From flaming mountains to hot pools, from the grand theater to the ruins of cities, there is a lot to explore when you visit Turkey. It is no wonder that Turkey is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world. Situated along the lines of Europe and Asia, Turkey occupies a unique position and cultural crossroads of eastern and western influence. In addition, the landscapes are magnificent – from mountains to beaches and offer many activities for visitors.
Here is the list of 10 exciting places to visit in Turkey:
Pamukkale Pools are a warm, natural formation of mineral springs. The terraces look like cotton and hence the name Pamukkale (cotton castle). The sources are built over the centuries by limestone deposits left by running water.
How to get to Pamukkale:
Pamukkale is located in the hills of Denizli province in southwestern Turkey. It is located about 19 km from the town of Denizli.
The best way to experience the uncrowded pools of Pamukkale is to stay overnight in the village of Pamukkale and get to the pools early. Tourists don’t arrive until later in the day and you can enjoy the peace here.
Pamukkale is also known for the well-preserved ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis, which was originally built around a hot spring and is 700 meters from Pamukkale. You can spend a day here to visit these ruins.
2. Gobekli Tepe – The first temple in the world
Gobekli Tepe is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and located in the southeastern Anatolian region of Turkey. You can access it from the town of Sanliurfa. The journey takes 12 km to the northeast of the city. There are flights from Istanbul to Sanliurfa. The flight takes about 70 minutes.
There are substantial reasons to claim that the most important archaeological find of the 21st century is the Gobekli Tepe. First of all, it goes back 12 thousand years. In other words, it is about 8 thousand years older than the Pyramids and 7 thousand years older than the Stonehenge.
The mysteries of the site still remain. One thing is certain though – Gobekli Tepe has many more fascinating secrets to reveal. Only 5% of Gobekli Tepe has been excavated. More future work with better types of equipment on the site will undoubtedly shed more light and help us understand a critical stage in the development of human societies.
Why visit Gobekli Tepe
- It is the first temple in the world.
- It is believed to be a neolithic center of faith and pilgrimage.
- The first three-dimensional representations carved in stone can be found here.
- According to scientists, the archaeological discovery of Gobekli Tepe changed human history.
- This proves the existence of religious beliefs before the creation of the first cities.
- It is registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Yanartas means flaming stones in Turkish. And true to its name, the site consists of dozens of small fires that constantly burn through vents in the rocks. From a distance it looks like any other mountain, but once you climb to the top you will see these fires from the vents. Yanartas is located near the Olympos Valley and National Park in the province of Antalya in southwestern Turkey.
You can also visit the ruins of the Temple of Hephaestus, which is directly under the fire. Hephaistos was the Greek god associated with fire through his role as the blacksmith of the gods.
How to reach:
It is 80 km from Antalya city center. To see the fires and ruins, visitors must first go to the entrance at the foot of the mountain. The site is at the top of an easy one kilometer climb. The best time to visit this place is at night, when the fires are the most spectacular.
4. Lost City of Troy-Canakkale
Troy is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world with a rich history spanning 4000 years. Troy is located on the Hisarlık Mound, 3 miles from the southern entrance to the Dardanelles. Archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann undertook the first excavations at the site in 1870, and these excavations could be considered the starting point of modern archeology and its public recognition.
Excavations continued throughout the 20th century and revealed nine different towns – labeled Troy I through Troy IX according to the original classification of Schliemann (and his successor Dorpfeld). He also revealed no less than 46 levels of living on the site. Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998.
5. Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep
Zeugma Mosaic Museum is the largest mosaic museum in the world, with an area of 1,700 square meters. of mosaics. You can go to Gaziantep town to visit here. There are daily flights from Istanbul to Gaziantep and the flights last around 70 minutes.
Mosaic is a pattern or image made up of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramic which are shaped or patterned by plaster / mortar. Mosaics are often used as floor and wall decoration, and were especially popular in the ancient Roman world.
The museum measures 90,000 square feet and includes a 7,500 square foot exhibition hall. The mosaics help you visualize city life in Roman times and provide insight into the belief system of that time. A small piece from the 2nd century AD, the Maenad Mosaic, known as the Gypsy Girl, is one of the most famous mosaics here. The sad eyes of the figure made the piece the museum’s most beloved artefact, and she is considered the Mona Lisa of Zeugma and the symbol of the ancient city and the museum.
