İstanbul’s answer to the British Museum or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the Archaeology Museum (closed Mondays, admission fee), actually a group of museums housed in lovely buildings beside Gülhane Park in the lee of the Topkapı Palace.

The finest of them is also the oldest, the exquisite Çinili Köşk (Tiled Pavilion), which dates back to the reign of Mehmed the Conqueror and now houses a collection of Turkish ceramics — everything from the finest İznikware to more modern pieces. In 2024 it was undergoing restoration.

The Eski Şark Eserler Müsezi (Museum of the Ancient Orient) exhibits finds from all over the Ottoman Empire.

The finest pieces of all are on display in the imposing Arkeoloji Müsezi (Archaeology Museum), where top prize would have to go to the exquisite Alexander Sarcophagus, a piece dating back to the fourth century B.C. and depicting the exploits of Alexander the Great, which was brought here from the Sidon necropolis (now in Lebanon).

Transport info

You can easily access the Archaeology Museum via the T1 tram stops at Gülhane or Sultanahmet. From Sultanahmet it’s a downhill walk from the outer court of the Topkapı Palace, from Gülhane a short uphill walk via the park.



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