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The Rahmi M. Koç Museum

Piri Paşa Mh. Kumbarhane Cad. No: 2, 34445 Beyoğlu/Istanbul, Turkey

Open Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm, weekends 10am-7pm. Museum and restaurants closed Mondays.


Istanbul’s hands-on science and technology museum is the product of the passion of one man, Rahmi Koç, Turkey’s foremost industrialist. It is housed, suitably enough, in a former Byzantine structure appropriated by the Ottoman navy as an anchor foundry. Inside is an eclectic and ever-expanding collection, all of inimitable charm. Recent additions include a 93-metre submarine (for which Mr Koç has to pay an annual parking fee) and a whole phalanx of superbly restored motor cars – though without a Morgan, the finest handmade sports car, it is like a stamp collection without a Penny Black. The museum offers push-the-button displays, the chance to sit at the controls of a plane, and interactive displays and experiments designed to appeal to young visitors. There are instructors, too, to give them a hand, although something about the ensemble of gadgetry suggests that, like a really good model train-set, it is far too serious to be enjoyed by children. The train-set here is the actual railway carriage used by Sultan Abdülaziz. There are also royal carriages on loan from the Topkapı which have been beautifully restored. Among the eccentric exhibits are the chronometer used by the journalist-explorer Henry Morton Stanley, and a Chinese waxwork of Mr Koç himself. Outside, a Douglas DC-3 Dakota hovers in mid-air, and traffic totally fails to stop at the English zebra crossing, complete with mock Belisha beacon, in front of the building. Food plays an important role in the museum, and the dining goes on once the exhibitions have shut. As well as the museum café with its collection of antique teapots, there is an English pub and a fancy restaurant, the Halat, serving Mediterranean food. There is also a decent French brasserie that is breathtakingly authentic in its decor – from the chaud and froid taps in the bathrooms and the cutlery on the table, to the Gallic chefs in the kitchens. If you ever wondered what a seriously wealthy man does about takeaway food, the answer is here: he takes the restaurant home with him. - Andrew Finkel


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