Turkish & Islamic Art Museum, Istanbul

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Istanbul‘s Turkish & Islamic Art Museum (Türk-Islam Eserleri Müzesi), on the Hippodrome across from the Blue Mosque (map), is a treasure-house of beautiful objects from the Ottoman (14th to 20th centuries), Seljuk (11th to 13th centuries), and earlier periods beginning in the 8th century.

Turkish & Islamic Art Museum

If you have an interest in Islamic Art, it’s worth a visit and the TL20 admission fee. Consider buying an Istanbul Museum Pass. It may save you time and money.

Closed for renovation for several years, the museum re-opened in January 2015 and is again available to visit. I visited in April 2015. It seems to me there are fewer exhibits than before, but well chosen and beautifully displayed. The renovations to the building were done beautifully. At this writing only the upper floor is used for exhibits. (Before the renovations, the lower floor held exhibits as well.)

During the Ottoman Empire the best art was religious art, just as it was in medieval Europe.
Turkish carpets, illuminated Kur’ans, calligraphy (at which the Ottomans excelled), carved and inlaid wood, glass, porcelain and stone are well displayed.

The museum is housed in the restored Palace of Ibrahim Pasha, a sumptuous residence built by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent‘s Grand Vezir (and intimate friend) İbrahim Pasha (served 1523-1536). What you see is only part of the original structure, whose foundations date from about 1500.

İbrahim Pasha was such a close friend and confidant of Süleyman’s, and had such influence over the monarch, that the sultan’s wife, Roxelana (Hürrem) was worried. When İbrahim supported the candidacy of Prince Mustafa to be successor to the throne, rather than that of Roxelana’s son Selim, Roxelana acted.

She denounced İbrahim to the sultan as a traitor, and on the night of March 14, 1536, after dining with the sultan in Topkapi Palace, Ibrahim was strangled, and all his wealth seized by the imperial government.

One of İbrahim’s mistakes was in living in a palace and a style that rivaled that of his sovereign. Rüstem Pasha, his successor, did not make the same mistake.

You may also want to visit the Istanbul Archeological Museums, a 10- to 15-minute walk northward past Ayasofya toward Topkapı Palace (map), and also the Carpet Museum next to Hagia Sophia.

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