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At a glance: Cornucopia’s Ultimate Guide to Istanbul Museums

Cornucopia celebrated its 60th issue with a special issue devoted to Istanbul museums. Here we offer the urbane armchair traveller the guide in a nutshell, plus museums that got away…





In the core of Istanbul, all within ten minutes' walk of the ancient Hippodrome and Sultanahmet, are Istanbul's four major historic sites, the Topkapı, Ayasofya, the family of Istanbul Archaeological Museums and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, plus gems such as the Carpet Museum and the Museum of the Great Palace Mosaics. Take the tram two stops either way from Sultanahmet to find the oldest grand hamam, literary museums, and the sumptuous Sultan's Lodge

1 Topkapı Palace
The residence of sultans and administrative centre of the state, Topkapı Palace would eventually dwindle in importance, but for 400 years the site remained the most powerful yet enigmatic in Europe.
Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi
Summer 9–7, winter 9–5, closed Tues
+90 212 512 0480

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2 Ayairini Haghia Irene (Ayairini), Justinian’s 6th-century Church of Holy Peace, in the outer courtyard of the Topkapı. You can now buy a ticket to wander its cavernous spaces, but the best way to experience it is to go to a concert (for tickets, Ayairini Müzesi Topkapı Palace (outer courtyard) Wed-Mon 9–4 Tram: Gülhane or Sultanahmet +90 212 512 0480

3,4,5 The Istanbul Archaeological Museums Three fantastic museums surround what was once a playing field for the javelin game of jereed: the Çinili Kiosk, built by Mehmed the Conqueror in the 1470s, now a tile museum; the Museum of the Ancient East; and the main Archaeological Museum. İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri The Museum of the Ancient Orient The Tiled Kiosk Gülhane Parkı All three museums: summer 9–7, winter 9–5, closed Mon Tram: Gülhane +90 212 520 7740

In and around Ayasofya

6 Ayasofya Museum Originally known as the Church of the Holy Wisdom (or Megale Ekklesia, Great Church), Ayasfoya was the greatest and most daring achievement of Byzantine architecture. Rebuilt in 532–37 under Justinian I, it is today the most famous monument in Istanbul, as well as one of the largest vaulted structures to survive from antiquity. Ayasofya Müzesi Sultanahmet Winter 9–4, summer 9–6, Closed Mon in winter Tram: Sultanahmet +90 212 522 1750

7 The Mausoleum of Selim II No tour of Ayasofya is complete without a visit to the beautiful domed mausoleum of Selim II in its precincts. Reached from the street at the back of the basilica, it has the merits of being free to enter and free of crowds. Tues–Sun 9–4 Tram: Sultanahmet +90 212 522 1750

8 The Carpet Museum One of the Old City’s great secrets is the Carpet Museum in the imaret (charitable kitchens) of Ayasofya, reached through an imposing domed gate (right and below) opposite the Ahmed III Fountain. Its three rooms show a more dynamic, less conservative view of the nation’s textile heritage than the nearby Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Halı Müzesi Bab–ı Hümayün Cad 2/1, Sultanahmet. Summer 9–5, winter 9–4, closed Mon +90 212 512 6993

9 Yerebatan Sarayı Everyone loves the 6th-century Yerebatan Sarayı, also known as the Basilica Cistern, with its ranks of marble columns rising out of the water, its iconic moment in From Russia with Love, its coloured lights, New Age music, slippery floors, and that constant drip, drip, drip. Yerebatan Sarnıcı Yerebatan Cad 1/3, Sultanahmet Summer 9-6.30, winter 9–5.30 Tram: Sultanahmet +90 212 512 1570

The Hippodrome and beyond

10 Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts Across the Hippodrome from the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii), the residence of Süleyman the Magnificent’s grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha is now an important museum. The vizier’s audience room acts as a display area for wonderful Seljuk and Ottoman mosque carpets, some vast, some dating back to the 13th century. Türk-İslam Eserleri Müzesi Atmeydanı, Sultanahmet Winter 9-7, summer 9–5, closed Mon +90 212 518 1805

