work carried out by the research during 1948 – 1958.

Chora mosaics and frescoes are the most beautiful examples of the last period of Byzantine art (14th century). The concept of depth, recognition of the placticity and movement of the figures and the elongation in the figures are the characteristic of this style. Scenes from life of Jesus are given on the outer narthex while the inner narthex has scenes from the life of Madonna. On the portal of the door joining the outer to the inner narthex, there is Christ the "Pantocrator". On the left the scenes depict the birth of Jesus, population cencus being carried out under the supervision of Governor Cyrinus, the angel telling Joseph to leave taking Mary with him, the multiplication of loaves of bread, water turning to wine and on the right side scenes such as messanger kings informing about the birth of Christ, healing of the stroke victims and the massacre of children. The most beautiful mosaic on the inside is Deisis. There is Jesus in the center with Mary on the left, below Mary, Isaac Commenus and a nun on the right of Jesus. This woman is the daughter of the Mikhael Palaiologos VIII. She was married to the Mongolian Prince Abaka Khan and following her husband's death returned to İstanbul and became nun. In this section, under the dome there is Jesus and his ancestors are shown in the segments. On the portal of the church proper, there is Christ in the middle and on the left Theodoros Metochites who has restored the church and adorned it with the mosaics presenting.

The life story of Mary, which is not included in the Bible is taken from subjects based on the Apostles. At the inner narthex the scenes about Mary can be followed depicting her birth, her first steps, Gabriel telling her that she shall have a child, Mary buying wool for the tebernacle and others. Mosaic above the inner portal of the entrance to the main church depicts the death of the Virgin (coimessis scene), Madonna bearing the child Jesus and a Saint. Parekklesion completely decorated with frescoes. The Anastasia (rebirth) scene seen on the abscissa is a masterpiece. The last judgement above it is shown here in full. It is known that the niche on the right and left sides of the Parekklesion are graves. On the dome of the Parekklesion there is Mary and the child Jesus and 12 angels in the segments.

The Caria museum is located in a region of İstanbul, that is consists of wooden houses. After visiting the museum, you can find a quiet garden in which you can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, which is surrounded by wooden houses away from the city’s busy atmosphere.


St. Irene


St. Irene, that is shaped as closed Greek cross is near to Topkapı Palace. There have not been many changes in the building, as the church was not transformed into a mosque after conquest of Istanbul in 1453. It was used as a booty and weapon warehouse for a long time. Son-in-law Ahmed Fethi Pasha, one of Field Marshal of Tophane, exhibited his works here in 1846. St. Irene and renamed as Müze-i Hümayun (Empire Museum) in 1869. The works exhibited here was moved to Çinili Köşk (Pavilion with painted tiles) in 1875, as the exhibition areas were insufficient. St. Irene was used as a Military Museum since 1908. The building, which was empty for a while, was restored and made a unit of Directorate of St. Sophia Museum.


Archelogy Museums of Istanbul


The Directorate of Istanbul Archeology Museums that is dependent on the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Turkey is on the Osman Hamdi Bey Ascent that opens to the Topkapı Palace Museum from the right of the Gülhane Park Entry which is in the Sultanahmet district.

Istanbul Archeology Museums consist of three museums. Those are Archeology Museum, Old Eastern Works Museum, and Enameled Kiosk Museum.

Istanbul Archeology Museums, which were established as Müze-i Humayun (Empire Museum) by the famous artist and museum director Osman Hamdi Bey at the end of the 19th century, were opened to public on June 13, 1891. Besides its importance as the “first Turkish museum”, it has an importance and specialty being one of the museum buildings that are constructed as a Museum in the World. Today, it still protects its outstanding place in the World’s biggest museums with its works more than a million belonging to various cultures

In the museum collections, there are rich and very important works of art belonging to various civilizations from the regions from Balkans to Africa, from Anatolia and Mesopotamia to Arab Peninsula and Afghanistan that were in the borders of the Ottoman Empire.

