Turkish & Islamic Art Museum Istanbul


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Located in Sultanahmet Square in Fatih district of Istanbul; Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum was constructed in 1524. The building was the palace of Damat Ibrahim Pasha, who was the first grand vizier to Suleiman the Magnificent, and husband of the Sultan’s sister. It is the first Turkish museum covering the Turkish and Islamic artworks wholly. The establishment works that have been started at the end of 19th century have been completed in 1913 and the museum has been opened for visitors in the soup kitchen building located in Suleymaniye Mosque complex, which is one of the most important works of Mimar Sinan, with the name of "Evkaf-i Islamiyet Muzesi" (Islamic Foundations Museum). After the announcement of the republic, it has taken the name "Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum".

The museum has been moved to Ibrahim Pasha Palace from the soup kitchen building in 1983. Ibrahim Pasha Palace, which is one of the most important samples of 16th Century Ottoman civil architecture samples is on the stages of the historical Hippodrome, the history of which goes back to the Roman Period. This building, the precise construction reason, and date are not known, has been presented to Ibrahim Pasha by Kanuni Sultan Suleyman in 1520, who would be his grand vizier for 13 years.

Ibrahim Pasha Palace, which is claimed to be bigger and more magnificent than Topkapi Palace by the history has been the stage of many weddings, feasts, and celebrations as well as rebellions and turmoil and called with the name of Ibrahim Pasha after the death of this person in 1536. It has been used by other grand viziers and had functions such as barracks, embassy palace, register office, Janissary band house, sewing workshop and prison.

The palace located around four big internal courtyards has been made of stone in contrast with many Ottoman civilian buildings, most of which are wooden, therefore it could reach today and has been repaired between the years 1966 - 1983 and has been born again as the new building of the museum. The section, which is used as a museum today is the big ceremony hall of the palace and the 2nd courtyard surrounding it, which have been the subject of all Ottoman miniatures of the palace and the gravures and tables of Western artists.

It has been awarded with the Special Jury Award of Museum of the Year Competition of the European Council in 1984 and with the prize given by European Council - Unesco for its studies for making the children love the cultural inheritance.

Being among the important museums of the world in its class has works from almost all periods and all types of Islamic art with its collection exceeding forty thousand works.

The collection includes notable examples of Islamic calligraphy, tiles, and rugs as well as ethnographic displays on various cultures in Turkey such as Seljuks, Ottoman and particularly nomad groups from 8th centuries. These displays recreate rooms or dwellings from different time periods and regions.

The last renovations took a little longer than expected and many visitors had to miss this. Surprisingly, it was opened later on by 2015 and all realized that it really worth waiting.

Carpet Section

The carpet section forming the richest collection of carpet art in the world had a separate importance and caused the museum's being famous as a "Carpet Museum" for long years. The museum has the richest carpet collection of not only Turkey but also the world. Besides rare Seljuk carpets, prayer rugs and animal figured carpets belonging to the 15th centuries and the carpets produced in Anatolia between the 15th - 17th centuries and called as "Holbein Carpet" in the West inspired by the geometrically figured or kufi writing are the most valuable parts of this section.

The carpet collection that became richer with Iranian and Caucasian carpets and famous Usak and palace carpet samples is a reference, which the ones carrying out a serious research on the carpet art in the world must apply to.

Handwritings and Calligraphy Section

Koran-i Kerims constituting a big part of the writing collection of the museum from the 7th century to the 20th century come from a large geographical region where Islam has spread over.

It is one of the rare collections, where Emevi, Abbasi, Egypt and Syria Tulunogullari, Fatimi, Eyyubi, Mamluk, Mongolia, Turkmen, Seljuk, Timuri, Safavi, Kacar and Anatolian Principalities and Ottoman calligraphy creations can be observed altogether.

Among the handwritings, except Korans, there are books (some of them with pictures) written about various subjects and these draw attention both in terms of their writing styles and their coatings.

Imperial edicts, warrants bearing the signatures of Ottoman sultans, the sultan's signatures each of which is a work of art, Turkish and Iranian miniature writings make this museum one of the most important museums of the world.

Section of Wooden Works

The most important parts of this collection are the samples of Anatolian Wood art of 9th - 10th century.

Besides the unique parts that remained from the Anatolian Seljuks and principalities, mother of pearl, ivory, tortoiseshell ornamented wooden works of the Ottoman Period, unique samples of inlaying art, Koran part cases, bookrests, drawers are the interesting parts of this rich collection.

Stone Art Section

Stoneworks belonging to Emevi, Abbasi, Mamluk, Seljuk, Ottoman periods, some of which have motifs and some of which have figures, but all of which have writings have been gathered in Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. Unique and elite samples of the stone art of Seljuk Period, gravestones on which hunting scenes, fairy creatures such as Sphinx, gryphon, dragon, early - period stone works with kufi writings, inscriptions written in different methods that are projections of Ottoman calligraphy art are important both in quality and in quantity.

Section of Ceramic and Glass

In this collection consisting mostly of the ceramic works found in the excavations made between 1908 - 14, the ones from Samarra, Rakka, Tel Halep, Kesan are in the first ranks.

It is possible to see the stages of Early - Islamic Period ceramic art in the collection of the museum. The mosaic, mihrab, and wall encaustic tile samples belonging to the Anatolian Principalities and Seljuk Periods and the plaster ornaments of Konya Kilicaslan Palace constitute another important part of the collection. Ottoman encaustic tile and ceramic art samples end with near - period Kutahya and Canakkale ceramics.

The glass collection starts with the 9th-century Islamic glass art samples and includes 15th-century Mamluk candles, Ottoman period glass art samples.

Metal Art Section

Starting with the unique samples belonging to the Great Seljuk Empire period and mortar, censer, long - spouted ewer, mirror, and dirhems constitute an important collection with the door knockers of Cizre Ulu Mosque and 14th-century candelabrums ornamented with constellation and planet symbols, which have an important place in Islamic metal art.

Among the Ottoman metal art samples starting from the 16th century and reaching the 19th century, there are silver, brass, tombac (ornamented with valuable stones) crests, candles, rose water cans, censers, washtub/ewer sets.

Ethnography Section

Ethnographic parts collected for long years have found the possibility of being exhibited with the transfer of Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum to Ibrahim Pasha Palace.

The youngest part of the museum is exhibited in this collection, consisting of carpet - kilim looms collected from various regions of Anatolia, wool painting techniques, public weaving and ornamenting art samples, clothes in their regional enhancements, house goods, hand arts, hand art instruments, nomad tents exhibited in places special to them.

Open every day except for Monday.

Museum Hours:

High Season (Apr.-Oct.) Open: 09:00 / Close: 19:00
Low Season (Nov.-Mar) Open: 09:00 / Close: 17:00