Given that it is housed in an aesthetically pleasing late-19th-century building (once the posh Bristol Hotel, a magnet for Orient Express passengers) that wouldn't look out of place in London, Paris, or Rome, it's apt that the Pera Museum conforms to the highest European standards in terms of the presentation of its exhibits—and boasts both a fancy upscale gift shop and a stylish café on the ground floor. Take the elevator up to the first floor to a permanent exhibition of fine ceramics, the Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics Collection. Although slightly inferior in quality to the better-known and earlier Iznik ceramics, Kütahya wares are nonetheless very attractive. Although this collection concentrates on ceramics produced in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, pottery is still being produced today in this western Anatolian town. Also on this floor is the Anatolian Weights and Measures Collection (way better than it sounds!) and a fascinating collection of period photographs of old Istanbul.

Ascend another floor to the heart of the museum, to the Orientalist Painting Collection, to see the late Ottoman Empire through the skilled brush of mainly European artists, including Carl Frederik Von Breda and Fausto Zonaro. The centerpiece of the collection, however, is Ottoman dignitary Osman Hamdi Bey's "The Tortoise Trainer," which depicts a turbaned dervish surrounded by a ring of inquisitive tortoises. Painted in 1906-7, it became the most expensive ever by a Turkish artist when it sold for $3.5m in 2004.The third and fourth floors host regular temporary exhibitions of some quality—Picasso, Warhol, and Chagall have all had their work featured here. Also look out for art-house movies in the in-house Pera Cinema.