Arasta Bazaar 11 Museum of the Great Palace Mosaics Preserved in this humble museum behind the Blue Mosque and beneath the city’s most elegant bazaar are floor mosaics from the Great Palace of the Byzantine emperors, which once sprawled down the hillside between the Hippodrome and the Sea of Marmara. Büyük Saray Mozaikler Müzesi Arasta Bazaar, Sultanahmet Summer 9–7, winter 9-5 closed Mon Tram: Sultanahmet +90 212 518 1205 (look for ‘Mosaic Museum’)

Çemberlitaş 13 Yahya Kemal Museum For a moment of bookish quiet after the palaver of the Grand Bazaar, head to the Yahya Kemal Museum in the courtyard of the Kara Mustafa Paşa Medresesi. Born in Skopje, Macedonia, to a prominent Ottoman family, Yahya Kemal became a student of French Romantic poetry while exiled in Paris for his opposition to Sultan Abdülhamid II. By the time the Republic was inaugurated in 1923, he had established himself as the pre-eminent poetic voice of the nascent Turkish nation. Yahya Kemal Müzesi Kara Mustafa Paşa Medresesi, Yeniçeriler Cad 43, Beyazıt Mon–Fri 10–4 Tram: Çemberlitaş or Beyazıt +90 212 638 6145

12 Cumhuriyet Museum and Art Gallery Fans of packaging and graphics will enjoy a two- room homage to the father of Turkish graphics, İhap Hulusi Görey, at the end of the Hippodrome. The museum occupies a wing of the Art Nouveau Rector’s Building of Marmara University. Marmara Üniversitesi Cumhuriyet Müzesi Atmeydanı, Sultanahmet Tues–Sun 10–5 Tram: Sultanahmet +90 212 518 1600 cumhuriyetmuzesi.

Beyazıt 14 Beyazıt II Museum of Hamam Culture This early-16th-century Turkish bath reopened as a museum in 2015. Easily reached from Beyazıt Square (two tram stops from Sultanahmet), the huge building is dwarfed by Istanbul University’s even huger Faculty of Letters. It is known locally as the Patrona Halil Hamam, after a rebellious Albanian who worked as an attendant here when he was dismissed as a Janissary, and led the 1730 uprising that ended the Tulip Period. II. Beyazıt Türk Hamam Kültürü Müzesi Derviş Mehmed Sok, Vezneciler, Beyazıt Tues–Sun 9.30–4.30 Metro: Vezneciler, Tram: Laleli +90 212 440 0000 (ext 16120/1) turkhamamkulturu.

Around the Spice Bazaar

Eminönü 15 The Sultan’s Lodge at the Yeni Cami While the nearby Rüstem Pasha Mosque with its profusion of 16th-century Iznik tiles is closed for restoration, this is a great place for your Iznik fix, or simply a reprieve from the clamour of Eminönü. Yeni Camii Hünkar Kasrı Eminönü Daily 10-6 Tram or Ferry: Eminönü

Eminönü 16 İşbank Museum The former bank building, with its dramatic marble staircase and characteristic glass roof, still has smart brass and polished wood counters and, downstairs, the magnificent old vaults and safe-deposit boxes. Exhibits upstairs explain the history of İşbank, Turkey’s first public bank, created under Atatürk. İş Bankası Müzesi Bankacılar Cad 2, Eminönü Daily 10–6, closed Mon Tram: Eminönü, Ferry: Eminönü +90 212 511 1331

Eminönü 17 Postal Museum For fans of the architect Vedat Tek (1873–1942), the museum in the 1909 central post office is an excuse to gaze at the late- Ottoman building’s elegant curves and angles. One can see the telephone on which Turkey’s first phone call was made, in 1911, one learns that postmen were called Tatarlar (Tatars) and were sometimes armed – and that during the occupation years, each occupying power had its own postbox. PTT Istanbul Müzesi Büyük Postane Cad, Bahçekapı, Eminönü Mon–Fri 8.30–5.30 (closed 12.30–1.30) Tram: Sirkeci, Ferry: Eminönü +90 212 520 9037

Gülhane 18 Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar Literary Museum After a brief spell as a wedding registry office, the building is now the city’s most elegant library, with original trompe-l’oeil niches. Inside, as well as books, cabinets display the spectacles and typewriters of Turkish literary lions. Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Edebiyat Müze Kütüphanesi Alay Köşkü, Gülhane Park Mon–Sat 8.30–8.30 Tram: Gülhane +90 212 520 2081

