Not many cities can match the archaeological heritage of Istanbul. The Istanbul Archaeological Museum is dedicated to that heritage. The complex in the first courtyard of Topkapi Palace actually consists of three museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Museum of Islamic Art. The museum was founded in 1891 by Osman Hamdi Bey in order to prevent the smuggling of antiquities out of Turkey.
All told there are more than one million objects in the museum's collection. Highlights include the Sidon sarcophagi. Found in the ancient Syrian city of Sidon, they represent a variety of ancient styles. The Alexander Sarcophagus features carvings of Alexander the Great's victories and was once believed to house the Macedonian king himself. The Istanbul Through the Ages exhibit, located on the second floor, it features maps, plans, and remains from throughout the city's rich history.
The Museum of the Ancient Orient features artifacts from around Turkey, Egypt, and the rest of the Middle East. All of the objects on display are from the first century AD and earlier. There are remains of a thirteenth century BC Hittite sphinx, as well as one of three known copies of the Treaty of Kadesh, the world's first peace treaty. The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art is located next door in the Tiled Kiosk. The building itself is a unique mix of Gothic revival and classical Turkish architecture. There is a large collection of calligraphy, carpets, and tiles.
These are three excellent museums. The displays are fascinating and have lots of historical significance. You could easily spend an entire day exploring everything.
Location: Topkapi Palace
Telephone: +90 0212 520 7740