Istanbul Archaeology Museums (What to See? Tickets, Skip the Lines, Insider Guide 2020)

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The Istanbul Archaeology Museums, also known as Istanbul Archaeological Museum, are one of the richest archaeology museums in the world, in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Fatih district, along the Osman Hamdi Bey ramp, on the site close to Hagia Sophia Museum and Topkapi Palace Museum. Istanbul Archaeology Museums consist of three separate museums on the site that include the Archaeology Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavilion. That’s why it’s called plural.


Museum History

Dating back to 1869, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums was first founded as the Imperial Museum with the archaeological items collected from the nearby Hagia Irene Church.

Afterwards, as the museum building was inadequate to display the remnants during the excavation works and diggings on the site of the newly revealed Necropolis of Sydon in 1887-1888, the museum moved to the main building (the Archaeology Museum) that was designed by the renowned architect Alexandre Vallaury, and took it’s today’s form with the construction of the auxiliary units that were built in 1903 and 1907.

Istanbul Archaeology Museums (What to See? Tickets, Skip the Lines, Insider Guide 2020)

And all those developments administrated by Osman Hamdi Bey, manager of the Imperial Museum and a renowned painter well known for its “Tortoise Trainer” painting which is exhibited at the Pera Museum today.

The Museum of the Ancient Orient building was also designed by the renowned architect Alexandre Vallaury, again by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1883.


And the third museum of the complex, the Tiled Pavilion was constructed by the order of Fatih Sultan Mehmed, in 1472. It has a Seljucks style architecture which is the only one in Istanbul.

What to See?

Museum Collections

Istanbul Archaeology Museums houses over one million immense collection from various civilizations such as Assyrian, Hittite, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman civilizations that had deep effect throughout the history.

Istanbul Archaeology Museums (What to See? Tickets, Skip the Lines, Insider Guide 2020)

Istanbul Archaeology Museums are also listed on the top 10 museums in the world that was designed, established and serving as a museum building, as well as the first one in Turkey. The site of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums has very peaceful and beautiful courtyard and gardens. The museums’ buildings and architectures are also very impressive.

The Archaeology Museum

The Archaeology Museum houses very impressive pieces from the excavation of Necropolis of Sydon such as the Sarcophagies of Alexander the Great and King Tabnit, the Lycian Sarcophagus and the Mourning Women Sarcophagus are amongst the most valuable pieces in the museum. The exhibition of “Istanbul Through the Ages” is also worth a see.

Istanbul Archaeology Museums (What to See? Tickets, Skip the Lines, Insider Guide 2020)

The Museum of the Ancient Orient

The Museum of the Ancient Orient great pieces from the pre-Islamic Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Anatolia. The Treaty of Kadesh, (signed in 1274), which is the oldest peace treaty in the world that is revealed in Hattusa, the Hittite capital; and a Love Poem from the 8th century ancient Babylonian era, are one of the most popular pieces at the museum.


Istanbul Archaeology Museums (What to See? Tickets, Skip the Lines, Insider Guide 2020)

The Tiled Pavilion

The Tiled Pavilion, also known as “Islamic Art Museum”, houses about 2,000 pieces belonging to Seljucks and Ottomans era.

Istanbul Archaeology Museums (What to See? Tickets, Skip the Lines, Insider Guide 2020)

Visiting Hours & Admissions

Opening Hours

Open every day except Mondays, from 09:00-20:00 (from 01 April to 01 October), 09:00-18:00 (from 01 October to 01 April).

Closed on Mondays.

Hours of Ticket Sale

Ticket counters close 1 hour before the museum closing time.

Special Days

Not available for visiting in the first days of Ramadan and Sacrifice Festivals for half time. See Turkey’s public holidays

Ticket Price

* 36 TL (about €5,75) at ticket window on location

Where to Buy Tickets

You can buy them at ticket windows but it will cost you about at least 1 hour waiting in the line. And this will effect your future sightseeing calendar.

We recommend you buy your tickets online. This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get tickets to Istanbul Archaeology Museums.

We put the links to the official buying channels below. Just pick your date and time and skip the lines.

