Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Florence Nightingale Museum in Istanbul

Ever since I read that the Hospital where Florence Nightingale started her pioneer work in nursing allowed visits and was now a Museum in her honor I knew we had to go. The thing is, this museum is located within the Selimiye Army Barracks, headquarters of the Turkish First Army and so you need a special permission to visit. This must have been the most complicated process ever, basically we spent every day of our stay calling them to ask if our request had been accepted, and ended up going on the last day of our stay. To visit, you need to fax a letter informing of your wish to visit, suggesting a time, and including your full names, passport numbers, nationality and contact details in Istanbul. We could not thank enough the receptionist from our hotel who patiently did all this for us while getting all kinds of funny questions. Apparently they thought we were spies.
 The barracks were originally built by Selim III in 1799, and were reconstructed after a fire by Sultan Mahmut II in 1827.  At the museum, you will be able to see the actual hallways that served as a hospital when Florence Nightingale was there, helping wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Upon her arrival, the mortality rate was as high as 70 %, mostly due to infections, cholera, typhus, and dysentheria. By the time she left this rate went down to 5 %, due to the careful organization and hygienic measures she initiated. You can also visit the treatment or surgery room, with an original chest tube (a primitive drain), and some of her personal objects such as books, original furniture, pictures and letters. Her living room and resting space is also available to visit. I have a thing for medical history, and I remember studying and acting  the life of Florence Nightingale for English class in 3rd grade so I was really happy to see this place.
To get there, you need to take the ferry to Harem (they go there from Eminonu) and then ask directions (or take a taxi) for the Selimiye Kıslası Harem Kapısı (the barracks). The entrance is free and it is open from 9h to 17h
Phone: (0216) 5568166.
Fax: (0216) 5531009 
Address: Nci Ordu Komutanliği 1 Üsküdar Selimiye Army Barracks

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