About The Florence Nightingale Museum
The Florence Nightingale Museum in Üsküdar in Istanbul is located in the Selimiye Barracks, the Turkish army barracks which served as a British military base and hospital from 1854 to 1856, during the Crimean War.
History of the Florence Nightingale Museum
It was at the Selimiye Barracks, then known as the Scutari Barracks, that the English nurse Florence Nightingale achieved fame as a pioneer of the medical profession and earned her nickname as the “Lady of the Lamp”.
At its peak, the Selimiye Barracks had 5,000 patients. Nightingale discerned that the dire conditions at the hospital were responsible for a great number of them dying needlessly and successfully petitioned for vast improvements. Her experiences at Scutari led her to become a champion for the importance of sanitary living conditions back home after the war, and she worked tirelessly in order to prevent deaths at home as well as abroad.
On her return, Nightingale set up the Nightingale Training School at St Thomas’ Hospital in order to encourage and train young women who wished to take up nursing.
The Florence Nightingale Museum today
Whilst small, the Florence Nightingale Museum does give an insight into the woman who transformed the living conditions and mortality rates of Crimean War soldiers. Visitors to the Florence Nightingale Museum can see her original desk in the place where she worked together with some letters and equipment. It is worth noting however that the lamp on the desk is not proven to be the one she famously used on her night rounds.
Selimiye Barracks still operates as a military base. As such, the tour is short and the Florence Nightingale section is restricted to one tower. Having said this, one can also see a small exhibit about the Turkish army and the tour is offered in English. The military backdrop also means that security is tight (see entry details) and can be difficult to arrange: you’ll need to contact the barracks at least two days in advance to book, and provide photocopies of ID documents.
Getting to the Florence Nightingale Museum
The museum is in the Selimiye Barracks – you’ll need to get a ferry from Istanbul across to Uskudar and then find a taxi to take you to the Harem Gate of the Selimiye Barracks.