A visit to the city's least known museum requires forward planning: to gain access to the heavily guarded Selimiye army barracks, you must fax your passport details, expected time of arrival and phone number. The army will call back to issue permission. Be sure to take your passport.
Visitors enter through a series of guard posts at which the military rank and level of English improves progressively. During the Crimean War, the vast corridors of the barracks were crowded with wounded British, French and Turkish soldiers, shipped in from the battlefields of Balaclava and Sebastopol. The overcrowded, unsanitary conditions meant that a hospital stay increased the likelihood of death, rather than recovery, and many of the hospital's former patients are buried in nearby Haydarpaşa Cemetery.
It was here that Florence Nightingale and her team of nurses developed modern hospital and nursing practice. The museum in her honour is housed in a corner tower. The lower floor contains life-sized statues of Turkish soldiers from the Crimean War to the War of Independence, a well as a waxwork of Florence Nightingale with a wounded patient. On the table is her famous lamp. And up a winding, wooden staircase is the room where she stayed.