Sirkeci 19 Istanbul Railway Museum Modern art critics might describe Sirkeci Station as “a hybrid space”: trains sit at platforms behind fences, locals rush to the Marmaray metro line, and the Orient Express Restaurant serves up nostalgia to visitors in a high-ceilinged room. TCDD İstanbul Demiryolu Müzesi Tues–Sat 9–5 (closed 12.30–1) Tram and metro (Marmaray): Sirkeci, Ferry: Eminönü +90 216 348 8020, ext 7885 (look for ‘museums’)

Relics of Byzantium

Edirnekapı 20 Kariye Museum The product of a major overhaul by the scholar and prime minister Theodore Metochites c1321, the church’s decorative programme bristles with elegance, intelligence and fascinating juxtapositions. Kariye Müzesi Edirnekapı Winter 9-4.30, summer 9–6 +90 212 631 9241

Edirnekapı 21 Tekfur Sarayı Museum
From the Kariye, move swiftly on to the nearby Land Walls, where it is surprising to find the Italianate Tekfur Sarayı surviving from the 14th century. It is the last building left of the great citadel palace of Blachernae ordered by Michael VIII Palaiologos (1282–1328). Tekfur Saray Müzesi Edirnekapı Daily 9–6

The European City

Galata Tower The Genoese finished building this 67-metre “Tower of Christ” in 1348, and it continues to remind visitors of their once-great maritime republic. The railed observation deck provides the archetypal 360-degree Istanbul experience and an ideal starting point from which to explore the city. Galata Kulesi Galata Daily 9–8.30 Metro: Şişhane Restaurant, open till 10 +90 212 293 81 80

Tepebaşı 22 Pera Museum The Pera opened in 2005, in the husk of the former Bristol Hotel, to house the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation’s notable collection of Ottoman and Orientalist paintings, particularly works by Osman Hamdi Bey. Temporary shows have ranged from Goya to Warhol and hard-hitting contemporary Turkish. Pera Müzesi Meşrutiyet Cad 65, Tepebaşı Daily 10–7, Sun 12–6, closed Mon +90 212 334 9900

Dolapdere 23 Arter In the depths of Dolapdere (a short shuttle ride from the Pera Museum), Istanbul’s newest contemporary art museum is pharaonic in scale (writes Thomas Roueché). The institution’s bleeding-edge collection and sharp white galleries invite comparison to the great international museums: here, finally, is Istanbul’s MoMA or Tate Modern, an institution with the clout to engage with its public on an international, not merely a local level. Arter Irmak Cad 13, Dolapdere Tues–Sun 11–7, Thurs 11–8, first Sat of the month 11–12 Metro: Osmanbey or Taksim, then a 15-minute walk. Shuttle services to and from Pera Museum and Taksim metro (Gezi Park exit) +90 212 708 5800

Tünel 24 Galata Mevlevi Lodge Museum Quite apart from its elegantly presented content and stunning octagonal semahane (ceremonial hall), the garden of this former dervish lodge is one of Galata’s best-kept secrets, a tranquil pool at the top of the cascade of grot shops that is Galip Dede Caddesi. Galata Mevlevihanesi Galipdede Cad 1, Tünel April–Sep 9–7, Oct–Mar 9–5 closed on Mondays Ritual dervish whirling (‘sema’) on Sundays at 5: tickets available from the museum the day before Metro: Şişhane or Tünel +90 212 245 4141 (look for ‘Galata’)

Tünel 25 Meşher Towards the quieter end of İstiklâl Caddesi, in a historic apartment block, the old Arter has recently been rebranded as Meşher (“exhibition space”). Using its large window as a lure to shoppers, office workers and the local after-school crowd, it attracts visitors who might not otherwise have entered a gallery. Who can forget Marc Quinn’s inviting bronze conch shell, which for months brightened up the street? Meşher İstiklâl Cad 211, Beyoğlu Tues–Sun 11–7 (Fri 11–8) Metro: Şişhane or Tünel +90 212 708 5900

