Top 5 Historical Sights in Turkey

Bosphorus Istanbul Turkey

With Greek monasteries cut into the rocky cliffs, extensive troglodyte cave-cities and excavated cave churches in the plateau of the Central Anatolia, to the scattered burial sites and fallen Lycian cities that lay along the Southwest Turquoise Coast between rural villages and pristine beaches, Turkey is unarguable a country with a captivating history and diverse heritage. Nowadays many people are drawn to Turkey not just for its natural beauty, agreeable weather, or superb adventure sports, but to visit ancient Lycian burial sites, sunken cities, rock-hewn churches and Ottoman mosques.

Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) and Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia)

Universally known as the Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet is located in the centre of Istanbul its 6 minarets pierce the skyline it’s a particularly impressive sight at sunset when the large tour groups have left and street sellers disperse. Sultanahmet Camii was built during the Ottoman era, named after the ruler Sultan Ahmet I, his tomb lies inside, the mosque was completed in 1616. The name Blue Mosque comes from the deep blue glow which radiates of the upper Iznik tiles under sunlight which streams in through 260 windows.

Standing opposite the Blue Mosque is the equally impressive Hagia Sophia, its colossal dome is 60 meters tall and 30 meters wide. Originally built as a cathedral for Byzantine Emperor Constantine, reconstructed in 537 AD by Emperor Justinian, Hagia Sophia, meaning ‘Holy Wisdom’ was converted to a mosque by the Ottomans in the mid 1400’s and opened as a museum in 1935. Inside you can find Byzantine mosaics and inspiring architecture.

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Cappadocia

Human settlements in Cappadocia began as far back at the Bronze Ages when the Hatti and later Hittite civilisations began excavating cave homes and cities below the ground. Soon after came the Assyrians followed by the Phrygians, the Lydians and the Persians before the region became a major trade route under the rule of the Roman Empire. Cappadocia later became inhabited by early Christian settlers who sought refuge from persecution in the caves carved into volcanic tuff, rock hewn churches began to spread across the central plateau, many of which still house beautiful frescos and can be visited in Goreme Open Air Museum, Ilhara Valley or Selima Monastery.

Cappadocia boasts a catalog of cultural and religious diversity; the labyrinth of tunnels and complex cave-cities successfully sheltered many prior inhabitants from the invading armies of Turkmenistan and Mongolia. Today you can visit the widest of the 36 cities, Kaymakli and the deepest, Derinkuyu and wonder through the maze of volcanic rock. Other historical highlights of the region include Uchisar Castle and Mustafapa?a, previously a Greek village, examples of Greek houses and restored Churches can be easily visited with a Cappadocia tour

Most visitors are drawn to Cappadocia for its geological abnormality and outstanding natural beauty, for centuries rain and wind have eroded the soft volcanic tuff leaving behind cone-topped pillar shaped formations which have been dubbed the ‘Fairy Chimneys’, many of which can be found close to Goreme village which is convenient place to base yourself while visiting the Cappadocia. The land is mostly infertile and few plants grow here, with the combination of dry earth and peculiar formations it is understandable that Cappadocia is often referred to as Turkey’s Lunar Landscape.

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Konya

First inhabited by the Hittites around 4000 years ago, Konya lies south of Turkey’s capital city (Ankara), and is considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Turkey. The city has passed between civilizations over the millenias, it’s name changed according to it’s inhabitants; Kuwanna to the Hittites, Kowania to the Phrygians and Iconium to the Romans before the Seljuk Turks arrived and made the city their capital in the 12th-13th century when the current name Konya was adopted. Seljuk remains, along with ruined Christian churches and examples of Persian and Byzantine architecture hide among Turkish buildings. Nowadays Konya is an important cultural centre, made famous by its Whirling Dervish displays; each december the city hosts the week long Mevlana Festival to commemorate the death of the esteemed poet, writer and philosopher, Mevlana Rumi. Throughout the week Rumi’s followers, the Whirling Dervishes, gather in traditional white robes and tall hats for displays of their ceremonial spinning dance. 

Pamukkale

Pamukkale means ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish and it is a UNESCO world heritage site with mineral rich thermal waters, famous for their curative powers, pour over silvery-white limestone terraces on the cliff side. The breathtaking naturally formed castle sits above the ancient spa city of Hierapolis. According to Legend Hierapolis was founded by the God Apollo and the vapors of its sacred hot springs were related to Pluto, God of the Underworld. The ruined city is open to the public, you can take a dip in the ‘Sacred Pool’ and bathe with the timeworn artifacts and sunken pillars. An interesting museum is also on site.

Ephesus

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The second largest ancient city in the world and capital of the Asian Minor during the Roman times, Ephesus boasts a 25,000 seat Amphitheatre and remarkably well preserved marble temples and mosaics.  The 2,000 year old Roman port city is also an acclaimed UNESCO world heritage site and the nearby Temple of Artemis is rated as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’. Also in the area you can find the Ephesus Museum and the Virgin Mary’s house where it is said that Many spent her last nights. All sites are within a short distance from Selcuk a traditional Turkish village with a busy weekly market

There are so many historically interesting sights in Turkey, it is possible to travel from one to another by plane or long bus rides but you may want to consider Cappadocia to Ephesus tour to help get the most out of your Turkish experience.

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