I) Main Building (Old Building)


Osman Hamdi Bey started its construction in 1881 and with the additions in 1902 and 1908 it gained its latest form. Its architect is Alexander Vallaury. The outer face of the building was made by inspiring from the Iskender Tomb and Crying Women tombs. It is a beautiful example of a neoclassical designed building in Istanbul.
On the upper floor of the two-flat building there are small stone works, pots and pans, small terracotta statues, the Treasure Department and approximately 800. 000 Ottoman coins, seals, decorations, medals and Non-Muslim and Muslim Coin Cabinets, in which coin moulds were kept, and a Library with approximately 70. 000 books.

On the bottom floor saloons of the building, famous tombs are displayed such as İskender Tomb, Crying Women Tomb, Satrap Tomb, Lykia Tomb, Tabnit Tomb that are in the Sayda king graveyard.

On the bottom floor, besides the display of tombs, there is Old Age Statuary display in which statues and relieves from important antic cities and regions take place. In this display, the development of the art of statuary from Archaic Period to the Byzantium Period is displayed in chronological order with outstanding examples.

II) Additional Building (New Building)


The additional building attached to the southeast of the main building is of 6 stories. There are depots in the two stories under the ground floor.

The four stories of the building are arranged as exhibition saloons. There is “Istanbul for Ages” on the first floor of the building, “Anatolia and Troia for Ages” on the second floor and “Sursrounding Cultures of Anatolia: Cyprus, Syria-Palestine” on the top floor. There is Infant Museum and architectural works display on the first floor of the additional building. The Thrakia-Bithynia and Byzantium display saloon, which opened in August 1998, can be visited on the floor under the first floor with the name of “Surrounding Cultures of Istanbul”.

The museum has received the European Council Museum Award in 1991, which is its 100th establishment anniversary, with the new arrangement made in the lower floor saloons and the Additional Building display.


The Museum of Ancient Eastern Works


The building, which was made by Osman Hamdi bey in 1883 as Sanayi-i Nefise (Fine Arts School), was organized as a museum with the works made between 1917–1919 and 1932–1935. The building that was closed to visitors in 1963, reopened to visitors in 1974 with a new display by changing the interior.
On the upper floor of the two-flat building, Anatolian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Arabic works of art are displayed. Statue of Naramsin, the king of Akad, the Kadeş Agreement and Zincirli statue are the unique works of art in the museum. Moreover, in this museum there is a “Tablet Archive” in which 75. 000 documents with cuneiform writings are kept.


The Enameled Kiosk Museum


The kiosk that has been made by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1472 is one of the oldest examples of Ottoman civil architecture in Istanbul. It has been used as Müze-i Hümayun (Empire Museum) between 1875 and 1891. It was opened to public in 1953 with the name of Fatih Museum where Turkish and Islamic works of art were displayed and it was transferred to Istanbul Archeology Museums due to its site.

The entrance façade of the kiosk is single-flat and the back façade is of two-stories. There is a marble porch of 14 columns in the entrance. The entrance exedra is decorated with mosaic enamels. Various chinaware and ceramics from the Seljuk and Ottoman period are displayed in the Kiosk that forms from 6 rooms and a middle saloon. There are approximately 2000 works of art in the museum and its depots.


The Military Museum


The magnificent campaign tents that were used by the Ottoman army, is displayed in the Military Museum. Ottoman weapons and military equipment are also displayed. Janissary band of musicians wearing janissary costumes ”Mehter Team”demonstrate shows accompanied my Ottoman military music between 3 PM and 4 PM.


The Ataturk Museum


The house which Atataturk lived in, is located in Shishli, has been turned into a museum in his memory. Personel belongings of the “GREAT LEADER” are displayed in this museum.


The Great Palace Mosaic Museum


Great Palace Mosaic Museum is located inside a century bazaar complex known as Arasta in the south of Sultanahmet Mosque. The museum was built in a way to accommodate the mosaics which is partially intact in the northeastern part of the courtyard of the Byzanthine Empire’s big palace. Mosaic Museum is remained from Byzanthine Empire’s Big Palace. 5th and 6th centuries’ rare and precious mosaics pavements are being saved here.

While Grand Palace Mosaics, dating back to 450–550 A. D. were masterfully woven, no religious themes can be seen in the mosaics. The themes are from daily life and nature, and there are a scented depicting gryphon eating a lizard, a fight of an elephant and a lion, a breeding of a mare, children feeding geese, a man milking a goat, a child feeding his donkey, a young girl carrying a jug, bears eating apples and a fight between a hunter and a tiger.

