Istanbul Museums and Palaces - Istanbul Guide

Topkapi Palace, which had been the seat of goverment for the Ottoman Empire that ruled three continents for centuries, was built in 1459. It was home to the sultans and their families until the reign of Sultan Abdulmecit. Therefore, it has a very rich collection today.

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The Hagia Sophia Museum is a masterpiece with a synthesis of the Occident and the Orient, a unique example of architectural applications, and is considered to be the one and only example in this respect. It is among the most important monuments have survived to today, now belonging to the history of architecture. Hagia Sophia was used as a church for 916 years and as a mosque for 481 years.It has been a museum since 1935.

The Hagia Irene Museum: The church built in the 6th century could not be turned into a mosque as it is inside the palace of Topkapi.

The Museum of Archaelogy: The museum was founded by Osman Hamdi Bey, an artist and archaeologist, on the 13th of June 1891. At that time it was called Muze-i Humayun. The lateral wings were added in 1902 and 1908. A new large and modern section was also added and new arrangements were made in the museum in 1991, the hundredth aniversary of the foundation of the museum.

The Museum of Calligraphic Arts: This museumwas opened in 1968 under the name of the museum of Turkish Calligraphic Arts in Sultan Selim Madrasah. It was moved to its current building in 1984. It inscludes inscribed cards, calligraphic works, sultan's signatures and Qurans belonging to various famous calligraphers and calligrapher sultans.

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts: This is the first Turkish museum that comprehensively covers Turkish and Islamic art. The museum, which was established under the name of Evkaf-i Islamiye Museumin the soup kitchen section of the Suleymaniye Kulliye in 1914, was moved to the Ibrahim Pasa Palace between the years 1965 and 1983. It is the only private palace other than palaces of sultans that has survived up to now.

Kariye Museum: This church is dated to between the 11th and 14th centuries. Beside its animated outer architecture,the interior mosaics and fresco decorations are masterpieces which are considered to have been the Renaissance of the Byzantine art. The lives of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary are depicted in the two corridors in the entrance section, as they are described in the Bible.

Dolmabahce Palace, which was finished in 1856, was based on a 11.000 metersquare area and is composed of 16 sections in addition to the main building. During the era of Sultan Abdulhamid the second, a clock tower and the Heir room were added. Built by two Ottoman architects, Karabet and Nikogos Balyan, the main structure of the palace is composed of three sections: the Selamlik, the Parade Hall and the Seraglio.

Ciragan Palace: This was built in 1871 on the site of a wooden palace in the most beautiful part of the bosphorus by the Architect Serkis Balyan by the order of Sultan Abdulaziz. Superior examples of stonework are completed in rooms with elaborated pillars.

İbrahim Pasa Palace: Belonging to Damat İbrahim Pasha, son in low of Sultan Suleyman the Law Maker, the palace is based on Byzantium's historical Hippodrome in Sultanahmet Square. It now houses the Turkish-Islamic Art Museum.

Beylerbeyi Palace: The name of this district was derived from the mansion of Mehmet Pasha located here. He was the Governor of Rumelia during Sultan Murat the Third's reign.
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