Selimiye Barracks, Florence Nightingale Museum, Istanbul

This travel feature is from Linda Baas and Mary Lou Bernardo, who each traveled to Turkey and visited the Selimiye Barracks.

photo by Linda Baas
The Florence Nightingale Museum in Istanbul, Turkey, is housed in Selimiye Barracks within the Peace Headquarters of the Turkish First Army Command on an active military base. In 1954, to mark the centennial of her arrival in Crimea, the Turkish Federation of Nurses converted her rooms in the tower to a museum. While there is some controversy as to which tower Florence Nightingale occupied during the Crimean War, the museum occupies two floors in the Northwest tower.

The second floor of the museum contains memorabilia of Florence Nightingale as well as more current artifacts related to nurses and nursing. In the life size tableau of Miss Nightingale bending over a soldier, she holds a lamp. It doesn't look at all like the Aladdin's lamp we are accustomed to seeing. It can be better described as a paper lantern.

 

The ground floor of the museum has Army memorabilia as well as life size tableaux of Turkish soldiers from the Crimean war to the Turkish War of Independence (1919 - 1922). The tableau of the Crimean War includes a statue of Miss Nightingale and is directly below the winding staircase up to the second floor.

Even though this museum is much smaller than the one in London, it is well worth seeing for lovers of nursing history. Each year a group of Japanese nursing students visits the museum as part of a special nursing visit. There are between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors annually. Each visitor can sign a guest book.
Desk used by Florence Nightingale

 

Stairs between floors Visiting the museum, however, is not easy. Since it is on an active military base, security is high. Potential visitors must request permission and supply a copy of their passports 48 hours in advance. Once there, the visitor must pass a security check and hand in his/her camera and cell phone. The visitor is escorted by a soldier to the barracks where he/she is met by the Protocol Officer. The Protocol Officer takes the visitor on a tour of the museum. Several military guards accompany the officer and the visitor.

From a Mary Lou Bernardo's viewpoint, it was very poignant to be in this museum and know that Miss Nightingale's work with wounded soldiers was continuing at that very moment in neighboring Iraq, less than 800 miles away. I wondered what she would be thinking.

The Museum is open daily.

There are a number of websites with further information and photos:
Istanbul
Hugh Small, Avenging Angel

Crimea
From Art-Ukraine, Travel Tourism Gallery, background on Crimea War.

View from the tower

Thank you to Linda Baas for sharing the photos! And to Mary Lou Bernardo for sharing her more recent travel experience!

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