Tepebaşı 26 Istanbul Research Institute In a 19th-century building by the Italian architect Guglielmo Semprini, the sister institute of the Pera Museum houses a superb collection of books and photographs, and stages in-depth documentary exhibitions on everything from street dogs to forgotten architects. İstanbul Araştırmaları Enstitüsü Meşrutiyet Cad 47, Tepebaşı Mon–Fri 9–5.30 (Wed 9–8), Sat 10.30–5 +90 212 334 0900,

Galatasaray 27 Galatasaray Museum A handsome former post office opposite Galatasaray Lycée houses a museum of two halves. The upper floor tells the story of the famous football club, the lower floor tells the story of the school, in splendidly renovated rooms. Galatasaray Üniversitesi Kültür ve Sanat Merkezi İstiklâl Cad 90, Beyoğlu Tues–Sun 10–6 Metro: Şişhane or Taksim +90 212 293 49 86

Galatasaray 28 Yapı Kredi Cultural Centre Originally designed by Paul Schmitthenner, one of Hitler’s architects, the transformed former bank building pairs an eye- catching glass front with İlhan Koman’s iconic open-armed sculpture Akdeniz (Mediterranean). Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat İstiklâl Cad 161, Beyoğlu Mon-Fri 10–6.45, Sat 11–6.45, Sun 1–6.45 +90 212 252 4700

Galatasaray 29 SALT Beyoğlu Expect superb shows in SALT’s Beyoğlu branch, a palazzo with three floors of gallery space, a walk-in art cinema and English- language bookshop. SALT Beyoğlu İstiklâl Cad 136, Beyoğlu Tues–Sat 12–8, Sun 12–6 +90 212 377 4200

Çukurcuma 30 Museum of Innocence Part companion to Orhan Pamuk’s eponymous novel, part homage to everyday life in the late 1970s of the author’s youth, the museum guides visitors through a series of evocative vignettes curated from minor objects too old to be rubbish and too young to be antiques. Masumiyet Müzesi Dalgıç Çıkmazı 2, Firuzağa, Beyoğlu Tues–Sun 10–6 (Thurs 10–8) Tram: Tophane, Metro: Şişhane or Taksim +90 212 252 9738

Galatasaray 31 TÜRVAK Film and Theatre Museum The Türvak Museum, Istanbul’s Theatre and Film Museum, on four floors of a building just below the Galatasaray Lycée, is more of a homage to one man, Türker İnanoğlu, the father of Turkish cinema, than a museum. TÜRVAK Sinema-Tiyatro Müzesi Yeniçarşı Cad 24, Galatasaray Tues–Sun 10–6 Metro: Taksim or Şişhane +90 212 245 8091

Karaköy 32 SALT Galata The cultural institution SALT was founded by Garanti Bank, which, in 1996, bought the remains and archives of the former Ottoman Bank and set up home at its splendid HQ on Bankalar Caddesi, a short walk up from Karaköy. SALT Galata Bankalar Cad 11, Karaköy Tues–Sat 12–8, Sun 12-6 Tram: Karaköy +90 212 334 2200

Şişhane 33 Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews The Jewish Museum has moved from Karaköy to Şişhane’s Neve Shalom Synagogue. Panels explain how German Jews fled Nazi Germany for Turkey. A letter from Albert Einstein to “The President of the Turkish Republic” asks for “forty professors and doctors from Germany” to be allowed to “continue their scientific and medical work in Turkey”. 500. Yıl Vakfı Türk Musevileri Müzesi Neve Shalom Synagogue, Büyük Hendek Cad 61, Şişhane Mon–Thurs, Sun 10–5, Fri 10-1, closed Sat Metro: Şişhane or Tünel +90 212 292 6333/34

Tophane 34 Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture A former shipping warehouse eight years in redevelopment reopened in time to provide a third venue for the 2019 Biennial. The waterfront building now provides a 17,700-square-metre home for the art and sculpture collections of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Istanbul Resim Heykel Müzesi Meclis-i Mebusan Cad, Antrepo 5, Tophane Scheduled to open late 2020 Tram: Tophane

Şişhane 35 Istanbul Modern When Istanbul’s first museum of modern art opened in 2004, in a former customs warehouse in Karaköy, it provided a hub for the Biennial and proved a catalyst for an explosion of private galleries in a boom decade for modern art. In 2018 it moved to the historic Union Française building on Meşrutiyet Caddesi, pending the completion of new premises by Renzo Piano on the site of its original home, due to open in 2021. Istanbul Modern Meşrutiyet Cad 99, Beyoğlu Tues–Sat 10–6 (Thurs 10–8), Sun 11-6 Metro: Şişhane +90 212 334 7300

