Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Istanbul Archaeological Museum

I will repeat this again - Paul and I don't do museums. We have tried and tried, but we always seem to find ourselves more bored than we thought we would be and rushing through to see the major sites and get out. I don't know if its overwhelming or just that we have a short attention span, but we usually avoid real, true museums on our travels.

Recently, we made our FIRST visit to an Istanbul Museum - the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. I wasn't expecting much. Not just that I don't enjoy museums, but it's Turkey. I expected it to be disorganised and all over the place (a bit similar to our experiences at the National Museum in Cairo). And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

In no way am I a museum convert. I still found myself at the end running through the Troy exhibit just to say I saw it and get out of that museum. Truth be told, we tired out before visiting the third part of the Museum complex, the Museum of the Ancient Orient. However, they had quite a few nice collections and lots of good signage IN ENGLISH that helped contribute to our enjoyment of the Museum.

The highlights if you want to do the "quick" tour like us?

1. Tiled Kiosk - in addition to the beatiful tiled exterior, the inside of the kiosk includes pottery and tiles from many different parts of Turkey's history. Some of the oldest sections come from the Selcuks reign during the 13th century.

The Arabic over the door explains the
building was built by Sultan Mehmet
the conqueror in 1472

2. The Sarcophagi - there are two sarcophagi here who are the best known of the bunch, but honestly, all the tombs are in pretty great condition. The exhibit for these consists of several rooms, including one for the most famous others for certain periods and one that is to given an idea of what the palace around one of the tombs was like.

Alexander sarcophagus - they originally thought it belonged
to Alexander the great due to the scenes of Alexander
battling and hunting on the sides, it was actually the
final resting place of King Abdalonymos of Sidon

Sarcophagus of the Mourning Women - this is the sarcophagus
of King Straton of Sidon. The women depicted on this are the
women of his harem.

3. Dead People - yes, it might sounds morbid, but they had more intact skeletons here than I had ever seen in a museum. I counted 3 during my quick skim of the museum, but this was the best one on display.

4. Istanbul History - I may have forgotten to take a picture, but this exhibit is fun for visitors to Istanbul. It has history and artifacts of many of the major sites, including Aya Sofia, Chora Church and the Galata Tower.

During our visit, the Greek and Roman statue section was closed for renovations, and I have a feeling there may be some gems there too, you'll have to check it out for yourselves!

The museum is located near Topkapi Palace - exit the tram at the Gulhame stop, walk up past the gardens and around the corner to the Archaeological Museum. Like many of the other tourist stops in Sultanahmet the museum is closed on Mondays.

1 comment:

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