Topkapi Palace, the former residence of the Ottoman sultans, is not only the most popular museum in Istanbul but in all of Turkey. In 2018, slightly more than 3 million people visited it. Meanwhile, next door in the former outer gardens of the palace, the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, a complex of three different buildings, attracted only one-tenth that number last year, with 378,675 visitors.
How is it that one of the first and richest archaeological collections in the world — established in 1869 and with objects spanning consequential millennia and cultured civilizations from Anatolia — could attract only a fraction of the attention tourists lavish on Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque? Three reasons come readily to mind.