Great Palace Mosaics Museum opened in 1953 as part of the Istanbul Archeological Museums and became a part of St. Sophia Museum in 1979.

A restoration and conservation of the mosaics started with a project prepared in the framework of a protocol agreement made between Ministry of Culture General Directorate of Monuments and Museums and Austria Academy of Sciences in 1982. These restorational works completed in 1997.


The Naval Museum


Besides the interesting historical naval pieces, also many other interesting pieces, such as; boats that sultan’s used while passing the strait and a map of America made in the Ottoman period in the early 16th century are being dispalyed in the museum.


The Museum of Classical Ottoman (Divan) Literature (Galata Mevlevi Lodge)


The Galata Mevlevi Lodge (mevlevihane) or as it is also known the Kulekapı Mevlevi Lodge has been opened to public as a museum in 1975, is one of the institutions which reflect the culture of the era in the best possible way. The Mevlevi Lodges which for centuries combined scholarship with music, had a great influence on the Turkish culture. A great number of those people who came together in a Mevlevi Lodge environment were educated in various areas of fine arts, their names were remembered for a long time as far as science, and scholarship was concerned. The Mevlevi Lodge which is located at the top of the steep street going down to Yüksekkaldırım is the oldest Mevlevi Lodge of Istanbul. Built in 1491, on the hunting grounds of Iskender Pasha who was a governor - general during the times of Sultan Bayezid II. Its first master was Mehmet Mehmed Sema-i Çelebi. The building got caught in a fire during the reign of Sultan Mustafa III. (1766) but was replaced by the existing Mevlevi Lodge by the same Sultan. In later years, the building underwent repairs during the reigns of Sultans Selim III, Mahmud II, and Abdulmecid. The institution which carried out its activities until 1925 restored once more between the years 1967 – 1972. The Mevlevi Lodge which was built as a complex contained rooms and spaces for pray chanting, dervish cells, the quarters of the master (şeyh), the section for the female members, library, fountain for the public, clock room, kitchen, mausoleums and an graveyard.

Semahane (Ritual Prayer Hall):

Semahane is used as a museum. On the entarence door of this wood structured section there is the restoration statement of Sultan Abdülmecid dated 1853. The building has an octagonal plan and a good sample of the baroque style of the 18th century. In this section Turkish musical instruments and works related to the Mevlevi culture are exhibited. In the upper section which is divided with wooden grills, the poems (divan) of the Classical Ottoman poets and manuscripts belonging to Şeyh Galib, İsmail Ankaravi, Esrar and Fasih Dedes and the poetess Leyla Hanım who were trained and educated at the Mevlevi Lodge are kept in chronological order. The quarters of the master (şeyh) and the special praying area for the Sultan are upstairs.

The Dervish Cells:

It is constructed with stone and consists of rooms in a row.

The Sheyh Galib Mausoleum;

It was built by Halet Said Efendi at the beginning of the 19th century. It has a square plan. Mehmed Ruhi, Hüseyin, İsa Selim, Şarih-, İsmail Ankaravi who first annotated the Mesnevi and Şeyh Galib Efendi are buried here.
The Halet Said Efendi Mausoleum;

It was built at the same time as the other mausoleum. Has a square plan. Inside, Şeyh Kudretullah, Ataullah Efendies, Halet Said Efendi, and Emine Esma Hanım who is the wife of Ubeydullah Efendi are burried.
The Fountain and the Clock Room;

they are located to the right of the entrance. The masonary structure was built in early 19th century.

Library; It was built by Halet Said Efendi. It is on the top floor of the special prayer place and contains 3455 volumes.

The Treasury (Graveyard):

Those who functioned as masters (şeyh) at the Mevlevi Lodge, their spouses, the "kudum" and "ney" playing musicians and poets who had "divans" (volume of collected poems) are burried here. The graves of Humbaracı Ahmed Pasha, İbrahim Müteeferrika who set up the first printing press in Turkey, the composer Vardakosta Seyyid Ahmet Aga, Nayi Osman Dede, and the family members of Tepedelenli Ali Pasha are also here. The tomb stones are significant for their inscriptions and decorations.

Visitors can see Semah ceremonies, on the second and the third Sunday of every month.