Dolapdere 36 Adam Mickiewicz Museum This museum, in a corner of Dolapdere, conveniently close to Arter, celebrates the Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz, “the Slavic bard”. Adam Mickiewicz Müzesi Tatlı Badem Cad 10, Dolapdere Tues–Sat 9–4.30 Metro: Taksim, then a 10-minute walk +90 212 237 2545

Tepebaşı 37 Atatürk Museum at the Pera Palace Hotel The Pera Palace greeted travellers off the Orient Express to a fin-de-siècle spectacle of porphyry and marble. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk first stayed at the hotel in 1917; room 101 is open in his honour with a display of his effects that preserves a sense of Turkey’s founder. Pera Palace Hotel Meşrutiyet Cad 52, Tepebaşı Daily 10–11, 3–4 +90 212 377 4000

Tarlabaşı 38 Doğançay Museum The Doğançay Museum looks like a Manhattan townhouse, complete with spiral fire escape on the front, and prostitutes hanging around outside. Inside, the paintings of Burhan Doğançay, who died in 2013, fill four brightly lit and slightly sterile floors of gallery space. Balo Sokak 42, Beyoğlu Tues–Sun 10–6 Metro: Taksim +90 212 244 7770/71

Hasköy 39 Aynalıkavak Kasrı The early 18th century was the heyday of the Pavilion of the Mirrored Poplar (perhaps a reference to the tree’s shimmering leaves), though an imperial palace had stood here long before that – a palace very much in the vein of the Topkapı, with clusters of pavilions dropping down to the shore. Aynalıkavak Kasrı Tues–Sun 9–5 Ferry: Hasköy, then taxi, minibus or 10-min walk +90 212 256 9750

Hasköy 40 Rahmi M Koç Museum of Technology If you take the ferry, you will know you have arrived at this magnificent museum when you see a submarine and an old ferry moored on the Golden Horn. When you visit, allow at least half a day (and time for a long lunch). Rahmi M Koç Müzesi Hasköy Cad 5, Hasköy Tues–Sun 10–5 (April-Sept 10-7) Ferry: Hasköy +90 212 369 6600

Kağıthane 41 The Museum of Energy at Santralistanbul Istanbul’s answer to Tate Modern, the Silahtarağa Electricity Plant, built in 1911, now Santralistanbul, became a hubbub of contemporary art and wining and dining when it opened in 2007. It is still a busy campus of Bilgi University (and you will need ID to get in), but the once-vibrant events calendar has fallen quiet. Santralistanbul Eski Silahtarağa Elektrik Santralı, Bilgi Universitesi, Eyüp Daily 9–6 (ID required) Ferry: Sütlüce, then a taxi

A proud new world

Kağıthane 42 Dolmabahçe Palace Dolmabahçe means literally the “infilled garden”, and it is that very garden, rather than the modern Baroque interior of the palace itself, that merits a detour. Dolmabahçe Sarayı Tues–Sun 9–4 Ferry: Beşiktaş +90 212 236 9000

Beşiktaş 43 The Museum of the Palace Paintings Atatürk opened the first museum of Western art here, a national gallery in all but name, in 1937. The Museum of Painting and Sculpture, a haunt for those nostalgic for old Istanbul, closed after the 1999 earthquake, though the collection will go on view in a new museum in 2020. Dolmabahçe Saray Resimleri Müzesi Beşiktaş Tues–Sun, 9–5 Ferry: Beşiktaşüzesi

Beşiktaş 44 The Naval Museum Among the countless model ships in the old 1930s museum, many tell poignant stories, such as a warship built in Newcastle, paid for by public subscription in Turkey, but never delivered. Deniz Müzesi Beşiktaş Tue–Sun 9–5, Sun 10-6 Ferry: Beşiktaş +90 212 327 4345;

