Nestled in the heart of Emirgan, one of the oldest settlements on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, the Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM) is a must-visit destination for art and history enthusiasts. Housed in a beautiful villa, the museum features a rich collection of artwork, manuscripts, and furniture that showcase the cultural wealth of Istanbul. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the history of the museum, its collections, and practical information to help you plan a memorable visit to this extraordinary destination.

A Glimpse into the Past: The History of the Sakıp Sabancı Museum

The Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s main building, a stunning villa, was built in 1925 by Italian architect Edoardo De Nari for Prince Mehmed Ali Hasan of the Egyptian Khedive family. Over the years, the villa served as a summer residence for various members of the Khedive family.

In 1951, Hacı Ömer Sabancı, an industrialist from Adana, purchased the mansion from the Khedive family. The villa became known as the “Equestrian Mansion” due to the 1864 horse sculpture by French sculptor Louis Doumas, which was placed in front of it. The second horse statue within the grounds is a cast of one of the four horses in front of the Venetian San Marco church, taken from the Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul.

Following Hacı Ömer Sabancı’s death in 1966, the mansion became the permanent residence of Sakıp Sabancı, the elder of the family. It housed his extensive collection of calligraphy and paintings for many years before being donated to Sabancı University. In 2002, the museum opened its doors to the public, offering visitors a versatile museum environment with its rich collection, international temporary exhibitions, conservation units, and various cultural events. See the location…

Free Tickets to Sakıp Sabancı Museum and 80+ More Activities with Istanbul Tourist Pass

Visit the exquisite Sakıp Sabancı Museum in Istanbul with your Tourist Pass to explore a diverse collection of art, calligraphy, and historical artifacts for free. Immerse yourself in the captivating culture and history of Turkey within the elegant walls of this renowned museum.

Unraveling the Collections: Art, Manuscripts, and More

The Arts of the Book and Calligraphy

The Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s Arts of the Book and Calligraphy Collection is a testament to the rich history of calligraphy in Turkey. It features works by renowned calligraphers, illuminated manuscripts, and Korans, spanning from the 14th to the 20th century. The collection expanded in the 1980s with the purchase of private collections and has been exhibited in major museums abroad since 1989.

Painting Collection

The museum’s Painting Collection showcases select examples of early Turkish painting and the works of foreign artists who worked in Istanbul during the later years of the Ottoman Empire. It includes works by local artists such as Osman Hamdi Bey, Şeker Ahmed Paşa, and Nazmi Ziya Güran, as well as foreign artists like Fausto Zonaro and Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky.

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Collection of Furniture and Decorative Arts

The Collection of Furniture and Decorative Arts at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum can be found in the rooms preserved as they were during the Sabancı family’s residence. It includes 18th and 19th-century Sèvres vases, Bohemian chandeliers, and numerous accessories that reflect the transformation of society and social life during the late Ottoman period.

Archaeological Artifacts Collection

The museum’s Archaeological Artifacts Collection consists of 22 stone artifacts on display in the museum’s gardens. The collection includes marble column capitals featuring decorative elements of the Ionic, Corinthian, and composite styles. Four composite capitals from the nineteenth century offer insight into the Neoclassical period’s reinterpretation of motifs from Antiquity and Late Antiquity. Two striking pieces in the collection are an altar showing the goddess Cybele and a column drum depicting the war between the giants and the gods of Mount Olympus. The latest dated piece in the collection belongs to the Middle Ages, an architrave with arched decoration characteristic of Asia Minor, used as a barrier separating the nave from the sanctuary in Byzantine churches.

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Abidin Dino Archive

The Abidin Dino Archive includes the artist’s drawings, sketches, and plans for his sculptures. Abidin Dino, one of the most important Turkish painters of the 20th century, drew inspiration from the developments of the 1900s and immortalized the period in his works. As a versatile figure in Turkish art history, Dino was also a cartoonist, writer, and director. Visitors can explore his contributions to art beyond painting at the Sakip Sabanci Museum.

Emirgan Archive

The Emirgan Archive showcases nostalgic items about Emirgan, one of the most beautiful districts of the Bosphorus. The collection features photographs of daily life in Emirgan since the early 1900s, including wooden mansions, ferries, and seaside palaces. Visitors can travel back in time and experience the district’s charm through the eyes of its past residents.

What Else to See at Sakıp Sabancı Museum?

Horse Statues

The Sakip Sabanci Museum garden houses two significant horse sculptures. One of them is a replica of the bronze sculptures that adorned the entrance of the Hippodrome of Constantinople, the most important arena of the Byzantine Empire. The other sculpture was created by the French sculptor Louis Doumas in Paris in 1864, which adorned the mansion of Abraham Pasha, one of the top bureaucrats of the Ottoman period.


The SSM Garden, with a history of 100 years, is one of the most important gardens in Istanbul. It features 115 different plant varieties, including rare plants from the Far East, America, Australia, North Africa, and Caucasus regions. The garden also includes rare plants in Turkey, such as the coastal redwood, cork oak, Aleppo Pine, and Florida Cranberry, to name a few. The garden’s beauty is further enhanced by its 150-year-old monumental trees and various colorful flowers, such as redbud, lavender, and mimosa.

