In the October of 1854, when war was declared against Russia, Miss Florence Nightingale with 38 nurses traveled to Istanbul to organize a nursing unit to care for the wounded from the Crimean battle front, which was fought between October 1853 - March 1856.
On arrival she found 2,300 wounded already installed in the Selimiye Military Barracks at Uskudar (old Scudari). Within weeks the numbers rose to 10,000 wounded Turkish, French and British soldiers. She saw the over crowding of the wards, corridors and even the towers. She believed that the bad sanitary arrangements (common to all hospitals at that time) plus the overcrowding were responsible for the frightening mortality rate. During her two years in Uskudar she organized a new type of war hospital, laying the foundations of modern nursing case.
To this day she is known as "The lady with the lamp", this phrase was coined by the wounded men who looked forward to her nightly visits as she made her way through the maze of corridors and wards, lighting her way with a candle lamp.
At the end of the Crimean War, the Selimiye Barracks reverted to the purpose it was built for. An impressive structure built in 1828 can easily be seen from the European shore, situated at the entrance of the Bosphorus on the Anatolian side of the city.
The museum is opened in memory of the English nurse Florence Nightingale who came to Istanbul in 1854 to tend the Turkish and allied soldiers of the Crimean War. The hospital was at the Selimiye Army Barracks and now the room in the northwest tower has been turned into a museum.
The exhibits include Florence Nightingale's personal belongings, photographs, certificates, medallions and the bracelet that sultan Abdulmecid presented to her. In order to visit the museum you should take an official permit in advance since this is located inside a high security military area.
Besides the museum you can also visit the British Cemetery nearby the Army installations. The cemetaries are made in the memory of those who died at the hospital during the war time, mostly surgeons, hospital staff and their families who died of cholera. There is a huge Victoria Memorial with a dedication to Florence Nightingale and memorial grave stones, and the main Commonwealth War Grave Commission Cemetery with many headstones of the soldiers who died here about 160 years ago.
Florence Nightingale Müzesi
Selimiye Kislasi, Usküdar
(216) 343 73 10
Open daily between 09:00-16:00, except at weekends
Can be visited with special permission only