Celebrating the long history of the Turkish military, the Military Museum (Asker Muzesi) displays thousands of pieces of military paraphernalia in the First Army Headquarters building. There are weapons from Islamic, Iranian, Caucasian, European, and Turkish periods, and exhibitions about WWI and the Turkish War of Independence.
Originally opened in the Saint Irene Church (Hagia Irene) before being relocated to the site of the Ottoman Imperial Military Academy, the Military Museum presents 1000 years of Turkish military might. Turkey’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, studied here when it was a military college, and there is an exhibition room dedicated to his legacy. An Ottoman military band performs 20-minute concerts at 3pm and 4pm daily.
It’s easy to combine small-group and private tours that pass through Taksim Square with a visit to the Military Museum, which is located in the nearby neighborhood of Harbiye.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Military Museum is ideal for enthusiasts of military or World War I history.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be on your feet while exploring the museum.
- Photography is allowed at the museum.
- The museum is handicap accessible.
How to Get There
The Military Museum is in Istanbul’s Harbiye neighborhood, a 20-minute walk or short bus ride from Taksim Square. Take the metro to Taksim Square and walk to the museum, or take the tram to Kabatas, use the funicular to reach Taksim Square, and continue to walk from there. For maximum convenience, or if you’re staying outside of the Taksim area, grab a taxi.
When to Get There
The museum is open 9am to 4:30pm Wednesday through Sunday, and is closed on some Turkish and religious holidays. Best times to visit are for the afternoon janissary band concerts (although it can get crowded).
Notable Military Items
The Military Museum contains items from a wide swath of Turkish history. Be sure not to miss the chain the Byzantines used to block the Golden Horn from the invading Ottomans in 1453, large jewel-encrusted field tents used by sultans, myriad bows and arrows, and the large collection of Ottoman cannons. Upstairs, there are items from the Battle of Gallipoli on display.