Historical Museums of Europe

The history of the European continent is closely connected with the history of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. The achievements of these civilizations became the basis for the emergence of European culture, architecture, art, and political structure.

Many museums in small European cities are of great interest, as they are located on the site of ancient Roman settlements. The history of countries outside the Roman Empire is also of interest.

In this review on the Geomerid portal, you can read about several historical museums in Europe:

  1. Istanbul Archaeological Museum
  2. The Rhine Museum in Trier
  3. Archaeological Museum of Tarragona
  4. Roman-Germanic Museum in Cologne
  5. Archaeological Museum in Antalya
  6. Historical Museum of Bern
  7. Charlemagne Center in Aachen
  8. Historical Museum of Moscow
  9. Odessa Archaeological Museum

Click on the hyperlinks to read in detail about each museum and see a large number of photos

Istanbul Archaeological Museum

The Istanbul Archaeological Museum is in the Court of Janissaries of the Topkapi Palace, on the high hill overlooking the Gülhane Park. It consists of three buildings – the Archaeological Museum properly, the Museum of the Ancient East, and the Museum of Turkish Ceramics (the Chinili Pavilion).

In the main building, that of the Archaeological Museum, which was opened for visiting in 1896, you can see interesting exhibits discovered during archaeological excavations, such as: richly decorated sarcophagi, bas-reliefs, various sculptures and household items of Hellenic and Roman periods. The most precious exhibit of the Archaeological Museum is the sarcophagus from Sidon. It is believed that Alexander the Great himself was buried in the sarcophagus.

The Rhine Museum in Trier

The Rhineland regional Museum (Rheinisches Landesmuseum) is located in Trier. Despite the fact that Trier is located on the Moselle river, the Museum is called Rhenish, since Trier is located in Rhineland-Palatinate. This Museum is recognized as one of the largest archaeological museums in Germany.

The Museum was founded in 1877. Its collections are divided into 4 stages. Primitive, Roman, Carolingian, and Medieval. Collections of all periods are of great interest, but the largest exhibition is dedicated to the Roman period, which is quite logical. In the era of Ancient Rome, the city`s population numbered 100 thousand people, and in the middle ages, Trier turned into a small provincial city with a population of 4 thousand inhabitants

Archaeological Museum of Tarragona

During the Roman Empire, Tarragona was the capital of the province of Near Spain, the largest city on the Iberian Peninsula. Barcelona and Madrid did not exist then. The Archaeological Museum appeared in Tarragona where the most interesting exposition of the ancient period is collected. 

Today, the Archaeological Museum of Tarragona is located in a three-story building. It was built in 1960 on the edge of a hill on the side of the embankment, close to the Roman tower of Pretoria, next to the Roman Circus. Almost the entire exposition of the Tarragona Museum is dedicated to the era of Ancient Rome, as during excavations, as well as during construction work in the old town of Part Alta, archaeologists found a large number of artifacts from that period.

Roman-Germanic Museum in Cologne

The Roman-Germanic Museum is located on the site where the center of the town of Colonia Agrippinensis was in Roman times. The Roman nobility built their palaces here. The main exhibit of the museum is a huge Mosaic of Dionysius, which used to adorn the floor of one of these palaces. It was found during excavations near the cathedral. The mosaic of Dionysus is so large (70 m2) that it was decided not to dismantle it, but to build a museum building around it. 

On all three floors of the Germano-Roman Museum there are many household items and jewelry of the Roman and medieval era. Some jewelry are made of gold. The museum has a large collection of glass from the Roman period. The largest exhibit that occupies the space between the two floors is the tombstone of Legionnaire Publicius. 

Archaeological Museum in Antalya

The Archaeological museum in Antalya with 13 spacious halls was opened in this place in 1972. At the museum you can see exhibits ranging from various implements of primitive people to household items of XIX century. However, of most interest are the finds dating to ancient times: sculptures, sarcophagi, pottery, weapons, etc

Many discoveries were made on the sites of the ancient Greek colonies of the Mycenaean and Athenian civilizations, but the most interesting finds were brought there from the excavations of the ancient city of Perge (10 km north-east of Antalya). A great number of ancient Roman sculptures of I-II centuries were found during the excavations of Perge. All of them are on display in the «Hall of Emperors».

Historical Museum of Bern

The Historical Museum of Bern is one of the largest Museums in Switzerland. It contains extensive collections on the history and culture of the Alpine region. Many collections are dedicated not only to European culture, but also to other regions of the world. Of particular interest is the Einstein Museum, placed in the same building.

The Museum houses original religious sculptures from churches in Bern, as well as from churches in other cities and countries.Of particular interest are the 15th-century tapestries from the collection of the Dukes of Burgundy, armor and helmets of medieval knights, elements of Church interiors from the Cathedral of Lausanne and from Konigsfelden Abbey. Several rooms of the Museum are dedicated to the culture and Ethnography of other regions of the world.

Charlemagne Center in Aachen

The Charlemagne Center is the largest historical museum in Aachen. For a long time, the museum was located in the cramped halls of Frankenberg Castle. In 2014, the museum was opened in a new building. This allowed the collection to be placed in spacious halls. Many expositions have become interactive. 

Most of the exhibition belongs to the age of Charlemagne, which is quite logical. At this time, Aachen was the capital of the vast Kingdom of the Franks, which occupied the territory of modern France, Germany and Italy. After the death of Charlemagne, Aachen lost its capital status, but for 595 years, from 936 to 1531, the coronation ceremony of the Holy Roman emperors was held in Aachen Cathedral.

Historical Museum of Moscow

The building of the State Historical Museum in Moscow is on the northern side of the Red Square, opposite St. Basil`s Cathedral. It is the largest national museum of Russian history and culture, its exhibitions covering all periods in the history of Russia, from ancient times to 20 century. 

A great number of exhibits (over 4,5 million) was gathered in 39 halls of the museum. The halls are arranged in a chronological order. In the first halls you can see the artifacts brought from the diggings of the early man sites, which were conducted on the territory of Russia. Then you can have a look at the exhibits of the Bronze Age (dolmens, idols and cult objects) and the early period of the ancient Russian state.

Odessa Archaeological Museum

Odessa Archaeological Museum is the first museum in the Ukraine. It was founded in 1825 on the base of a private collection of antiquities belonging to Blaramberg. Since that time the museum collection has been considerably extended and now you can see there very interesting artifacts not only from the digging at the Greater Black Sea area, but also Egypt.

You should especially note the Egyptian Room of Odessa Archaeological Museum. The exposition of artifacts found during the excavations in Egypt was considered one of the most valuable in the former USSR, and was inferior only to the collections of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and Pushkin State Museum in Moscow. There you can see ancient sarcophagi, mummies, as well as religious objects and items of everyday life.