Beşiktaş 45 Fire Brigade Museum Fires used to be such a feature of Istanbul life that firemen and their tulumbas (water pumps) appeared on postcards. Here you will see the city’s first (German) motorised water pump, and paintings and photos of notable fires – including those of Galata and Beşiktaş in 1935, and a conflagration on a boat off Bebek in the 1990s. Kont Szecheny İtfaiye Müzesi Horoz Sok 1, Beşiktaş; Mon–Fri 9–4.30 Ferry: Beşiktaş +90 212 259 9124

Ihlamur 46 Ihlamur Kasrı Set in an oasis of lovely gardens, home to peacocks (even one albino), ginkgo trees and the lindens from which this miniature marble palace takes its name, Ihlamur was Sultan Abdülmecid’s favourite maison de plaisance, and is the perfect Baroque hit for anyone daunted by the queues and bombast of Dolmabahçe. Ihlamur Kasrı Ihlamur, Beşiktaş Tues–Sun 9–4.30 Taxi ride or a 15-min walk from Beşiktaş or Nişantaşı +90 212 259 5086

Nişantaşı 47 Military Museum The vast, quaint Military Museum offers snapshots of fascinating episodes in Turkish history. Its galleries cover the broad sweep of military exploits – from the initial drive west of the Turkic peoples to the Dardanelles campaign. Harbiye Askeri Müzesi Valikonağı Cad, Harbiye Wed–Sun 9–4.30 Metro: Osmanbey +90 212 233 2720

Bomonti 48 Ara Güler Museum Without the Magnum photojournalist Ara Güler (above), the golden age of post-World War II Istanbul would have been lost for ever. But the canny fellow not only captured the humanity of the age, he made sure that his legacy would survive. Ara Güler Müzesi Tarihi Bomonti Bira Fabrikası, Bomonti, Şişli Tues–Sat 10–6, Sun 12–6 Metro: Osmanbey +90 212 335 9595

Bosphorus beauties

Emirgan 49 Sakıp Sabancı Museum The Sakıp Sabancı is set in meticulously kept gardens with a view of the Bosphorus that is hard to forget. The tireless director, Nazan Ölçer, concentrates on blockbusters: Picasso, Monet, Joan Miró and Genghis Khan have all landed here, as well as stunning but less obvious collections from Poland and the Louvre. Sakıp Sabancı Müzesi Sakıp Sabancı Cad, Emirgan Tues–Sun 10–6 (Wed 10–8) Metro: ITÜ or Boğazici Üniversitesi, then a taxi Ferry: Emirgan +90 212 277 2200

Büyükdere 50 Sadberk Hanım Museum This wooden yalı houses the exceptional Vehbi Koç collection of late Ottoman costumes, important Chinese porcelain and a still-growing hoard of Iznik pottery. Sadberk Hanım Müzesi Büyükdere, Piyasa Cad 27, Sarıyer Daily 10–5, closed Wed Ferry: Büyükdere, Metro: Hacıosman then a taxi +90 212 242 3813

Büyükdere 51 Josephine Powell Kilim Collection Josephine Powell, redoubtable nomad follower, kilim collector and chain- smoker, left her precious collection to the Vehbi Koç Foundation, which shows them in the founder’s summer house. Vehbi Koç Büyükdere Evi Büyükdere, Piyasa Cad 109, Sarıyer Daily 10–5, closed Wed Metro: Hacıosman, Ferry: Büyükdere or Sarıyer

Rumelihisarı 52 Borusan Contemporary The Borusan corporation keeps its art collection in the Perili Köşk, its turreted red-brick headquarters on the Bosphorus. Borusan Contemporary Perili Koşk, Hisar Cad 5, Rumelihisarı Sat and Sun 10–7 +90 212 393 5200

Rumelihisarı 53 Aşıyan Museum Reached via a steep climb from the shores of the Bosphorus between Bebek and Rumelihisarı, this well- preserved house was built by the poet Tevfik Fikret. Its name, Aşıyan, is Farsi for bird’s nest. Aşıyan Müzesi Aşıyan Yokuşu, Rumelihisarı Tues-Sun 9–4, closed Mon Bus stop: Aşıyan, then a steep 10-min walk +90 212 263 6986,

Rumelihisarı 54 Rumeli Hisarı Reputedly built in less than four months in 1452, the European shore’s first Ottoman structure remains blessedly unfreighted with patriotic narratives or grand flourishes. Rumeli Hisarı Müzesi Rumelihisarı April–Sept 9–7, Oct–March 9–5, closed Wed

