TRAVEL IN TIME: THE BEST MUSEUMS OF TURKEY

ANATOLIA IS WORTH SEEING INCH BY INCH… VISITING OUR MUSEUMS IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN THE HISTORY OF THIS LAND.

Anatolia is almost like an open-air museum. This geography, which goes back in time from Hittites to Greeks and from Byzantines to Ottomans, is full of treasures that bear the traces of a unique history. Museums are the best representatives of this history. It is possible to chase these traces closely thanks to approximately 300 museums that spread around Turkey. Here is a selection of the best museums that you should not miss visiting as you travel in time…

THE MASTERWORK THAT MAKES THE WORLD AMAZED: HAGIA SOPHIA
Hagia Sophia still amazes the world after surviving for almost 1500 years. The reasons are obvious; its size, architectural innovations, efforts and the fortune that were spent for it… The year is 532. The people, including the emperor, are gathered at the Hippodrome in İstanbul, the capital city of Byzantine, watching the chariot races in excitement. At the end of the game, a fight takes place between the teams. The crowd uses this fight as an opportunity to start a political riot. Following the suppression of the riot, the emperor orders the construction of Hagia Sophia in accordance with a plan that goes beyond its time.

10 thousand labors worked
The height of its dome from the ground is 55.6 meters and its diameter is 31-32 meters. In the construction of Hagia Sophia, meaning ‘Holly Wisdom,’ 10 thousand labors worked for 10 years day and night. It was so magnificent when it was complete; even Justinianus couldn’t hide his excitement as he entered through the main gate. Although, the fame of the museum is associated with its size, another striking characteristic of the museum is that, the pillars and marbles that were brought from different cities and temples are reused in here with a creative sense of art. Hagia Sophia, which was turned into a museum in 1935 and visited by millions of tourist with admiration, is still a legendary structure prominent with its beyond-its-time architecture.

HEART OF THE CAPITAL: TOPKAPI PALACE
Entering Topkapı Palace, heart of the capital city that was the center of an empire dominated the world for over 400 years, is almost like traveling in time.

The palace is located in Sultanahmet Square in İstanbul. When you enter the first courtyard through the Bab-ı Hümayun gate, famous with its calligraphic inscriptions, you will notice Hagia Irene from the 6th century. The kitchens in the second courtyard exhibit the world’s third important porcelain collection from China and Japan. The mysterious world of Harem, heart of the palace, Kaşıkçı Diamond, the Treasury that you can see the Topkapı Dagger, Has Oda (private quarters of sultans and where holy relics are exhibited,) pavilions built in the courtyard to celebrate victories facing Haliç (the Golden Horn,) pools, and gardens… These are going to take you to the depths of the state and daily life of the Ottoman world all day long.

COME WHOEVER YOU ARE: MEVLANA MUSEUM
Mevlana Museum, located in Konya, is the most visited historical place after Topkapı Museum in Turkey. It is important in the aspect of belief tourism. It was rearranged as Mevlana Convent and Museum in 1925. When the location of Mevlana Convent was the Rose Garden of Seljuk Palace, the garden was given to Mevlana’s father Sultânü’l-Ulemâ Bâhaeddin Veled as a gift by Sultan Alâ ad-Dîn Kayqubâd.

Manuscripts are amazing
Not only the symbolic coffins of dervishes, but Seljuk and Ottoman manuscripts, spread over a time frame between the 12th and the 19th centuries, are also magnificent. Handwritten Quran and Mevlana’s Mesnevis, the Quran and verses from the Quran written on gazelle leather in Kûfî style from the 9th century, gold-leaf pages astound one. In the tomb, among the coffins of dervishes, it is possible to see people praying under Kubbe-i Harda (Green Dome) next to the symbolic coffins of dervishes, especially Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi’s and his son’s, Sultan Veled’s.

A hidden detail in each corner
You can also see convent items, dervish cells, musical instruments of dervishes, Mevlana’s personal belongings, his clothes, and his praying rug, and Seljuk carpets. Don’t miss to see the eight-string violin, which is accepted as an ancestor of the violin family, patience stones, and the globe that was used to teach astronomy lessons during the days that Galileo was hung. You can visit this place a few times because a detail is hidden in each corner.

