If you're an art lover, you could spend years in Istanbul just visiting museums and galleries. From the intricate works of the Ottoman Empire to ultra modern mixed media pieces, Istanbul has it all; that's the beauty of our amazing and sophisticated city that combines the best of history and contemporary culture. Here are the five top art destinations that you don't want to miss while you're in Istanbul.
1. The Pera Museum
The Pera Museum offers a little something for everyone, from Oriental portraits, Ottoman relics, to traveling displays of modern artists like Picasso and Frida Kahlo. The Pera is easy to navigate as it's housed on several floors in a former Victorian hotel. This is a newer museum on the Istanbul art scene, but its well-curated eclecticism and reasonable size has made it a favorite.
2. Topkapi Palace
While also a top historical sight, Topkapi Palace shouldn't be ignored as an art destination. It houses some of the most beautiful and lavish examples of Islamic art anywhere in the world that is still in their original setting from the 15th Century. The architecture, decorative arts, and gems in the palace will leave you breathless. Be sure to buy a separate ticket to view the Harem with its exquisite decor.
3. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum
This complex, which is actually three museums, is located near the Topkapi Palace and worth a visit if you have an interest in ancient art. The Archaeology Museum is a must if you want to learn more about treasures that have been unearthed in Turkey. The Pavilion of Mehmet the Conqueror features a tile and ceramics collection. The Museum of the Ancient Orient offers many gorgeous exhibits as well.
4. The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art
Istanbul is a marvelous place for textile art, and The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art is considered to have one of the world's best collections of carpets. Wood carvings, ceramic art and calligraphy are also on display at this museum, which was once the palatial residence of İbrahim Paşa, in the court of Sultan Süleyman. For something different than most museums that are usually focused on paintings and sculpture, try this top art destination.
5. Istanbul Modern
Istanbul Modern is an enormous converted warehouse on the Bosphorus that has acquired a reputation as Istanbul's premier modern art gallery. It is influential enough that many smaller galleries have sprung up in the neighborhood around it. Be sure to check out their permanent exhibition on the history of Turkish modern art as well as their rotating schedule of international shows. A great bonus is the on-site restaurant with fabulous views of the Old City across the water.
Istanbul is also adorned with informal art. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the city's abundant street art, where you'll see rainbow painted stairs, world famous graffiti, and walls covered in trompe l'oeil.
Our Concierge Department at Hotel Büyük Keban can help you with directions and transportation to any of these art destinations. We can also make sure the location is open on the days you want to visit and help procure tickets to special exhibits. Once you've exhausted the spots on this list, we can suggest many more, for there is no end to the incredible art on displays in Istanbul. Contact us today, and we can get started on your art itinerary when we book your stay at our boutique hotel.