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Which museums are a must in Rome, Athens and Istanbul?

Which museums are a must in Rome, Athens and Istanbul?

Aug 22nd, 2012, 08:52 AM
Original Poster
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Which museums are a must in Rome, Athens and Istanbul?

We are going to have approximately 3 days in each of Rome, Istanbul and Athens. While we want to see the "must see" things in these places and learn "briefly" the interesting histories, we don't want to spend all of our time in museums either. I think by the time we've been to all these places (as well as a couple Greek islands and Ephesus) we will start being "mosqued/churched out", "ruined out" and "museumed out".
Can anyone recommend which museums in these 3 cities we really should not miss?
Abbyo is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 08:58 AM
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Rome - Vatican Museums and Borghese - all others aer optional - although some are fascinating (Capitline, Villa Giulia)
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 09:11 AM
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Rome: Vatican Museums, Borghese Gallery, Capitoline Museums

Athens: Archaeological Museum, New Acropolis Museum
Delaine is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 09:44 AM
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I don't know what counts as a museum. Would you go to the Acropolis Museum and skip the Acropolis itself? Go to the Capitoline Museum and bypass the forum?

In Istanbul, I would consider the whole of Topkapi Palace a museum and a must-see. The archelogical museum inside Topkapi Palace is interesting but not a must-see -- in my opinion. And the Aya Sofia, no longer a church or a mosque, is a must-see whatever category it falls in.

I rely on green Michelin guides to rate the sights. I don't always agree but it's still very useful. Rick Steves also rates sights.
Mimar is online now  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 12:30 PM
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In addition to the Topkapi Palace, this is what I wrote in a trip report:

"At one point we had to choose between two museums: The Istanbul Archeological Museum and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. Here are the two descriptions given:

'For the Arts Museum: Housed in the former Ibrahim Pasa Palace on the Hippodrome, this museum's 40,000-piece collection covers the breadth of Islamic art over the centuries.

For the Archeological Museum: In a city as richly layered with the remains of fall civilizations as Istanbul, this museum is an essential stop.'

Essential caught our eye, so we chose the Archeological Museum with no regrets--and the Rick Steves book is quite correct in being somewhat dismissive of anything after the Roman period. We thought we had seen our Roman ruins and sculptures, but nothing like the sarcophagi of that museum."

Michael is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 01:44 PM
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The Alexander sarcophagus at the Archeological Museum is exquisite and a must see. If you only see one thing at this museum then this is the piece to see. (I wish it wasn't behind glass and in a dimly lit room, but it's for its own protection.)

I also highly recommend the Chora Church. It's known for its beautiful mosaics.
Axel2DP is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 01:54 PM
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in Rome, i strongly recommend the galleria doria pamphilj - http://www.dopart.it/roma/

it's near the Pantheon, and is no-where near as full of visitors as many other places, but has a terrific collection of paintings as well as being a very interesting building. frankly in 3 days, I would go there and to the galleria borghese, rather than spending hours and hours traipsing round the Vatican museums with half the other tourists in Rome.
annhig is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 03:20 PM
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The Acropolis Museum definitely, plus the Acropolis.

The Pantheon is something that is really important to see in Rome.

I don't think it is important to see the Vatican museums in Rome. Everybody talks about the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael rooms, and they are very famous, but you have to walk and walk and walk to get to them, and they are very crowded. It is interesting to see the inside of St. Peter's church and the Pieta without going to the Vatican museums. I think it is more fun to walk around Rome and understand the history. Go into any church when you want to step out of the sun and you will see fantastic artwork. You don't have to go to the Vatican museum. You also don't have to walk around the Forum. You can see it from other places and there are other ancient ruins you will see as you walk

Hagia Sofia and the blue mosque are great.
stracciatella is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 04:15 PM
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Rome: Vatican Museum

Athens: I suppose the New Acropolis, although I found it a bit overwhelming and repetitive. In its defense, it was my jet lag day in Europe, so I was certainly too tired to do it justice. I really enjoyed the Byzantine and Christian Museum though. Icons, vestments, coins, books, etc.

Istanbul: Many decommissioned churches are now called "museums" although I suspect your question is posed from the traditional definition of a museum. You absolutely cannot miss touring the Hagia Sophia. It is the second most spectacular man-made structure I've seen on this planet, after the Basilica di San Marco in Venice. The Istanbul Archeological Museum was very interesting and one I'd recommend from a traditional museum standpoint.
MinnBeef is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2012, 02:00 AM
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Last time in Rome I skipped the Vatican museums, I had already seen them on a previous visit but I discovered the National Roman Museum in Palazzo Massimo and actually found it more interesting. It is not crowded and is easy to get round, the exhibits were incredible especially the unbelievable collection of coins and all found in Rome only. It gave a good insight into life during the days of the Roman Empire. I would go again. It is not too far from the central train station. They only took cash when I was there so
keep that in mind as the ATM was a bit of a walk to get to.
golfernz1 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2012, 04:28 PM
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Great info everyone, thanks! Lots of food for thought as I scour through our travel books and plan our time. We are travelling Oct 24 to Nov 11 so I'm thinking things won't be so crowded......is that right?
Abbyo is offline  
Aug 28th, 2012, 04:32 AM
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abbyo - ignore marlenegigi - she's just advertising her travel agency.

you're right that the time you are travelling should be less busy, but you can still expect a few crowds especially in Rome at that time.
annhig is offline  
Aug 31st, 2012, 03:17 PM
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The Borghese Gallery is beautiful and is surrounded by a beautiful, green park.
Maur2010 is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Hey, we have booked the "Vatican Under the Stars" tour. Any advice from anyone? Our entrance time is 7pm. Will we get to see St. Peter's Basilica, or does it close too early??
Abbyo is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2012, 01:23 PM
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hi abbyo,

I did a bit of googling, and according to a thread on TA, you won't be able to see inside the Basilica because it shuts at 7pm.

the suggestion made there is that you go to the Basilica first, before the tour. an alternative is to go early one morning, preferably by 9am, to avoid the crowds.
annhig is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2012, 02:06 PM
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One of the most important reasons to go the famous place you are going to is that places themselves are still alive with history. You never have to walk into a single museum to feel that. These towns are centuries deep. Just walking to the bus stop or the pharmacy can mean walking through streets several thousand years old, with layers of history under your feet.

Museums are tricky places for scholarship and tourism. Some people get a lot out of them. Some people don't. It is especially nonsense to be told the "Galleria Borghese" or the "Vatican Museum" is MUST museum. Really? Why not walk around the ancient Portico d'Ottavia first and see how you feel. Or the piazza Faranese, with its ancient bathtub from the real Roman baths that is now a fountain.

I suggest you go to these places with your eyes wide open and see these ancient cities with your own eyes. If you want to know more, there are loads of bookstores and museums to fill you in. Just today, I was walking around Lisbon and found a bookstore where I could buy books that answered some of my questions about what I was looking at and wanted to learn more about it. I'm not suggesting you waste your time in these great cities by not trying to learn, ahead of time, what they are. But let your own curiosity guide you, not some school-marmish ideas, especially not from people on the internet who may rate their own limited opinion higher than it actually deserves to be rated.
aguamineral is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2012, 05:24 PM
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"Or the piazza Faranese, with its ancient bathtub from the real Roman baths that is now a fountain."

Actually they were always fountains.

They came from the Baths of Caracalla and were displayed in the center of 2 seperate rooms on each side of the figidarium, their design is based on an oval wine vat. Regards, Walter
ParadiseLost is offline  

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