Ticket Options and Prices

There are several options:

General Admission Tickets

Istanbul Archaeology Museums entrance fee on your own is 36 TL (about €5,75). This is the ticket window on location option.

The general admission tickets will let you enter the museum and explore on your own. You should know that there is very little explanation of the architecture by signs, plates, etc.

If you just want to have quick look inside without need of understand the history behind, and waiting in the queue is not a problem, this is the ticket for you.

The skip the line access tickets with a guide (see below) can be little bit expensive but you’ll definitely experience and enjoy the museums with that service.

You should consider on your own would it worth to pay that amount to save yourself from about 1 hour waiting in the line, and have a guide. We guess it would!

Guided Tours

This is the best option we recommend especially for first time visitors. And we always recommend opting for an extended English guided tour offered exclusively by several historian guides of Istanbul.

When you book you’ll get an email confirmation with meeting details (in front of the Hagia Sophia Museum, very close to Istanbul Archaeology Museums) and there your name being checked from the official guide’s list with your confirmation number.

See below the recommended Istanbul Archaeology Museums guided tours with fast track entry.

Istanbul Archaeology Museums: Travel 6.000 years back and discover the story of humanity with the expert guide

This is offered by Istanbul Welcome Card and we highly recommend. You’ll enjoy Istanbul Archaeology Museums with one of the few historian guides available in Istanbul, who will tell you about each detail and the human story starting from the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, and you’ll have a detailed look at the rooms, gardens, galleries, collections and the decoration from the past and today that tell the story of the museums.

Highlights:

  • Visit sarcophagus of Alexander the Great
  • Discover the artifacts from Sumerians
  • Explore Ancient Orient Museum
  • Listen to mysterious stories from the history expert
  • Travel in time for 90 minutes

Ticket price: €20

Rebooking & Cancellation Policy: You have missed your meeting time? No problem, you can come to our next meeting time or day. You want to cancel? No problem, you can cancel your reservation anytime and get your refund.

Istanbul Archaeology Museums Tour with Fast Track Entry & Historian Guide


Combo Guided Tour: Great Palace Mosaics + IST Archaeology Museums

This is offered by Istanbul Welcome Card and we highly recommend. You’ll explore two museums with a historian guide, and have fast track entry. You’ll enjoy the essentials of Greek Mythology and Byzantine Culture through these two museums which are one of the most important gateways to the heart of the mythology in Istanbul.

Highlights:

  • Explore the Great Byzantine Palace Mosaics Museum
  • Learn the stories of the mosaics from a mythology lover
  • Visit the Istanbul Archaeology Museums
  • Mesmerize with the statues of ancient gods and goddesses
  • Travel in time for 3 hours

Ticket price: €30

Rebooking & Cancellation Policy: You have missed your meeting time? No problem, you can come to our next meeting time or day. You want to cancel? No problem, you can cancel your reservation anytime and get your refund.

Great Palace Mosaics Museum + IST Archaeology Museums Combo Guided Tour


Istanbul Museum Pass

Istanbul Archaeology Museums is included in the Istanbul Museum Pass. You can buy Museum Pass to visit this museum. Note that Museum Pass is only worth it if you want to visit more than five Istanbul museums. Read more and book from our Istanbul Museum Pass page.


How to Get There

Location

Istanbul Archaeology Museums is situated in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Fatih district, along a path between Hagia Sophia Museum and Topkapi Palace Museum. See the location map.

Transportation

The most practical way to get to Sultanahmet is via Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line).

  • The closest tram stop is Sultanahmet.
  • Sultanahmet Square and most of the connecting roads are closed for vehicle traffic except tram and tour buses.
  • From Taksim, take the funicular to Kabatas (from taksim Square) or funicular to Karakoy (from Tunel square) and than take the tram.
  • If you stay at the Sultanahmet hotels, than you easily walk to the museum.

Check our Sultanahmet page to see how to get to Sultanahmet in details.

Contact Details

Address: Alemdar Str., Osman Hamdi Bey ramp, Gulhane, Istanbul


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