12 Interesting Alternatives to Traditional Museums in Istanbul

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Istanbul is an amazing cultural mosaic because it has been the center of many states for centuries. You can see the minarets and synagogues rising just behind an Orthodox church with great harmony. With this rich background, the number of places to visit is also increasing. I will try to offer more alternative Istanbul museums and attractions, apart from the classical attractions to be seen (Dolmabahçe Palace, Hagia Sophia, etc.), and we will talk about very different places of interest in Istanbul today.

12 Interesting Alternatives to Traditional Museums in Istanbul
12 Interesting Alternatives to Traditional Museums in Istanbul

Museum of Innocence

The Museum of Innocence was founded by the famous and noble award-winning author Orhan Pamuk, inspired by a romance novel by the same name. The museum, which Orhan Pamuk brought to life in parallel with his novel, opened its doors in 2012. In the museum, the things used, worn, heard, seen, accumulated, and imagined by the heroes described in the novel are exhibited in a carefully arranged design. If you liked the novel, there is also a small shop in the museum where you can buy the characters’ items.

The Museum of Innocence in Istanbul

Istanbul Toy Museum

Countless toys from the 1700s to the present are on display at the Istanbul Toy Museum which is located on the Anatolian Side of Istanbul. Istanbul Toy Museum was established by famous author Sunay Akın in an attractive wooden mansion. Most of the toys are works that Sunay Akın has been collecting from many parts of the world since 1990. The interior design of the museum was designed in a way that is easy to navigate, catchy and instructive.

Istanbul Elgiz Contemporary Art Museum

Opened in 2001, Elgiz Contemporary Art Museum is Turkey’s first private contemporary art museum. It was founded by collector Sevda and Can Elgiz. The museum covers an area of ​​approximately 2 thousand square meters, besides the periodical exhibitions, the works of many Turkish and foreign artists and young artists are also exhibited.

Istanbul Naval Museum

Istanbul Naval Museum

The museum, which is affiliated with the Naval Forces Command, was first opened in a small building in the Kasımpaşa district of Istanbul in 1897 during the Ottoman Empire Period. It has been serving at its current location since 1961. Istanbul Naval Museum has the distinction of being both the largest and the first maritime museum in Turkey. There are more than 20 thousand pieces in the museum.

Rahmi Koc Museum

Rahmi Koc Museum, which was opened in 1994, is located in the Historical Hasköy Shipyard and spreads over an area of ​​27 thousand square meters. Rahmi Koc Museum embodies the cornerstones of Turkey’s progress in industry, communication, and technology. It has a collection of thousands of pieces consisting of maritime, aviation, railway vehicles, steam engines, toys, models, and models. In this respect, it has a special place among the museums in Istanbul.

Pelit Chocolate Museum

In Pelit Chocolate Museum, there are many structures such as villages built of chocolate, statues of famous people made out of chocolate, and of course chocolate fountains! The most important feature of these structures is that they are made only of chocolate. You can witness the entire manufacturing process by entering a glass tube located above the manufacturing area of the famous Pelit Chocolate of Turkey, as well as examine some old production materials of the Pelit brand. Inside this chocolate world, there is also a kitchenette set up for children to learn about pastry or at least get an idea. Here, children are given training and workshops on cake making.

Hagia Sophia model made out of chocolate in Pelit Chocolate Museum

Sakip Sabanci Museum

The calligraphy, beautiful handwriting, manuscripts of the Quran, and very valuable book collections that Sakıp Sabancı started to collect himself between 1933 and 2004 grew day by day and started to attract attention even from museums abroad. Many events, meetings, seminars, symposiums, and short-term exhibitions are held in the museum, where the collection, which has continued to grow and develop over the years, is exhibited. The museum, which is still active today, also prepares educational programs for children and adults.

Panorama 1453 History Museum

Panorama 1453 History Museum, which is about the Conquest of Istanbul, is not only the first panoramic museum in Turkey but also the only covered panoramic museum in the world.

Panorama 1453 History Museum

Jale Kushan Wax Sculpture Museum

One of the remarkable features of the Jale Kushan Wax Sculpture Museum is that some wax sculptures have been given the ability of movement. Wax statues of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Kanuni Sultan Süleyman, Osmangazi, Yavuz Sultan Selim and Fatih Sultan Mehmet, Fuzuli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rumi, Nazım Hikmet, İbn-i Sina, Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, Yunus Emre and Mimar Sinan, Elvis Presley, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson, Mikhail Gorbachev, Alparslan, Hürrem Sultan, Timur and many more famous names welcome the visitors.

Madame Tussauds Istanbul Wax Sculpture Museum

Madame Tussauds Istanbul Wax Sculpture Museum, which was opened in 2016, is known as the 21st branch of Madame Tussauds in the world. The biggest reason why the sculptures attract so much attention is that they have exactly the same dimensions as the people they were based on.

Hisart Live History and Diorama Museum

Hisart Live History and Diorama Museum

Hisart museum emerged as a result of the hobby of its founder Nejat Çuhadaroğlu, who started with collecting items and extended his hobby into museology. In the museum, where military and ethnographic historical artifacts from the 15th to 20th-century Ottoman period are exhibited, visitors can also be a part of workshops and academy works. Other important elements making Hisart Live History and Diorama Museum memorable are the dioramas and mannequins in the exhibition area.

Museum of Illusions in Istanbul

First of all, let me state that the Istanbul Illusion Museum is not like a classical museum. When visiting a museum, taking pictures or touching the artifacts is the last thing you would want. However, in the illusion museum, you can explore and touch everything, experience the illusion rooms, and have the opportunity to spend a different day in terms of visual and sensory aspects.

Museum of Illusions in Istanbul

Hire Tour Guide in Istanbul for Alternative Tours

I love to organize tailor-made itineraries for my guests which are mostly going the extra mile to offer some unique attractions. There are many more alternative attractions and alternative touring options in Istanbul than what this article can offer. Contact me to learn more about alternative itineraries in Istanbul and to hire a licensed professional tour guide in Istanbul. See you soon, Hasan Gülday.

Hasan Gülday

Hasan Gülday. Professional licensed tour guide working in Turkey.

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