The Seed

The Seed, located inside the Sakip Sabanci Museum, is a multi-purpose event center that boasts a unique Bosphorus view and perfectionist service approach. It serves as a venue for many national and international events, such as culture and art events, meetings, congresses, and more. The Seed is established on a total area of 1,700 m2, and its modern architectural features and advanced technology infrastructure solutions make it a perfect location for hosting events. The venue is equipped with sound, light, and visual systems suitable for advanced technology and can accommodate up to 330 people.

MSA Restaurant

MSA’s Restaurant, part of the Culinary Arts Academy, offers a unique dining experience to food and beverage lovers. The restaurant’s menus are inspired by cuisines from all over the world and are prepared and served by MSA’s chef and students. The restaurant offers an exquisite dining experience with a stunning Bosphorus view.

Events at SSM

The Sakip Sabanci Museum hosts various events, including learning workshops for kids and guided tours. These workshops offer a unique opportunity for kids to explore and learn about different aspects of art and culture. The guided tours, on the other hand, provide a deeper understanding of the museum’s collections and temporary exhibitions.

Visiting the Sakıp Sabancı Museum

Hours and Admission

The Sakıp Sabancı Museum is closed on Mondays.

It is open from 10:00 to 18:00. The ticket office is open until 17:30. The last visitor entry is at 17:30.

Entry Fee

Annual tickets cost 140 TL and are issued to a specific person. ID must be presented at each entrance.

Daily tickets cost 90 TL and are valid only on the day of purchase.

Admission is free on Tuesdays between 10:00 and 18:00.

Getting There

The closest bus stop to the Sakıp Sabancı Museum is Emirgan-Çınaraltı on the coastline. Bus lines that regularly stop at this station are:

  • 22RE Kabataş – Reşitpaşa
  • 25E Kabataş – Sariyer
  • 22 Kabataş – İstinye Dereiçi
  • 40 Taksim – Sariyer
  • 40T Taksim – İstinye Dereiçi
  • 42T Taksim – Bahçeköy
  • EL1 Emirgân – 4. Levent Metro Ring
  • EL2 Emirgân – 4. Levent Metro Ring
  • 59RH Rumeli Hisarüstü – İstinye/Hacıosman Metro

Cityline ferries that stop at Emirgan are:

  • Bosphorus Line
  • Rumeli Kavagi – Eminonu
  • Cengelkoy – İstinye
  • Bebek – Emirgan.

Tips for Visiting

  • The museum is housed in a stunning villa, so be sure to take the time to enjoy the architecture and gardens.
  • The SSM Garden is one of the most important gardens in Istanbul and features a variety of rare plants.
  • The Seed, located inside the museum, is a multi-purpose event center that can accommodate up to 330 people.
  • MSA’s Restaurant, part of the Culinary Arts Academy, offers a unique dining experience with a stunning Bosphorus view.
  • Guided tours provide a deeper understanding of the museum’s collections and temporary exhibitions.

What to Visit Near the Sakıp Sabancı Museum

There are several other interesting places to see near Sakıp Sabancı Museum that are worth visiting. Here are some of the top recommendations:

Emirgan Park

This is a large public park located on the Bosphorus shore, just a short walk from the museum. The park is known for its beautiful flowers and plants, as well as its picturesque views of the Bosphorus. It’s a great place to take a walk, have a picnic, or simply relax in nature.

Sadberk Hanim Museum

This is another museum located near Sakıp Sabancı Museum, and it is also dedicated to Turkish art and history. The museum is housed in two historic mansions and features a collection of artifacts dating back to the Ottoman era. Read more…

Istinye Park Shopping Mall

If you’re in the mood for some shopping, Istinye Park is a great place to go. This large mall features a wide range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, including a movie theater and an indoor amusement park. Read more…

Rumeli Hisarı

This historic fortress is located just a short drive from Sakıp Sabancı Museum, and it is a must-see attraction for history buffs. The fortress was built in the 15th century by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, and it played a key role in the conquest of Constantinople. Read more…

Bosphorus Cruise

Finally, no visit to Istanbul is complete without a cruise on the Bosphorus. There are several tour companies that offer Bosphorus cruises departing from the nearby neighborhoods of Ortaköy and Bebek. The cruises offer breathtaking views of the city’s skyline, as well as historic landmarks such as the Maiden’s Tower and the Dolmabahçe Palace. Read more…

The Sakıp Sabancı Museum is a cultural treasure that showcases the rich history and artistic legacy of Istanbul. From calligraphic manuscripts to rare plants, the museum offers a unique window into the city’s cultural past and present. With its stunning villa, peaceful gardens, and diverse event spaces, the museum is a must-visit destination for art and history enthusiasts. Book your ticket today and discover the beauty of the Sakıp Sabancı Museum!

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