The Istanbul Museum of Fine Arts


The best examples of Turkish paintings and sculptures that started to be made in the late 19th century and continued to the present, are being displayed in the museum in the Beshiktash district.


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The Orhan Kemal Museum


The house which is addressed: Akarasu street no/32 Cihangir 80060 has been converted into a museum in the name of Orhan Kemal, who illuminated our nearby literature. It is known as The Orhan Kemal Culture and Art Coordination and is located in İstanbul. Here Orhan Kemal’s photographs, first edition books, books that were published in foreign languages, his stud, his belongings, and his clothes are being displayed.


Rahmi Koch Museum


The Rahmi Koch Museum that displays industrial improvements is situated on the suburb of Haskoy, on the shore of Halich (Golden Horn). It was previously called Lengerhane; it is a mueum of a place which iron and steel were being worked on during the Ottoman Era.


The Sadberk Hanım Museum


The two wooden villa’s, which belong to the 19th century, are located in Buyukdere’s slum quarter, upwards the bosphorus, are filled by Sadberk Hanım Museum collections. In this special museum, firstly the art of Turkish ornaments pieces were being displayed. Later on the museum enlarged after the addition of the new archeologic collection.


The City Museum


In The City Musum which is located in the Garden of Yıldız Palace, documents of İstanbul’s history since the conquest of Istanbul are being preserved. The Museum of Theatre and Stage Costumes, which displays very rich sceneries, settings and elegant costumes, is also located in the Yıldız Palace’s garden.


The Museum of Turkish Carpets


The museum is in the view of the street of İbrahim Pasha Palace. Beautiful antique carpets and kilims, that were collected from various regions of Turkey are being displayed here.


The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts


Turkish and Islamic art works are being displayed in this museum. The structure was constructed by Ibrahim Pahsa grand vizier of Suleyman I. (Suleiman the Magnificent) as a residence. It’s was the biggest private residence in the Ottoman Empire era. Today it serves as a museum that displays elegance ceramic collections, miniatures, examples of lettering art and textile. Also, besides ancient carpets, carved wooden work pieces are being displayed.


The Istanbul Museum of Modern Arts


This museum which opened at the end of the year 2004, responds to the necessity of modern art museums in Istanbul, the “World City”. By using its potentials, oilpaintings to digital works, photographs to sculptures and all different types of art are brought together to be displayed. Beyond being an art center on the shore of the bosphorus, it also serves as a social living facility with its cafe, restaurant, cinema, and stores. Also library and facilities that provide the children and the youth with educational resources have increased the importance of the museums in Istanbul.


The Pera Museum


The old Bristol Hotel building, located in Beyoglu, Tarlabashi was arranged as a museum in june 2005 by the foundation of Suna and Inan Kırach. The museum besides it displays a rich collection of Weights and mesaurings used in Anatolia, The Ceramics and Tiles of Kütahya and Portraits from an Empire. ”The Turtle Trainer” of Osman Hamdi Bey is also in museum collection. It also draws attraction with organized exhibitions.


The Sabanci Museum


This museum which is arranged in the "Equestrian Villa” is located on Emirgan grove on the Europian side of the Bosphorus. A very rich collection of the Sabanci family is being displayed here. The collection of calligraphy consisting of nearly 400 pieces offers a comprehensive view of Ottoman calligraphic art over a period of 500 years. Sabancı Museum's painting collection extends from the beginning of the 19th century up to the present day. The collection spans the Ottoman as well as the Republican epoch. There are works of artists such as Osman Hamdi, Nazmi Ziya, İbrahim Çallı, Fikret Mualla, and paintings of European artists who either chose privately to live and work in the Empire or were designated painters of the Ottoman court such as Fausto Zonaro and Ivan Ayvazovski.

Sabancı Museum's collection of precious manuscripts and extensive collection of 19th and 20th century paintings are being displayed on wide exhibition center today. The museum also hosts national and foreign exhibitions.

Sakıp Sabancı Museum is part of Sabancı University, and therefore also functions as an educational institution. In this respect, educational programmes at various levels are held in the museum, and at weekends musical events take place here. Museum website gives online coverage of both permanent and temporary exhibitions and other museum events. The museum is designed to facilitate visits by the disabled.