A Turkey museum of some sort or another can be found in every corner of Turkey. In fact, just about the entire country is a virtual living museum, with incredible ancient ruins, beautiful mosques, and traditional bazaars dating back to the days of the fabled Silk Road. You can consider virtually all the sights and attractions you visit as Turkish museums because even shopping bazaars are steeped in history. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul rivals the reputation of the famous Khan el Khalili Bazaar in Cairo. It opened in 1461, marking the beginning of the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire.
More traditional museums in Turkey also exist throughout the country, because the government has worked hard to support the heritage of different regions by keeping many artifacts in the places where they originate rather than transport them to Istanbul, the largest city. Just about every town and city you visit will have a worthwhile Turkey museum displaying some artifact from its history.
The country’s largest and most fascinating city is Istanbul. Additionally, it is the center of the tourism industry. Most of the finest museums in Turkey are located here. The incredible and magnificent Hagia Sophia is here, and it is one of the most recognizable sights in the city with its massive dome and four graceful minarets. It was originally built as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral between 532 and 537, and was the largest cathedral in the world until the one in Seville, Spain, was built in 1520. When Constantinople was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453, it was converted into a mosque, and served as such until it was then converted into the Ayasofya Museum in 1934 ( Ayasofya is the Turkish language version of its name). It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of historic Istanbul, and considered one of the most significant examples of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture in the world, with mosaics that rival those of the great churches in Ravenna, Italy. All other museums in Turkey take second place to this extraordinary treasure.
The Istanbul Archaeology Museum is another of the finest Turkish museums with an extraordinary collection of artifacts from around the country. Some of the best pieces from places like Ephesus are displayed in the three sections of the museum, which sits in and around the grounds of Topkapi Palace. Here are pieces of the Temple of Zeus at Bergama and the Mausoleum of Maussollos near today’s Bodrum, one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum is housed in a former castle that was constructed by the Knights Hospitaller beginning in1402. These legendary Crusade knights were for a time based in Cyprus, then on the island of Rhodes in Greece, and finally on Malta. Today, some of the most priceless archeological finds have been made underwater, since many ships wrecked offshore from Bodrum’s Turquoise Coast location near Marmaris. Finds from these wrecks are displayed in this world class Turkey museum and include priceless gold jewelry and coins and ancient glass pieces. Turkish museums also exist in smaller cities and towns. If you are interested in the history of this fascinating country, be sure to visit at least one.