This large and fascinating museum boasts an extensive collection of swords, daggers, armor, and other weaponry, but it's not just for those interested in military history. Exhibits on the history of Turkic armies going back to the Huns, the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, and more recent Turkish military engagements show the importance of military strength in shaping Ottoman history and modern Turkish society. Two gorgeously embroidered silk tents used by the Ottoman sultans
on campaigns are particularly impressive. And don't miss the section of the great chain that the Byzantines stretched across the Golden Horn in 1453 during the Ottoman siege of the city. Atatürk was educated in this former military academy, and one room is a recreation of his classroom. The highlight is the Mehter, or Janissary military band, which performs 17th- and 18th-century Ottoman military music in full period costume in a special auditorium at 3 pm when they're in town (most days). Watching this 55-member-strong ensemble, with their thunderous kettledrums and cymbals, will certainly give you an idea of why the Ottoman army was so feared in its day.
Valikonağı Cad., Harbiye, Istanbul, Turkey