Rumelihisarı 55 Bosphorus University Cultural Heritage Museum One of the attractive New England-style wooden houses sprinkled around the woods of this hilltop campus behind the towers of Rumelihisarı was home to Alexander Van Millingen (1840–1915), whose guidebooks to the city were for a long time the standard works. Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Rumelihisarı Mon–Fri 10–4, by appt only: for contact details see Metro: Boğazici Üniversitesi Ferry: Bebek or Emirgan, then a 10-min taxi ride

Maslak 56 Elgiz Museum Unknown to the broader public but respected by international collectors, the city’s oldest non-profit space for contemporary art hides away in a plaza in Maslak. Set up by Sevda and Can Elgiz in 2001 with the help of art-world doyen Vasıf Kortun, it displays temporary exhibitions alongside selections from the founders’ personal collection, including art by Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George, Thomas Streuth, Mehmet Gün and Fahrelnissa Zeid. Elgiz Museum Beybi Giz Plaza, Maslak Wed–Fri 10–5, Sat and Sun 10–4, Tues by appt Metro: Maslak +90 212 290 2525

Maslak 57 Maslak Kasırları One of the virtues of this unassuming imperial residence is to make you forget you’re in Maslak at all. Banished by his uncle from a mansion in Tarabya for being overly fond of sailing, the Şehzade Abdülhamid, the 19-year- old prince, is said to have devoted his energies here to reading, playing and composing music, breeding sheep and cattle, gardening and studying horticulture. Maslak Kasırları Büyükdere Cad, Maslak Tues–Sun 9–5 Metro: Atatürk Oto Sanayi (follow the “Orduevi” exit) +90 212 346 1907

Yeniköy 58 Ural Ataman Classic Automobile Museum A museum devoted to a father and daughter’s shared passion for gas guzzlers, Ural and Ayşe Ataman’s Brylcreem-slick showroom, hidden in a humdrum hilltop district of Yeniköy, displays some 60 shiny beasts. First up is “the Hot One”, the 1959 Chevrolet Impala convertible, which brought in the era-defining tail fins. Ural Ataman Klasik Otomobil Müzesi Nuri Paşa Cad 81, Ferahevler Mah, Yeniköy Sat only 11–6 Metro: Hacıosman, then taxi Ferry: İstinye, then bus 29D or the Ferahevleri dolmuş (a taxi might be simpler) +90 212 299 4539

The sultans’ summer palaces

Beylerbeyi 59 Beylerbeyi Palace A modest servants’ door lets you into the grounds of a palace second only to Dolmabahçe in scale. Agreeably free of crowds, the interior will delight lovers of late-Ottoman flamboyance. Beylerbeyi Sarayı Tues–Sun 9–5 Ferry: Beylerbeyi +90 216 321 9320

Anadoluhisarı 60 Kücüksu Kasrı “Nothing is allowed to rest uncarved,” wrote Godfrey Goodwin of the Balyans, the family of builder- architects who built most of the great 19th-century palaces of the Bosphorus. Nikoğos Balyan completed Küçüksu for Abdülmecid in 1857, a year after Ihlamur. Küçüksu Kasrı Anadoluhisarı Tues–Sun 9–5 Ferry: Anadoluhisarı +90 216 332 3303

Beykoz 61 Beykoz Kasrı The Egyptian khedive Kavalalı Mehmed Ali Pasha ordered the summer palace at Beykoz in 1845 as a gift for Abdülmecid. He had nearly usurped the Sultan in 1833, only the appearance of a Russian fleet saving the day. Beykoz Mecidiye Kasrı Beykoz Tues–Sun 9–5 Ferry: Beykoz +90 212 236 9000

Üsküdar 62 Istanbul Kite Museum An extended storefront in an obscure backstreet is filled with colourful kites from all over the world – a delicious surprise. Mehmet Naci Aköz Uçurtma Müzesi Bakıcı Sok 12, Üsküdar Mon–Sat 9.30–5, by appt only +90 216 533 2337

