Visiting Turkish museums and archaeological sites from your couch

Mosaic in Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep
Mosaic in Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep

As the travel plans of so many of us collapsed with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the only possible way to visit the archaeological sites and museums is to go online and check which collections have already been digitised. In the case of Turkey, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism established Sanal Muze website that offers a 3D experience of some of the best-known state-run archaeological and ethnographic museums. The downside of this project is the fact that even though the museums offer descriptions of the exhibits, they are only available in Turkish at the moment.

Currently, there are 15 museums and just one archaeological site available for virtual tours. However, these are the most impressive and important archaeological collections located in Turkey. Sadly, the oldest such museum in the country - Istanbul Archaeological Museum, established in 1891 - is still unavailable. As the list is systematically expanded, it is worth visiting the website to check for additions.

Which museums are open for a virtual tour at the moment? There are several newly established venues, such as Troy Museum, Şanlıurfa Museum, Adana Museum, and Hatay Archaeological Museum. This is great news for all the visitors who have not got the chance to visit them yet.

Moreover, the museums focussed on the Hittite civilization have been included: Boğazköy Museum near Hattusas and Çorum Museum. There are also well-known and splendid collections of Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Archaeological Museum in Gaziantep, and Antalya Museum.

The venues devoted to the more recent Turkish history are possibly of more interest to the Turkish visitors: War of Independence Museum in Ankara, Republic Museum in Ankara, Ethnography Museum of Ankara, and Atatürk Museum in Samsun.

The finds from Ephesus can be seen in Ephesus Museum in Selçuk and the beautiful mosaics rescued from Zeugma are on display in Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep. The only archaeological site virtually open at the moment is the magnificent prehistoric cult centre of Göbekli Tepe.

Stay safe and enjoy the tours!