Great for: Old Boats, Woodcarving, People Who Say “I Love Gooooold”
Originally founded in 1897, Istanbul’s Naval Museum houses a splendid collection primarily comprised of imperial caiques (a traditional type of rowed boat or ship), primarily from the late 1800’s. The caiques are heavily ornamented with gilt and inlays befitting the sultans that used them.
The finest exhibit on display here is a late 16th century Ottoman Galley that served for royal excursions. The Sultan’s kiosk at the back of the ship is beautifully decorated with geometrical patterns of inlaid wood and mother of pearl.
As with most Turkish museums there are also a handful of displays dedicated to Ataturk, in this case made up of three small, though finely built, rowboats that he had used.
Mixed among the Caiques is a large collection of beautifully carved decorations saved from various large ships when they were dismantled. Some of these are various forms of the Ottoman coat-of-arms, massive figureheads from the prows of warships, as well as other smaller artifacts.
While the brochure may exaggerate the importance of this museum, calling it “one of the prominent museums of the world” it is none the less beautiful and of very high quality. If you’re into boats or woodworking at all then this is a great place to visit for a very low price. Just know that, despite being called a naval museum (in English) it’s primarily a museum of Royal caiques with smaller displays from the Ottoman navy scattered throughout. Outside of the museum, in the public squares throughout the neighborhood there is a huge collection of historic cannons and more modern ship guns to add a bit more naval history to this Naval Museum.
How To Get There
As the museum is right next to the Beşiktaş Ferry Terminal this is an easy one to find.
Unfortunately there is no metro or tram that runs all the way to Beşiktaş at this time. What you can do is take the T1 Tram to Kabataş then walk about 20 minutes, past Dolmabahçe Palace, to the Naval Museum. Otherwise, any of the buses marked Beşiktaş will stop nearby.
Simply telling the driver that you want to go to Beşiktaş will be enough.
Where To Stay
The Beşiktaş neighborhood of Istanbul is an old, attractive, and fairly expensive one with lots of high-end hotels nearby. If you’re looking for budget there are some options here but there’s no real need to be tied to this place as it’s well connected and relatively central in the city, allowing you to stay anywhere.
While the collection of cannons outside may look like they’ve been haphazardly scattered throughout, it’s worth checking them out as most have little plaques stating the date built, country of origin, and translation of some of the inscriptions.
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