The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is known for having the world’s best rug collection. The rugs are rare Seljuk carpets from the 13th century that can’t be seen anywhere else. The museum’s rare instances of works from the Emevi, Abbasi, Artuklu, Eyyubi, Ilhanl, Timurid, Safavi, Kaçar, Memluk, Seljuk, and Ottoman periods were gathered from various parts of the Islamic world.
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts History
At 1914, the museum opened its doors in the Imaret structure (Alms house) within the Sulemaniye Mosque Complex. During that time, however, there was a significant thievery problem in Istanbul’s many mosques, masjids, monasteries, and lodges. A collection of works was gathered from many mosques, masjids, and tombs under the direction of Osman Hamdi Bey (manager of the Imperial Museum and a renowned painter best known for his “Tortoise Trainer” painting, which is now on display at the Pera Museum), and a new museum, the Museum of Islamic Foundations, was established in the same plaza.
It was called “the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” after the Turkish Republic was declared. The museum was relocated to its current position in the Ibrahim Pasha Palace (renovated by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1520) at Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome), immediately across the Blue Mosque, in 1983.
Things to See in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
◊ The Selçuk era displays demonstrate a high level of expertise, with wall tiles and woodcarvings that appear to have inspired Ottoman style.
◊ Make a point of seeing one of the hand-woven Uşak Anatolian rugs in the museum’s carpet area, which houses one of the world’s finest carpet collections.
◊ On the bottom floor, there’s a unique collection of Yörük (Turkish nomad) folk art, including tents used by nomads.
◊ A wonderful door dating from 1155 has been recovered from the Great Mosque in Cizre (south-east Turkey).
How to Get to the Istanbul Modern
The Istanbul Modern is located in Sultanahmet, in the middle of the Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome). Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, one of the best museums in Turkey, is on your back when you turn your back to the Blue Mosque while standing in Sultanahmet Square. The Bagcilar-Kabatas tram is the most convenient way to reach Sultanahmet.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum Map
Open daily from 09:30 to 19:00 (from April to October), 09:00 to 17:30 (from November to March) (from 01 October to 01 April). The ticket booths close one hour before the museum closes.