Best Museums to Visit in Turkey

Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya, Istanbul)

hagia-sophia-216471_960_720The Hagia Sophia shows a melding of Christian and Islam. It was initially built as a church and was later changed to a mosque. This 5th-century building is one of the must-sees in Istanbul, and some would say it is one of the most important historical sites in the world. It is a very well preserved architectural masterpiece. There is no need to feel unsafe as there are a large security and police presence.

Topkapi Palace (Istanbul)

A popular place for history lovers, this palace from the Ottoman Empire is still as stunning as when it was built (after the conquest of Constantinople in 1475-1478). Built on the orders of Sultan Mehmed the Second, it is quite large and requires a lot of walking to get through it all, but it is well worth it. Visitors will get a glimpse into what life was like for the Sultan and his family. The tour includes the kitchens, where the sultan’s cooks prepared thousands of meals a day. Set aside a full day to properly explore this masterpiece or 2-3 hours for a quick look around.

Ataturk Mausoleum / Anıtkabir (Ankara)

This is one of the top cultural tourist destinations in Turkey. The unique architecture of this mausoleum creates for quite an impressive structure. The mausoleum was built for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – the well-loved founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. Atatürk led the Turkish War of Independence. As visitors walk along the 860ft pedestrian walkway towards the mausoleum, they pass the 12 lion pairs carved in such a way as to look akin to the Hittite archaeological finds. The paving on the walkway has 5cm gaps between the stones. This is to force visitors to walk slowly and not rush, thereby observing respectful behaviour when visiting the tomb.