IMPRESSIVE HISTORY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN: ANTALYA ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
Antalya, the popular destination of the Mediterranean, doesn’t only mean sea, sand, and the sun. Antalya Archeological Museum is among the places that you should not miss to see. Museum comprises of halls such as Mosaics, Sarcophaguses, Gods, Marble Portraits, and icons.

“Philosopher’s Mosaic” located at the Mosaics Hall is remarkable. It was found at the agora of Seleukeia, an ancient city of Pamphylia. Many of the sarcophaguses exhibited at the Sarcophaguses Hall are from the digs at the Perge necropolis. It is possible to observe the technological and aesthetical developments of the earthenware items at the Ceramic Artworks Hall. Seeing the great combination of sculpture and mythology at the Gods Hall is marvelous.

Weary Heracles is here
Fossils, examples of burying the dead traditions, items from the regional digs, the statues of emperors from the Roman period, male and female busts, and old coins are also exhibited at the museum. Don’t skip to see the Weary Heracles statue and the Dancer figure.

A STOP AT THE CAPITAL: MUSEUM OF THE ANATOLIAN CIVILIZATIONS
It may not be among the world’s or Turkey’s largest museums; however, Museum of the Anatolian Civilizations is among the bests for many years since the museum received the title of ‘The Best Museum in Europe’ by means of its striking collection that covers many ages in Switzerland in 1997. It was selected among 68 museums

Originals are here
The possibility of finding the original of an archeological find that you might have seen its photo or its replica in different archeological digs around Turkey is very likely in this museum. It is an extraordinary museum, documenting the people of Anatolia from the Paleolithic Age to Classical Age, their cultures, and their life styles. The works at the museum, located at the Old Mahmutpaşa Bedesten and Kurşunlu Inn buildings, are exhibited chronologically beginning from the entrance. Giant stone relief sculptures from Hittites and Phrygians are in the middle room.

Atatürk initiated
What follows is the finds from the most recent digs. The exhibit continues through the garden with Greek and Roman statues along the way. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk initiated the founding of this museum with the idea of founding a Hittite museum at the center. He ensured that some of the Hittite works from around Turkey were sent to Ankara.

A PARADE OF CIVILIZATIONS: ÇORUM MUSEUM
Even before its entrance, the historical building of Çorum Museum, which was built in 1914, impresses you. The lighting of the well-organized museum brings out the beauty of the relics. The museum exhibits the finds from the digs in Hattusa, Alacahöyük, and Ortaköy (Şapinuva) located around Çorum.

You can see seals, needles, and daggers from the Calcolithic Age. Don’t miss the engraved vase, which was found at the Yörüklü/Hüseyindede Hill, from the old Hittite period (BC 1650-1450.) The tablet reconstructed at Yazılıkaya depicting the Great King Tudhaliya, an architectural fragment from the Hittite period, the head of the Sun Goddess from the Hittite Empire period found in Boğazköy- Hattuşa, the Protective God of Rural that is exhibited under a magnifying glass, and a saw that was found in Hattusa from the Hittite Empire period  are the things that draw attention at the lower floors of the museum. Upper floors comprise of finds from Ortaköy-Şapinuva. Roman period jewelries, glasses, and mirrors are at the top floor.

Seals, graves…
The seals from the Byzantine period are worth seeing. You can also see the sword with an ivory grasp from 1430 BC and from the Tudhaliya II period, L tomb among the Alacahöyük King Tombs, and rhytons at the museum.

BYZANTINE TRACES: GÖREME OPEN AIR MUSEUM
There are approximately 360 stone-carved churches around the Cappadocia Region. Göreme Open Air Museum is the pearl of this area, because the best-preserved murals and churches from the Byzantine period are located in here. The paints that are used to make the murals are made from plant and tree roots, and flowers.

There are six churches at the museum. One convent at the entrance belongs to priests and the other one belongs to sisters. Stone carved long massive table and its seats are also impressive. Following the 4th century, when the Roman Empire declared Christianity as its official religion, Saint Basil came here and selected this important part of the region as the center of education. Members of the clergy had lived, received education, and prayed in this region for centuries.

Selim III ordered its restoration
Karanlık, Çarıklı, and Tokalı Churches are restored by the order of Sultan Selim III during his visits to these churches when he was in Central Anatolia. His love of art was well known. For this reason, he is depicted wearing his headdress in one of the murals located at Çarıklı Church, to honor him. This is a rare example.