As you wait for your flight at the new Istanbul Airport, you may take in the many civilisations Anatolia has hosted in its thousands of years of history.

These days, travellers are advised to appear at airports hours ahead of their flight time due to coronavirus precautions. In Istanbul, this means that one can while away time in a wonderful museum once past customs.

Upstairs, behind the duty free shops, marked by discreet signs, is the Istanbul Airport Museum. It is spread over 1,000 square metres.

According to Anadolu Agency, it was opened on Friday, July 17, 2020. Istanbul Tour Guides Guild President, Sedat Bornovali, recently attended the opening ceremony on September 23 and witnessed how the young museum is slowly filling up with artefacts.

Bornovali says the current exhibition was planned to stay open for only six months, but due to interest and the pandemic making it difficult for many to visit, it has been extended for another six.

The head of Alexander the Great, from the Hellenistic period.
The head of Alexander the Great, from the Hellenistic period. (Courtesy of Sedat Bornovali)

According to Bornovali, who is also an assistant professor at Istanbul’s Nisantasi University, the exhibition in place right now, “Treasures of Turkey – Faces of Throne” is a fantastic one, comprising items from various Turkish museums. 

For those with the time to visit, entrance to the museum is free of charge for airport workers, and costs 5 euros for anyone else.

Ottoman-era ‘talismanic’ shirt.
Ottoman-era ‘talismanic’ shirt. (Courtesy of Sedat Bornovali)

During the ribbon cutting ceremony in July, Culture and Tourism Minister, Nuri Ersoy, says the museum gathers artefacts mirroring all civilizations in Anatolia, Turkey’s heartland, and that “One-third of foreign visitors are coming to Turkey via Istanbul Airport.”

Ersoy, as quoted in the AA article, says in 2019 around 15 million people entered Turkey from Istanbul, while another 15 million used it for transit travels.

The museum will create awareness for Anatolian civilizations, especially among transit passengers, he adds.

A neolithic sculpture from Catalhoyuk from Ankara Anatolian Civilisations Museum.
A neolithic sculpture from Catalhoyuk from Ankara Anatolian Civilisations Museum. (Courtesy of Sedat Bornovali)

According to Ersoy, Istanbul has permanent guests visiting once or twice a year, and that is why the museum will change its concept every year.

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya points out that the museum is the largest of its kind in the world.

“A total of 316 works of art from 29 museums will be displayed at the museum,” he explains.

“With the most modern technological facilities, we will exhibit the thousands of years of experience of Anatolia and Istanbul, personal belongings of kings and emperors, portraits, the throne of ancestors that once ruled the world,” he says, adding the newly launched museum is the 90th museum in the city.

Thumbnail photo: Double-headed eagle from Konya’s Seljuk period. (Courtesy of Sedat Bornovali)

Headline photo: Ottoman period handwritten manuscript. (Courtesy of Sedat Bornovali)

Source: TRT World