Maenad’s mosaic is everywhere – from brochures of the Zeugma Mosaic Museum and its tickets, to pictorial illustrations of the art history of the region, to picture postcards and tourist memorabilia, to the museum’s website. and right next to the door leading to the huge museum building. himself. The Zeugma Mosaic Museum is a valuable repository of great art and a must-see destination for art historians, archaeologists and art lovers interested in cultural history.
6. Mount Nemrut
Mount Nemrut Tumulus is located in Kahta County, 86 km east of Adiyaman City. Nemrut Dag is the Hierotheseion built by the late Hellenistic King Antiochos I of Commagene as a monument to himself. The giant statues on Mount Nemrut represent the gods worshiped by the people of Commagene and were specially constructed to accompany the tomb of King Antiochus.
One of the essential rituals of visiting Mount Nemrut is enjoying the sunrise from the top. You can watch the sunrise with the statues of the gods who have witnessed it for two thousand years. The only thing you need to keep in mind is to bring warm clothes on your way to the top as it is very cold before sunrise and after sunset even in midsummer.
7. Underground cities – Cappadocia
Discover an ancient multi-level underground city in the Derinkuyu district of Nevsehir, Cappadocia. This underground city has 11 levels deep, 600 entrances, and miles and miles of tunnels connecting it to the 40 other underground cities you’ll find in Cappadocia. It’s more than just a place to sleep at night, complete with ventilation shafts, stables, pits, water tanks, cooking pits, common rooms, bathrooms and graves.
Extending to a depth of 60 meters (200 feet), these underground cities are said to have housed up to 20,000 people along with their livestock and food stores. These underground cities are today one of the many famous archaeological tourist attractions. More than 200 underground cities of at least two levels have been discovered in the area between Kayseri and Cappadocia.
8. Aspendos Theater – Antalya
The architectural gem of Aspendos is its theater, the Aspendos Theater. It is widely considered to be the best preserved ancient theater in the world. The theater was built during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Although the theater was built in Roman times, it has many features typical of Greek theaters. You must visit the Aspendos Theater to let its spectacular visuals and architecture tell its story. There are different Aspendos tours that you can do, including self-guided and guided options. The ruins are within walking distance. The great site offers wonderful knowledge and insight into the Roman fortress and the influence in the Turkish region.
It is located 45 km from downtown Antalya and is still a major concert destination today. Every year, the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival is held here, where artists from all over the world participate to perform in one of the largest theaters.
9. Sardis Synagogue, Izmir
Sardis, or Sardis, is the ruined capital of ancient Lydia, located about 90 km west of present-day Izmir, Turkey. This ancient synagogue built in the 3rd century AD is the most important archaeological find in the excavations of Sardis. It is one of the oldest synagogues in Anatolia. The extensive ruins here also include beautiful mosaic tiles. It was the first city where gold and silver coins were minted. The excavations of Sardis have brought to light other remains of the Hellenistic and Byzantine city as well as of the Lydian city. The ruins include the ancient Lydian citadel and around 1,000 Lydian tombs. There is a lot to do and see in Sardis. Sardis is divided by the Izmir-Usak Highway, with the Marble Court and Synagogue on the north side, and the Temple of Artemis on the south, as well as the remains of a Byzantine church, a late Roman villa.
You can visit Sardis from Izmir. It is about 90 km from the city. You can get there by private car or frequent regional minibus or train.
10. Yeralti Camii (underground mosque) – Istanbul
Yeralti Camii is an incredible Ottoman-style mosque set deep in the earth. Unlike most Islamic temples in Istanbul, which are above ground, this mosque is below ground! For this reason, it has been nicknamed the “underground mosque” or “Yeralti Camii” in Turkish.
The mosque is located in Karakoy near the Galata Bridge. You can easily reach by tram (T-1) and metro (Tunel) to Karakoy station. It is also accessible by bus or ferry from Karakoy. The mosque is open to visitors outside of prayer times. You can find two graves – Abu Sufyan and Amiri Wahabi, both believed to have died in the city’s first Arab siege in the seventh century. Their graves were revealed to a Naksibendi dervish in a dream in 1640, after which Sultan Murat IV built a shrine on the site.