This article has partner links that I may receive compensation from at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site by using them!

Before traveling to Istanbul, I asked a friend if she had any book recommendations for me to read before my visit. She gave me a few good options, including “The Museum of Innocence” by Orhan Pamuk. I chose to read this book not only because it would give me a solid introduction to Istanbul, but because there is also a museum in Istanbul that serves as a companion piece to the novel. As you might have guessed, the museum is called The Museum of Innocence.

A visit to the Museum of Innocence in Istanbul, Turkey

The Museum of Innocence: The Book

Here’s a very brief synopsis of “The Museum of Innocence.” The book was Orhan Pamuk’s first novel released after he won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. I’ll try to keep it as spoiler-free as possible, but skip this part if you really don’t want to know anything about the plot of “The Museum of Innocence.” Once I started the book, I couldn’t put it down, breezing through all 700-odd pages in just a few days. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.

“The Museum of Innocence” is a romantic story. In 1970s Istanbul, a rich businessman named Kemal falls in love with a girl named Füsun, whom he meets in a shop. This is a problem because he’s engaged to someone else, a woman named Sibel who is of a similar societal status as he is. Kemal & Füsun continue to meet secretly, fall in love, & become increasingly close. Kemal, being an idiot who thinks he can somehow get married and also keep secretly seeing the woman whom he is actually in love with, invites Füsun to his engagement party. That plan doesn’t go well. The two are supposed to meet at his secret love apartment the next day, but she doesn’t show up. The book then follows the ensuing years where Kemal first tries to track Füsun down, then attempts to win back her love. Throughout all of this time, Kemal collects artifacts relating to Füsun & that era in Istanbul. Thus, The Museum of Innocence is born, serving as a device through which the narrator commemorates his life & time with her.

Visiting The Museum of Innocence Istanbul

museum of innocence istanbul location 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul building 700x933

While the book was released in 2008, the actual museum didn’t open until 2012. The Museum of Innocence (official site) is located in Çukurcuma, a central Istanbul neighborhood lined with antique shops, just as described in the book. Near the back of the book, there is a free ticket to the museum (which, of course, didn’t actually exist when the book was first written). Since I had read the book on my Kindle after checking it out from the library, I just paid the entry fee.

museum of innocence istanbul tickets 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul opening hours 700x933

When you enter, you can rent an audio guide for an additional fee. Normally, I find many audio guides to be a waste of time. In this case, I absolutely recommend that you get one. The museum is laid out across every floor of the former home of Füsun & her family, with each exhibit showcasing mementos from various aspects of her life and life in Istanbul in general during that time period. As you move from window to window, you can listen to audioguide descriptions of what’s inside, along with excerpts from the book.

Book your hotel in Istanbul now!

museum of innocence istanbul cigarettes 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul butterfly earring 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul cats photos 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul secret apartment 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul exhibits 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul artifacts 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul lemon birdcage 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul turkey 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul heart 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul dog figurines 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul dress driving lessons car 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul bed tricycle 700x933

Somehow, without having had any idea of what the museum should look like aside from Orhan Pamuk’s descriptive prose, The Museum of Innocence feels completely right. The author was, of course, involved with the creation of the museum, but it is truly a remarkable exhibition that works in tandem with the book itself. The book makes the museum feel more real, and the museum makes the book feel more real. I left enamored with both.

museum of innocence istanbul original manuscript 700x933
museum of innocence istanbul very happy life 700x933

While I had just read The Museum of Innocence a few weeks before my trip to Istanbul, & I highly recommend the story, you don’t have to read the book before visiting. The exhibits give a detailed portrait of daily life in 1970s & 1980s Istanbul. If you’re a fan of such cultural museums, you’ll enjoy The Museum of Innocence in Istanbul, even if you haven’t read the book.

Buy The Museum of Innocence on

Like this post? Pin it for later!

a visit to the museum of innocence in istanbul turkey 667x1000

What do you think? Add a comment!