Did you know, that one of the biggest – and best collections of Roman statues and artifacts is to be found right in the middle of Antalya ?? No right? But perhaps it’s because you have never been on a trip to Antalya Müzesi – the Archaeological Museum of Antalya. Because if you had, you had surely lured it – here is a huge collection of different sculptures, statues and artifacts, bones, fossils and more. Although the museum may look quite small and modestly, when you arrive at it, it houses several exhibition halls (indoor and outdoor) – 13 of its kind as well as conference rooms, workshops where all the researches is situated, storeroom, photo compartment, laboratories, offices , one cafe and housing for the museum’s staff. Space is importen, when skowing of all the incredible number of things and well-preserved finds. For it is truly an impressive collection of treasures found in ancient Pamphylia and the area around the Mediterranean.
Why Antalya Museum?
Perhaps an archaeological museum sound a bit too dull and dusty in your ears. And it costs a lot of work before more than 1000 year old statues gets exciting and something you priority on your vacation. If you do not care about history or are able to see the wonder and beauty in the old statues and sarcophagi, then yes, it will probably be a little up the hill. But if you care just a little bit, you here have a unique the opportunity to learn a little about the area, in which you spend your holiday. In addition, it’s one of the best in the world. That is an opportunity, that you do not find many other places in the world, so perhaps it is to seize the chance?
Funny enough has over 1,000 reviews in TripAdvisor assessed Antalya Museum to be No.1 attraction to see, while you are in Antalya. So I think there must be something about it. It has been some years, since I have been there, but I can still remember, how impressed I was, when I went gaping around in the galleries (my husband Dennis is a little harder to impress, for him, the museum is equal to infinite precious childhood-hours spent on history classes on site. And it was obviously a little dull). We spent a few hours there and went from one more overwhelming room to another. There are a total of 13 halls on site, ranging from the Natural History floor with significant stones, fossils and bones from the earliest settlements to what we will call the Iron Age and the Bronze Age, to the classic Greek and Roman floor, where you will find figurines, wine decanters and the statue of Apollo. Then there are several rooms with statues of the Greek gods, of emperors, conquerors as such. Hadrian (read about his city port here) – the vast majority found in ancient Perge, Aspendos, Side or one of the other important sites close to the city.
Can you find Santa Claus here?
You would think that all sarcophagi – old culverts are the same, or at least looks pretty similar. And although you may have seen some of these around at the excavations (eg. at the ancient city of Olympos), I can almost guarantee you, that the finest chests is to be seen here – and they are very different. As you may get, the halls themes are moving slowly up time and also through the Byzantine period followed by the Ottoman period, where you can see the most beautiful mosaics, carpets, inscriptions, books, lamps, garments, etc., Etc. There are eg. a whole ethnographic department for clothes and weapons, where you can also see a typical Anatolian style nomad tent. Ten coin collection and the religious collection is also quite exciting with gold, silver and copper from all periods and the beautiful Islamic calligraphy inscriptions. In the religious department, there are several wooden reliefs with Jesus Christ, and it is also here, that you will find one of the area’s real treasures – a shrine with some of Sct. Nicholaus bones !! So who is he you ask? Yeah, Sct. Nicholaus is SANTA – Santa Claus himself, who lived in the 4th century in Myra, a small town in Antalya district. It may well be, that you do not believe me (at least I didn’t when my husband told me. I thought it rather was one of those Turkish tales aka fantastic stories as they are so good at telling). But Wikipedia will tell you the same – Santa Claus is coming from Turkey! Then consider just whether you have to go through this floor, if you have children along with you. The risk that they no longer believe in Santa Claus or being traumatized for life by looking at Santa’s bones are present …. 😉
Instead immediately drag your kids into the children’s ward, where there is opportunity to niggle on the simple sculptures, drawings, etc., and where they can see a very fine collection of Turkish toys and piggy banks. The ward is the first of its kind in Turkey and it is a good place to learn a little history.
As you probably can see, it is a rather unique place, which has great significance for the region. Whether it is a bit dusty and nerdy – well – frankly, it is a museum where things are in glass cases or framed otherwise and you walk around with that devotional knowing-expression on your face saying “oh” and “ah”. Yet …. Its a big and interesting collection with good signage in Turkish and English with relevant information about the things you’re looking at, it’s clean and neat, super lighting, polished granite floors that helps it all shines a little more and a rather unusual outdoor exhibition. The museum can not about great interactive installations, which you may know from other major museums around the world. It would have suited the place and maked it a bit more exciting. But there are reports, that the museum must move to a newer and more appropriate spot within the next few years. The current museum has been here since 1972, when it was moved from Yivli Minare inside the city center (where it had been since the Sultan established the museum in 1922 as a response to the Italian archaeologists deportation of the country’s historical treasures).
How to get to the museum?
It’s actually very easy to get there. You can either choose to walk (which is a few kilometers) from the old town of Kaleici, down a really nice path through parks and overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Antalya. Or you can choose to walk the opposite -but at least as beautiful road, if you come from Konyaalti – beach. If you do not really have the energy to walk and enjoy the view, then you can also take the tram from inside the clock tower in the center, which terminates at the museum. Easy and convenient.
The museum is open from 9 to 19.30 daily April to October and closed on Mondays during the winter season and here open from 8:30 to 17. It costs about 20 TL to get in, free if you have a Müzekart. If you spends an additional 15 TL you get an audio guide, and it should be worth the money and a good help in the great halls, so don’t cheat yourself.
You’ll have to spend a few hours there, but they go by fast. There is also a small cafe, where you can sit down and have refreshments. And then you can jump ahead to the beach. It is just below the cliffs at the opposite side of the road from the museum. At least take a walk to the cliff to enjoy the view – it is a quite formidable and unique thought, that others have enjoyed the same view for millennia before you.
The address is: Antalya Müzesi Konyaaltı Cad. No: 88-07050 ANTALYA