The Military Museum, originally built in 1841, served as a military academy until 1936. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was one among many who studied here. After the academy’s relocation to Ankara in 1936, its use would be continued by the military itself for another thirty years.
However, the history of the artifacts that lined the walls of the Military Museum dates back much farther than that of the building itself. First exhibitions have been under protection since the since the mid-15th Century, alongside the Conquest of Istanbul. The collection was originally stored in the Byzantine Church of Hagia Eirere. The contents were later relocated to the Çinili Köşk, recognized today as the Archeological Museum, though at the time denominated the Müze-i Hümayun. Amid the Second World War era, the historic museum doors closed, its contents hidden, only to reestablish its role in 1959, in the gymnasium of the former military school. It wasn’t until 1993 that the museum would undergo successful reconstruction, and reopen the doors with its present day look.
The Military Museum is one of the largest and most famous of its kind, illustrating epochs from the Seljuk period on to the period of the Republic. The collection, donning weaponry such as rifles, revolver pistols, and swords is extraordinary. Continuing with more specific articles like field glasses and telephones, canteens, lamps, helmets, and powder horns. The exhibition not only holds pieces of the Turkish and Ottoman histories, but also from significantly involved countries of World War II including the United States, Great Britain, and Germany.
At this place you can also find out about the “Turan Tactic” and the “Ten Systems of Metehan” which will help you to understand memorable wins of many historical campaigns.
Impressive dioramas are depicting crucial events such as the Kosovo Battle in 1389, the Conquest of Istanbul in 1453 or the Battle of Mohács in 1526. Attention is also paid to the First World War and key battles for the Ottoman Empire such as the Battle of Çanakkale – there are exhibits from French and British boats which sunk at the Straits of Dardanelle.
Remarkable parts of the exhibition are the hall dedicated to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Besides other interesting things, you can see for example Atatürk´s pajamas or socks!
After visiting the chamber of the Armenian issue you will be able to gain an understanding of the Turkish view on history. Captions such as “women, children massacred by the Armenians…”, “Turks massacred by kindling fire on their groins…” without mentioning the crimes committed against the Armenians, for some, there may be left a bitter feeling.
After your visit, you should not miss our Mehter Takımı (military band) performance! They play traditional Turkish military music and be able to sense the magnificent time when the army was the uniting element of national awareness.
This place is imposing in its size and remarkable in its content. If you are interested in history, military, or just open for understanding a different culture, this place is definitely worth a visit!
Located in Valikonağı Caddesi, Harbiye. If you are coming from Taksim Square you can walk up Cumhuriyet Caddesi. Coming from the Anatolian side, take a ferry, and there are buses leaving from Beşiktas (DT2) as well as Kabataş (70KE, DT2).
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday between 9 am – 5 pm and closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission for adults is 4 Turkish Lira, for students it is free. The museum is also accessible for a wheelchair. Allow at least 4 hours for the visit! In the museum there are friendly and helpful guides at every corner so do not hesitate to ask any questions.