Islamic Art Museum in Istanbul – A Journey Through Turkey’s Past

While the Islamic Art Museum in Istanbul cannot be compared to some of the world’s great art galleries, it is nonetheless a place no art lover wants to miss. Our Egypt and Turkey Tours typically do not include a visit to this museum but it is definitely worth visiting if are passionate about art.

Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul

Entrance of the Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul.

The Islamic Art Museum was the last museum to be opened during the Ottoman Period, and it was originally commissioned in a bid to stop art works from being stolen. At the time, a lot of places, including some mosques, were being targeted by thieves.

The original museum was finally completed and opened to the public in 1913. At the time, the museum was called the Museum Of Muslim Endowments, and it was located within the Suleymaniye Mosque complex.

After Turkey became a republic the museum was relocated to its current location which is the Ibrahim Pahsa Palace. This happened in 1983, and its name was subsequently changed to the Museum Of Turkish and Islamic Arts. These days, most people know it simply as the Islamic Art Museum in Istanbul. Since not everyone is an art lover, the museum remains one of the lesser known Turkey tourist attractions.

Ibrahim Pahsa Palace – A Fitting Venue

The Ibrahim Pahsa Palace was constructed in 1524 and served as the residence for Pargali Ibrahim Pahsa who was Suleiman the Magnificent’s first grand vizier. Coincidentally, Suleiman the Magnificent, as he was known in the west, was the longest reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He was also one of the only Sultans to personally lead Ottoman armies into battle.

Interestingly enough, Pargali began his life in the royal court as a six year old slave. He had been captured and sold as a slave to the Ottoman Palace. He soon became very good friends with Suleiman who was a child himself at the time, and this is essentially how he managed to later become Suleiman’s vizier.

Despite his position and his close ties to Suleiman the Magnificent, Pargali was later framed for a conspiracy plot by Suleiman’s wife, and duly executed.

What To Expect When Entering The Museum

The Islamic Art Museum in Istanbul, as it stands today, is divided into two distinctive sections:

  1. Turkish and Islamic arts section
  2. Ethnographic section

The Turkish and Islamic arts section houses fantastic displays of old woodwork; metalwork; tiles; ceramics; carpets; stonework, and of course, calligraphy.

The ethnographic section on the other hand is essentially dedicated to showing visitors how life once was during the 18th and 19th centuries. Here one can see rug making equipment; traditional houses; tents; natural dyes and etc.

The museum has more than 40,000 items on display and has received a number of awards from UNESCO. It is generally seen as being one of the best of its kind.

When To Visit The Islamic Art Museum In Istanbul

The Islamic Art Museum in Istanbul is open every day of the week between 09h30 and 16h30, except Mondays.

If you would like to visit the Islamic Art Museum in Istanbul, along with countless other unforgettable sites, please visit our Egypt and Turkey Tours to secure your trip of a lifetime.

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Last Updated on May 8, 2024