History Carved in Stone at Istanbul Archaeology Museums, Turkey

History Carved in Stone at Istanbul Archaeology Museums, Turkey

The sarcophagi never failed to amaze me. We visited four archaeology museums in Turkey and the sarcophagi always blew me away. Remarkably preserved and covered on all sides with the most intricate carvings, including the lid, they’re extraordinary works of art.

The Istanbul Archaeology Museums houses many interesting pieces from the Topkapi collection but these sarcophagi, for me, are the highlights. You shouldn’t miss them.

Entrance to the complex. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums is comprised of three museums — The Museum of the Ancient Orient, the Tiled Pavilion, and the Archaeological Museum. Entrance is included in the 5-day Istanbul Museum Pass but if you don’t have one, then admission is 15TL. A nominal fee I think considering you get access to three museums.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Museum of the Ancient Orient

Housing a collection of pre-Islamic items collected by the Ottoman Empire, this is the first museum you’ll see upon entering the complex.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Egyptian sarcophagus
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

The most striking pieces in this building, you’ll find a few of these glazed-brick panels that once lined the processional street and Ishtar gate of ancient Babylon.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Some of the world’s oldest books — ancient cuneiform tablets dating back to 2300 BC.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Pins and ornaments
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Tiled Pavilion

One of the oldest Turkish secular buildings in Istanbul, the Tiled Pavilion (or Tiled Kiosk) was constructed in 1472 by Mehmet the Conqueror.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Tiles adorning the portico
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Home to the Museum of Islamic Art, on display at the Tiled Pavilion are Seljuk, Anatolian, and Ottoman tiles and ceramics.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

The oldest pieces on display here date back to the end of the 12th century.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Archaeological Museum

The biggest of the three, the Archaeological Museum houses a large collection of classical statues and spectacular sarcophagi.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Some of them were massive. The more important the deceased, the more grand and elaborate the sarcophagus.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Remarkably detailed, I don’t know much about these sarcophagi but I presume each one depicted the deceased’s life or occupation to some degree. With enough time and imagination, looking at them was like reading storybooks carved in stone.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Statues and busts
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Columns
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

The upper floors contain exhibits of artifacts from different periods and regions.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

The exhibits were interesting enough but the building itself felt pretty dated. Some parts were closed for renovation so the museum may be undergoing a facelift.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Courtyard

Outside is a tree-lined courtyard with lots of columns and statues. Recognize the Medusa head? It’s similar to the pair at the Basilica Cistern.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

On a nice day, this is a great place to just sit and while away the time. Ren was all museum-ed out so she waited for me at the museum cafe which is at the other end of the courtyard.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Turkey

Depending on your level of interest, you can spend as little as an hour or the entire afternoon here. The exhibits are interesting but it can get a little tiring going through the entire complex. Like Ren, I was pretty museum-ed out after the first two buildings. If you’re pressed for time or don’t want to go through every exhibit, then the sarcophagi in the Archaeological Museum is a great place to start.

Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Istanbul, Turkey

Alemdar Cad. Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Sk, 34122, Sultanahmet / Fatih, İstanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 212 520 7740 (to 42)
Fax: +90 212 527 4300
Website: istanbularkeoloji.gov.tr
Facebook: İSTANBUL-ARKEOLOJİ-MÜZELERİ-İSTANBUL-ARCHAEOLOGICAL-MUSEUMS
Email: info@istanbularkeoloji.gov.tr
Operating Hours: Tue-Sun, 9AM-5PM (Winter) / 9AM-7PM (Summer), closed Mon
Entrance: 15TL
Included in 5-day Istanbul Museum Pass: Yes

HOW TO GET THERE:
The museum complex is just a short walk from Topkapi Palace. You’ll see the entrance to your right when walking towards Ayasofya from the Palace.

For more Istanbul travel tips, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Istanbul, Turkey

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Istanbul, Turkey

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.  He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.  Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


There is 1 comment for this article
  1. JB Macatulad at 7:40 pm

    Hi Farhan, we were there in November of last year. I understand the apprehension but I would still go. Turkey is an amazing country. The chances of you being at the exact spot at exactly the wrong time are pretty slim. The way I see it, if it’s your time to go then it’s your time to go. There’s little you can do about it anyway. 🙂

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