Legendary Istanbul - From Byzantion to Istanbul

City of Emperors – the Legendary Istanbul is at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum!

To celebrate the selection of Istanbul as the European Capital of Culture for 2010, Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM) is hosting an exhibition entitled “From Byzantion to Istanbul: 8000 Years of A Capital”. The exhibition, which will be on display from June 5th to September 26th, presents the peerless history of Istanbul from its founding until today with over 500 works, some of which are the discoveries from the Yenikapı excavation conducted as part of the Marmaray Project, which goes back 8000 years. The exhibition sheds light on the glorious history of a city that has served as the capital city for the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires from Byzantion to New Rome, from Constantinople to Istanbul, and it brings together treasures scattered among various countries through trade, gifts and historic events such as the looting of the 4th Crusade.

The exhibition is hosting selected works from leading institutions in England, Germany, France, Italy, the Vatican, Hungary, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Ireland, Qatar, Portugal, and Russia. The exhibition also includes works selected from state museums, private museums and collections in Turkey and brings together, for the first time, a range of different pieces chosen from a total of 58 museums, 39 of which are located abroad and 19 in Turkey.

The exhibition tells the story of Istanbul’s transformation from a Roman garrison to the capital of the empire after the separation of Rome into East and West, the stages of growth, stagnation and collapse experienced during the Byzantine Empire and its rebirth after being conquered by the Ottomans in 1453 while presenting the times of upheaval and the golden eras in the history of this capital of empire, which in a sense, is woven into the tapestry of European history. The rich tradition created by the diverse religious heritage of the city is presented. The comprehensive exhibition catalogue, which includes articles from 20 foreign and Turkish academicians as well as colorful visuals, serves as a valuable reference for everyone interested in Istanbul as it touches on the socio-political, cultural and historical aspects of the city during different periods.

Exhibition Curator, SSM Director, Dr. Nazan Ölçer, provided information about the exhibition, saying, “As part of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture event calendar, we thought it would be appropriate to remind the 15 million inhabitants of Istanbul and the entire world of Istanbul's 8000-year history and its cosmopolitan identity born of a blend of different cultures with this comprehensive exhibition. I believe that everyone who visits our exhibition will find their desire to discover Istanbul is rekindled.”

The exhibition’s primary sponsor is the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency and it is being carried out with the generous contributions of Sabancı Holding.

Silahtarağa Fountain (Artemis statue)

Silahtarağa Fountain (Selena statue ?)

Silahtarağa Fountain (Selena statue ?)

Chair Ornament Personifying Rome

Incense Burner 6th century Discovered in Kumluca (Antalya) Silver H. 43 cm, D. 18 cm Inv. No. A.1019 and A.1022

Fresco depicting St. Merkourios

Octagonal Pendant with Christ Pantokrator

Bible in Armenian

Fragment of a Relief Depicting an Emperor

Portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent




Portrait of Mehmed II

Free Guided Tours on Weekends

Every Saturday and Sunday at 14:00 during all June, July, and August, it would be possible to have a session of free tour, guided by the students of Sabancı University.

Access by Boat

Free boat services will be organised on every Saturday and Sunday during all June. The boat, which will be departing from the Kabataş and Beşiktaş Turyol ports, will carry the visitors to Emirgan.

Time Table

Departure from Kabataş

Departure from Beşiktaş

Arrival to Emirgan













Departure from Emirgan

Arrival to Beşiktaş

Arrival to Kabataş