Moda 63 Barış Manço House Museum The older generation may know it as the Whittall mansion after the British Levantine family who lived there, writes Malika Browne, but most Turkish children of the ’80s know its address by heart, as the home of singer Barış Manço. Barış Manço Evi Yusuf Kamil Paşa Sok 5, Moda, Kadıköy Tues–Sun 9–5 Ferry: Kadıköy, then tram or taxi to Moda İskelesi +90 216 337 9413

Çamlıca 64 IMOGA (Istanbul Museum of Graphic Arts) Here’s the private collection of graphic artist Süleyman Saim Tekcan, three marvellous storeys of 20th-century, mainly Turkish artists’ prints and sculptures, including the ancient machines they were made on. İstanbul Grafik Sanatlar Müzesi Keban Cad 20, Ünalan, Üsküdar Tues–Sat 9–12, 1–6 +90 216 472 9296

Göztepe 65 Istanbul Toy Museum This is a great and totally weird museum. Though it seems out of the way, it’s not terribly hard to get to by dolmuş or by metro. Founded by Sunay Akın, an author and poet, in 2005, the collection contains toys from all over the world, but mainly Turkey, Europe and America, from the 1700s to the present day. İstanbul Oyuncak Müzesi Ömerpaşa Cad, Dr Zeki Zeren Sok 17, Göztepe Tues–Sun 9–6 Metro (Marmaray): Erenköy, then a 10-minute walk +90 216 359 4550/51

Ataşehir 66 Nezahat Göyiğit Botanical Gardens Several miles inland, in the rapidly burgeoning suburb of Ataşehir, lies the world’s most unlikely botanical garden, writes David Wheeler. Occupying a 120-acre site that straddles a motorway junction, it is the vision of Nihat Gökyiğit – social entrepreneur, conservationist, and former chairman of the Tekfen group – and a memorial to his late wife. Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanik Bahçesi Ataşehir, Kadıköy Opens 9.30. Go by car or taxi and check website for closing times and available entrance gate +90 216 456 4437

Heybeliada 67 İsmet İnönü’s House Apart from the Treaty of Lausanne, İsmet Inönü’s greatest feat of negotiation surely came in 1934, when he got the seller of this Greek mansion down from 25,000 lira (furnished) to 9,500 lira (unfurnished). A short walk uphill from the pier, the museum conjures up an image of one of Turkey’s great statesmen spending time away from the limelight, swimming with the locals, dining with his family or finding diversion in a German-language chess magazine. İsmet İnönü Evi Refah Şehitleri Cad 67, Heybeliada Tues–Sun 10–5 Ferry: Heybeliada +90 216 351 8449

Burgazada 68 Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum The house of one of Turkey’s best-loved writers, a collection of whose stories was recently translated as A Useless Man, is full of belongings, manuscripts, photographs and letters. Sait Faik Abasıyanık Müzesi Çayır Sok 15, Burgazada Wed–Sun 10.30–5 Ferry: Burgazada +90 216 381 2060

Bakırköy 69 Hilmi Nakipoğlu Camera Museum Museum obsessives and cameraphiles can join photography students, local school tours and lawyers on breaks from the nearby courthouse at this charming collector’s museum in Bakırköy. Hilmi Nakipoğlu Fotoğraf Müzesi Nefus Nakipoğlu Zihinsel Özürlüler Okulu, İncirli Sok 18, Bakırköy Mon–Fri 9–5 Metro: Bakırköy +90 212 543 0920

Yeşilköy 70 Istanbul Aviation Museum In the old days, as you studied the outdoor exhibits here, the busy Atatürk International Airport nearby provided low-flying aircraft and jet fumes to bring it all to life. Alas no longer. While the original wooden airport building is now at the Rami Koç Museum on the Golden Horn, this museum shows a large selection of impressive aircraft. İstanbul Hava Müzesi Eski Havaalanı Cad, Yeşilköy Tues–Fri 9–4, weekends 10–6, closed Mon Metro: Yeşilköy +90 212 663 2490

Florya 71 Atatürk’s Sea Pavilion Beyond the late lamented Atatürk Airport in Florya, and a few metres out to sea at the end of its own pier, is the spectacularly photogenic Corbusier- inspired Atatürk Sea Pavilion. Florya Atatürk Deniz Köşkü Istanbul Cad, Florya Tues–Sun 9–5 Metro (Marmaray): Florya +90 212 426 5151

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
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