As a team that likes to explore and looks for new experiences every day, we love visiting museums with different concepts and cultures as much as we love discovering new places. If you’re a museum lover like us and make a list of the museums to see when taking a trip to another country, here are 10 great museums to visit in Türkiye.
1. Zeugma Mosaic Museum, Gaziantep
This is a unique museum that fascinates one with its mosaic works. In particular, while looking at the “Gypsy Girl” mosaic, known as the Mona Lisa of the mosaics, you’ll be amazed with this work and the background music you’ll listen to in front of the mosaic.
What a unique experience to witness some of the highest artworks, dating back to 2000 years, and to observe the cultural heritage of another country while walking around the works in this museum! We believe that the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in Gaziantep is a place to visit not only by archeologists and historians but anyone interested in the past.
2. Odunpazarı Modern Museum, Eskişehir
The second one on our list is the Odunpazarı Modern Museum, also known as OMM, located in Eskişehir. OMM is a modern art museum located among the historical Odunpazarı houses of Eskişehir. Opened by collector Erol Tabanca in 2019, the museum was listed among the top 25 museums of the last 100 years by ARTnews.
The museum not only attracts one with the modern artworks, but it’s also a very interesting building in terms of its exterior and interior architecture. Besides being an exhibition area the place hosts various events, workshops and a cafe of healthy foods. If you visit OMM, we recommend you to see the historical Odunpazarı houses and other small museums located in the back streets of OMM.
3. İstanbul Archeology Museum, İstanbul
Next up is İstanbul Archeology Museum. It has been one of the most influential museums in the development of museology in Türkiye. The museum opened on June 13th, 1891 by the famous painter, archeologist, and museum curator Osman Hamdi.
İstanbul Archeology Museum is full of artifacts reflecting the Mesopotamian culture and has a great atmosphere. Thousands of artifacts belonging to dozens of different cultures are exhibited in the museum. You can even find the 'Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty', the first treaty signed in human history, in the Istanbul Archeology Museum, which houses many important collections with artifacts from different civilizations from the Balkans to the Arabian Peninsula, and from African to Greek mythology.
4. Rahmi M. Koç Museum, İstanbul
İstanbul Rahmi M. Koç Museum has a slightly different concept than the usual museums in Türkiye. There are special collections of many industrial products you can think of, from cars to toys, from aviation to maritime, from scientific instruments to agricultural machinery…
Located on a very large area and by the sea, this museum is known as a mechanical museum because it contains collections of mechanical tools in various categories. Particularly, the section where the collection of classic cars is exhibited, is quite remarkable.
5. Antakya Archeology Museum, Hatay
We’re headed to Southern Türkiye for this next museum called Antakya Archeology Museum, also known as the Hatay Archeology Museum. It is a magnificent one with artworks from ancient periods. A total of 3500 square meters of mosaics are exhibited in this museum, which reflects the history of humanity and the artistic approach from ancient periods.
Besides being an art museum with an iconic statue of a soldier named Suppiluliuma, the museum is also where the world's largest mosaics are exhibited. There are also important works from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Ages and Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Eastern Roman, Seljuk and Ottoman periods in the museum.
6. Göreme Open-Air Museum, Nevşehir
Another must-see museum in Türkiye is Göreme Open Air Museum which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1985. The open-air museum is located in a region that has traces of monastic life from the 4-13th centuries, such as the geometric shapes used in the early periods of Christianity, chapels, churches and dining halls.
The whole Cappadocia - Göreme area is very impressive with its historical atmosphere and unique landscapes. You should definitely add it to your list!
7. The Anatolian Civilizations Museum, Ankara
The Anatolian Civilizations Museum dates back to 1921 and it is another impressive one on our list. The museum has been the home of the original works of Anatolian lands since the Paleolithic age, and consists of two historical buildings. These buildings are the Ottoman Period buildings; Mahmutpaşa Covered Bazaar and Kurşunlu Inn.
Having been renovated in 2014, this museum allows you to travel through history via virtual tours, animations and replicas of T-shaped stone pillars and other replicas of Göbeklitepe. The artifacts in Anatolian Civilizations Museum, which is one of the top-rated museums in the world with its unique collections and is the winner of the “Museum of the year in Europe” in 1997, are exhibited in chronologically separated sections. While you’re there we’d also recommend climbing to the top of the Ankara Castle for a panoramic view and having a drink.
The Anatolian Civilizations Museum
8. İstanbul Modern, İstanbul
If you’re particularly interested in modern museums, we definitely recommend you to stop by the Istanbul Modern, which is a museum that appeals especially to contemporary art enthusiasts.
The works of the important names of modern art are exhibited in this museum periodically. If you are interested in modern art and want to see pieces of contemporary art during your İstanbul trip, we recommend that you follow this museum's program where biennials are held as well.
9. Hagia Sophia Museum & Mosque, İstanbul
This next one is full of history and a great heritage of various cultures. Hagia Sophia Museum was originally built as the Christian Cathedral of Constantinople by the eastern Roman emperor Justinian I and designed by the Greek geometers. It was a Greek Orthodox church from 360 AD until the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 and served as a mosque until 1935, when it became a museum. In 2020, the site once again declared as a mosque.
Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture and its interior is decorated with mosaics, marble pillars, and coverings of great artistic value. The museum / mosque fascinates people by not only with its awe-inspiring architectural design, but also by its gold-plated, silver-plated, glass, terracotta and colored stone mosaics, and the original ceiling mosaics of the 6th century with their floral and geometric motifs. The place is famous for its exterior as well as its interior. There are tombs of princes and mausoleums of rulers whose reigns followed one another. Hagia Sophia is more than just a monument to the grandeur of human achievement and artistic expression. It also serves as the final resting place for important historical figures and their families, giving it a venerated historical status befitting its age and history.
The four minarets of Hagia Sophia, known to be built by the chief Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, the fountain of Sibyan (elementary) school, the clock room, the fountains, buttresses, the treasury building and the soup kitchen are also increasing the magnificence of the structure. You should definitely visit this masterpiece of architecture during your İstanbul trip!
10. Topkapı Palace, İstanbul
Our last museum recommendation to visit in Türkiye is Topkapı Palace, a museum that must be visited by those especially curious about Ottoman history. Topkapı Palace, which consists of 4 courtyards and 1 harem, houses various structures within its borders. One may feel like they are on a journey through history in this palace.
The Palace has been the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire for decades and hosted important names in history from all over the world. You may find yourself fascinated with Topkapı Palace Museum’s architecture and historical importance.
Here we come to the end of our list of must-see museums in Türkiye. It’s a unique feeling for us to see the existence of millions of artifacts belonging to different cultures in our country, which has hosted dozens of different civilizations, and to witness the traces of history to some extent.
If you like to explore and add new ones to your discoveries, you can include these museums with different concepts on your discovery lists. When you have the opportunity to visit one of the museums on our list, don’t forget to send us a photo of yours!