The origins of the museum go back to a small collection of antiques which was installed in the Topkapi Palace in 1846, and in 1869 it was converted into a museum in its own right.
In 1891 the Archaeological Museum opened its doors, and in doing so became the first museum in Turkey. It's found between the first courtyard of the Topkapi Palace and Gülhane Park.
The museum collection is divided into three parts:
- Archaeological Museums: These museums play host to some world-renowned objects, the most important of which is the large collection of sarcophagi, including the Alexander Sarcophagus from the 4th century.
- Collection of Oriental Art: In this section, you'll find ottoman tombs and findings from the Egyptian, Sumerian and Akkadian empires. The most valuable parts of this collection are the fragments of the Ishtar Gate.
- Ceramic and Jewel Collection: This collection can be found in the Tiled Pavillion, a building built under the orders of Mehmed II. This part of the museum has relatively few halls, therefore perhaps the most interesting part is the building itself.
With its major sarcophagus collection and an enormous collection of exhibits, the Archeological Museum is a delight for all lovers of antiques: the Alexander Sarcophagus and the Meleager Sarcophagus are breathtaking.
If one was to choose a negative to the museum, it would be its upkeep, with some of the halls seeming somewhat forgotten, and the upper floors not being as interesting as the rest of the museum.