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The History of Turkey - Visiting the Best Museums in Turkey

Turkey has been the centre of several historical events making it one of the countries with the richest histories in the world. However, while you can find several ruins from the Ottoman empire, you will also encounter Roman interference in Turkey.

If you are a history buff and visiting turkey for a vacation, visiting museums and ruins of ancient cities are some of the most interesting things you can do. Today Turkey has almost 100 museum directorates attached to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Besides that, turkey has over 150 museums in all 36 provinces and over 1200 private collections.

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Here we will talk about the several major museums in turkey that can show you the rich history of Turkey.

Istanbul Archaeology Museums

The Istanbul Archaeology Museums is a group of three major museums. The museums included in the group are:

  • Archaeology Museum Main Building
  • Museum of Ancient Orient
  • Museum of Islamic Art

These three museums together house more than one million artefacts and objects representing the several eras of civilizations that lived in Turkey and are parts of world history.

The Museum was established in 1891 by Osman Hamdi Bey, who was also the first curator of the Museum. The Ottoman sultan had visited Paris, London, and Vienna in 1867 and was mesmerized by their archaeological museums. His fascination with the artefacts encouraged him to build his own Museum when he got back to Istanbul.

Soon after, an imperial decree was enforced to protect the artefacts of Turkey, which encouraged several governors from different provinces to send rare artefacts to the capital city. On its 100th Anniversary in 1991, the Museum also receives the European Council Museum Awards, particularly for the renovation of the lower halls in the main building.

Gallery and Artifacts

Some of the most important artefacts in the Istanbul Archaeology Museums are:

  • The Alexander Sarcophagus found at the Necropolis of Sidong
  • The Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty
  • Lycian sarcophagus of Sidon in Parian marble from the Sidon necropolis
  • Pediment and shafts of a temple
  • The Greek Exhibition
  • Virgin Mary icon with relief
  • Statue of Emperor Valentinian II
  • Statue of Alexander the Great
  • Glazed brick panel from way to Ishtar Gate of Babylon
  • Tabnit sarcophagus in Diorite from the Sidon necropolis
  • Busts of Alexander the Great and Zeus
  • Fragments from the temple of Athena at Assos
  • The Troy exhibit
  • 800,000 Ottoman coins, seals, decorations, and medals
  • One tablet with the oldest known law collection, the laws of king Ur-Nammu

Once believed to be prepared for Alexander the Great, the ornate Alexander Sarcophagus is among the most famous pieces of ancient art in the Museum. Besides that, the Museum also has a large collection of Turkish, Roman, and Hellenistic artefacts gathered from the large territories of the Ottoman empire.

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is located on the south side of the Ankara Castle in the Atpazari area of Ankara, Turkey. The Museum consists of the Old Ottoman MahmutPasa bazaar storage building and the Kurşunlu Han. the Museum was built as Atatürk desired to establish a Hittite Museum. Upon suggestions from HamitZübeyirKoşay, the Culture Minister of Turkey, the Hittite Museum was remodelled in 1938-1968 and was reopened as the Ankara Archaeology Museum.


The Anatolian civilization museum is in two different Ottoman buildings that are located near the Ankara Castle. One of the buildings is MahmutPaşaBedesteni and the other is Kurşunlu Han also known as the caravanserai. The MahmutPaşaBedesteni were built in 1464-1471 by Mahmut Pasha. Ten domes are covering the rectangular building design, and has over 102 shops surrounding the area.

On the other hand, the Kurşunlu Han has no specific building date but was renovated in 1946, and several coins from the period of Murat II were discovered in the area. The building had over 30 rooms on the first floor and 28 on the ground floor. The Han is designed typically to the Ottoman PEriod styles and is unique with a mosque and a madrasa in its walls.

The two buildings were completely abandoned after the fire in 1881 and were later renovated into the Museum in 1946.


Palaeolithic Age (....8000 BC)

When excavating the Antalya Karain Cave, archaeologists found several artefacts of people from the Palaeolithic age. In addition, archaeologists found several bone and stone tools that are displayed in the Museum categorized by time.

