The Istanbul Military Museum is one of the world’s leading museums, and not without reason. It is logical that since Turkey’s history is mainly based on wars, the museum dedicated to 1000 years of its military history, compiling the relics of 500 years of feared, hated and respected Ottoman warriors, makes this museum one of the most renowned in the world.
Harbiye takes its name from the military museum’s service buildings, which served as a military academy during the late Ottoman Empire. The founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, graduated from this academy. The museum exhibits 5,000 of its approximately 55,000 objects as part of the military cultural property concept.
Given the richness and variety of its collections, the Military Museum, whose foundation dates back to the 15th century, is one of the best museums in the world. After the Turkish conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the Church of St. Irene was transformed into a Cebehane where valuable tools and war equipment were stored. In 1726, all the equipment of the Cebehane was reorganized and a new foundation named Darü’l-Esliha was established. The foundations of the first Turkish museums, in the modern sense of the word, were laid in 1846, and it was at this time that the Military Museum and the Ottoman Army Band were established.
Originally housed in the Hagia Irene Church, the museum was moved to the 1st Army Headquarters building in Harbiye in 1950. Among its most impressive military exhibits you can find:
- Historical rifles
- Uniforms from different periods of the Ottoman army
- Numerous weapons, from bows and arrows to trigger guns, seals and armor
- The Sultan’s tent of swords
- Flags of the Byzantine cavalry
- Various battle items from the Seljuk period to the Republic
- The chain that the Byzantines used to close the Golden Horn before the Conquest
- The concert of Mehter
The impressive re-enactment of the Janissary Band (the Mehter Concert), played daily between 3 and 4 pm in the museum, is probably its greatest attraction. The former military band presents a surprisingly powerful musical re-enactment of the traditional band of the Ottoman infantry units (the Janissaries). This concert, which preceded the arrival of the Ottoman army, served to terrorize the enemies. The concert is formed by an unexpected arrangement of organized cacophonous sounds.
Information about the visit
Open: daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed: Mondays and Tuesdays
Mehter’s concert begins: daily at : 3:00 pm in English, daily at: 3:30 pm in Turkish
The museum is located in Askeri Müseve Kültür Sitesi Komutanligi, Harbiye, Istanbul, about 8 km (1/2 mile) north of Taksim, along Cumhuriyet Avenue.
Entrance fee: 4 TL (about 2.25 USD)