Neolithic Age (8000-5500 BC)

This was the time of the first villages and the beginning of agriculture. Several artefacts from neighbouring areas were found that are related to the Neolithic Age. Some artefacts include Mother Goddess Sculptures, agricultural tools, wall paintings, stamps, clay figures, and more.

Chalcolithic Age (Copper-Stone) (5500-3000 BC)

In addition to stone tools, this era had the use of copper fr several tools and utensils. Several exhibits in the Museum represent a large collection of stones, metal tools, goddess figurines, seals, and decorative copper jewellery.

Early Bronze Age (3000-1950 BC)

The people of Anatolia amalgamated copper and tin and invented the Bronze in 3000BC. Besides the valuable metal artefacts found in the region, several bronze figurines were found in graves and tombs of the Old Bronze Age. the collection of items found includes solar discs, deer statutes, thin female figurines, and several golden pieces of jewellery.

Lydian Period (1200-546 BC)

The origin of the Lydian period is from the Bronze age and provides several correlations. Lydians made great progress in the Iron Age and created several things that are placed in the Museum. The Lydians exploited the Iron age from the Gyges period to the Croesus period between 685 to 547 BC. Almost all artefacts found in the Lydian period date back to the 6th century BC.

Antalya Museum

The Antalya Museum or the Antalya Archaeological Museum is one of the largest museums in Turkey. The Museum includes 13 exhibition halls and an open-air gallery. Coving an area of 75,000 sq feet, there are more than 5000 works of art in the museum exhibits. Additionally, there are more than 25000 artefacts that are not on display and are in storage. The Museum focuses on the history of the Mediterranean, and the Pamphylia regions of Antalya is one of the most important museums in Turkey.

After the end of the first world war, the Italians started to collect archaeological treasures that were found in the city of Antalya. To protect the rich history of the region from the Italian Embassy, Suleman Fikri Bey applied for the post of governor of Antalya and volunteered to be the curator of antiques leading to the establishment of the Antalya Museum. The Museum was first opened in 1922 in the Alaeddin Mosque and then in the YivliMinare Mosque. In 1982, the Turkish government looked into modern museum concepts and opened the Museum to the public in 1985 after a complete restoration of the building and proper display arrangements of all the ancient objects and artefacts in the Museum. The entire operation was covered by the General Directorate of Ancient Objects and Museums.

Halls and Exhibits

Natural History Hall shows the development and evolution of living creatures from humans to single-celled organisms. There are several fossils, bones, and pictures.

Pre-history Hall

This displays all the tools and artefacts found in the Karain caves from the Paleolithic age to the Roman Age.

Proto- History Hall

This hall exhibits all major artefacts from the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Early Bronze Age found in Hacilar.

Classic Period Hall

This hall exhibits all several artefacts found in the Mycenaean Age to the Hellenistic Age, including earthenware figurines, wine bowls, and dishes.

Statuary Hall

This exhibit is for statues from the 2nd and 3rd century AD of the Roman period. The list of statues includes the following mythological figures: Minerva, Zeus, Artemis, Harpocrates, Aphrodite, Asclepius, Tyche, Meleager, Hecate, Hermes, and Marsyas.

Hall of Imperial Status

The Hall of Imperial statues includes all several figurines found from the excavation of Perge. In the centre of the room is a large statue of Plancia Magna, a great administrator who contributed much towards the development of Perge. Other statues and figurines in the exhibit include statues of Emperor Hadrian, Emperor SeptimusSeverius and his wife, the co-emperor of Rome Lucius Verus, the emperor Trajan, the emperor Caracalla and the king Alexander the Great.

Sarcophagus Hall

The Sarcophagus hall includes a wide collection of Sarcophagi from the roman period. The lost of sarcophagi present in the exhibit are the Heracles Sarcophagus, the Sarcophagus of Domitius Julianus and DomitaPhiliska, the Sarcophagus of Aurelia Botiane and Demetria, and the Dionysus Sarcophagus of the Attic Type

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Wrapping Up!

Turkey is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of culture and history. While several emperors ruled over the land, it offers a very hospitable ambience and allows you to relax on your holiday. If you are visiting turkey, look into Turkey Pool Villas for comfortable and affordable accommodations in all the provinces of turkey. So book with us today and enjoy your trip to Turkey.