If you’re looking for a destination with fantasy-movie like strange beauty, rich history, amazing culture, insane bazaars and good food then you really have to visit Turkey. By finely balancing age-old traditions with modern influences, Turkey promises travelers an unforgettable…
Heterogeneous Turkey shows influences from the Middle East, Mediterranean, the Balkan peninsula, and Central Asia, but it's much more than its clichéd image of where East meets West. Turkey is a nation straddling eastern Europe and western Asia with cultural connections to ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. From the old world cobblestone streets and cafes to the daily morning call to prayer to the country's complex politics and relationship with its regional neighbors, there is truly no other travel experience quite like Turkey. Ankara is Turkey's modern capital. Stylish Istanbul holds one of the world's youngest populations. Beach towns scattered along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts tempt tourists to resorts, while world-class archaeological sites dot unforgettable desert landscapes. Combined with innovative cuisine, maze-like bazaars, and friendly people, there's something for everyone.
One of the oldest regions in the world, Turkey has a rich historical story, and you must understand a few chapters in order to truly appreciate it. Turkey is at a constant crossroads, and has a dual identity because of European and Asian influences. So many words come to mind when you see the beauty of Turkey. Not only beautiful but also unique, not only sights but unforgettable experiences. Turkey offers nothing less than a good life with happy memories. This is what vacation in Turkey is.
Official Site : https://www.goturkey.com/
Turkey is a year round destination depending on your itinerary. Although the tourist high season is from mid-April through mid-September, Spring and Fall are the best seasons to travel. The sun is warm and skies are generally clear. You can expect mild to warm temperatures and some rain during this time. We recommend traveling outside the peak months and try to go either in spring or early fall. In May and October you can benefit from smaller crowds while the weather is really good. Winters can get so cold in Turkey that the country is also a winter sports destination (for some). Popular Turkish destinations like Istanbul, Bodrum or Antalya can get very crowded during summer.
Language : Turkish
Currency : [TRY] Turkish Lira
Timezone : GMT +3
Airports : Ankara Esenboga Airport [ESB], Istanbul Airport [IST], Adnan Menderes Airport [ADB], Antalya Airport [AYT]
Annual Number of Visitors : 51.9 million (2019)
VISA : https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/
Whether to get by, order food, ask for directions, or just have a simple conversation with a local, learn some phrases in Turkish (it is fun too). At this junction where the east meets the west, Turkey gives you the freedom to dress as you please. Haggling in Turkey is a unique practice where the shopkeeper invites you over for a cup of Turkish tea to sit and bargain. No matter if you’re shopping off the streets or in the thick of local bazaars, make sure you bargain and compare prices around several shops. Beware of scams in Istanbul. Public transport in Istanbul is quite convenient, and cabs are easily available past midnight. The Turkish people are truly kind hearted. Make the best of it, even though lack of a common language may impose a barrier. There is so much good food in Turkey for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Of course, Turkish meals vary by region, but remember to gauge your appetite and plan ahead so that you can enjoy the culinary adventure. Turkish culture keeps a strong focus on pride and honor, so it is important to make sure you know how to conduct yourself in certain situations.
Local Culture, Mountains, Beaches, Local Cuisine, Hiking, Camping, City, Off the Beaten Path, Landmarks/Sights, Walking Tours, All Water Activities, Scuba diving, Snorkelling, All Active/Outdoor, Family Friendly, At Sea, Roadtrip, Fishing, Trekking, Golf, Adventure, Off Roading, Diving, Boats, Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Quad Biking, Surfing, Caving, Rock climbing, Mountain biking, Windsurfing, Sea kayaking, Heritage, Nature, Winter sports, Cruise, Hot Air Ballooning
Something is best described only after experiencing it and Turkish Hamam or bath is one of those things. Although the first hammams originated in Arabia, and bath culture was a central part of Roman life, Turkey popularized the tradition (and is most often associated with it) by making hammams available to people of all statuses. These traditional, ancient bath houses have been around for years. Those who have experienced it recommend others to try it on a Turkey tour. You must try at least once being scrubbed and massaged. The hammam ritual is rather simple, but it does involve several steps – all aimed at cleansing and relaxing – which many modern-day hammams still utilize. You can visit historical hamams or a Turkish bath in a hotel.
Turkey is a veritable delight for shopaholics. It boasts of some truly magnificent shopping options that will make any shopaholic get into a frenzy. Spending a day in one of Turkey’s bazaars – from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar to the quieter, tourist-free bazaars in the east – is a sight in itself! The hustle and bustle, the smells, the people and the energy in these places is phenomenal. You can find everything you are looking for in urban international malls, local shops or from the street. From the oldest bazaar in the world to one of the largest shopping malls in Europe, Turkey holds a fascinating mix of old and new – making it the perfect destination to stock up on traditional arts and crafts as well as modern fashion. Istanbul is a place for shopping local and international brands of shoes and clothes and Cappadocia is popular for carpets, ceramics, rugs and more.
Nightlife in Istanbul
One of the most vibrant cities in terms of nightlife, Istanbul offers different opportunities to nightlife enthusiasts 24/7. With all kinds of events ranging from nightclubs to festivals, from concerts to parties, from live music bars to street parties; Istanbul never sleeps. Nightlife in Istanbul is multifarious, ranging from some rooted establishments to hip clubs, from partying by the sea to underground rock cafes, from gigantic venues to cosy live music bars. All these nightlife choices are scattered around the city, which boasts several centers when it comes to nightlife. The nightlife, both dining and going out has never been more abundant. Within a range from affordable to ultra luxury, Istanbul offers world’s best tastes and entertainment for its guests. In Istanbul, there is something for everyone; bars playing rock, jazz or blues, dance clubs, traditional taverns called meyhane.
Hot Air balloon ride in Cappadocia
For those with an eye for natural beauty, a balloon tour is an essential part of any visit. From the moment of takeoff, around sunrise, the spectacular landscape of Cappadocia enchants the passenger. You will feel as if you are in a dream, drifting gently past fairy chimneys, through valleys scattered with pigeon houses and over orchards and vineyards. The diverse colors and vistas of the flight will make for beautiful photographs and unforgettable memories.
Blue Cruise in the Aegean Sea
Blue Cruise and Turkey are synonymous with each other because, after all, it is where the famed Blue Cruise was invented. Sailing on a luxury yacht or a beautiful gulet is one of the best ways to experience Turkey, and many who have done it once return year after year to do it again. Until you’ve traveled along the south west coast of this country you really haven’t seen the pristine beauty that it offers, and while you get a good idea from land, the best views are undoubtedly from the sea. Blue Cruise or Blue Voyage is once in a lifetime experience through Turkish Riviera, Aegean, and the Mediterranean Sea. The week-long cruise journey encompasses several provinces in Turkey where you go through ancient cities, harbors, tombs, warm sea, fine beaches, and spectacular mountain scenery. Here you can lower anchor for the night, swim ashore, dive, or simply relax on board.
The Hittits, Hellens, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and the Ottomans as well as a great number of other civilizations rose and fell here through thousands of years, leaving behind a multitude of historical sites. Turkey sits at the crossroads between Asia and Europe and saw several empires, civilizations, and events that one cannot get them all in brief. But one can surely experience them in the ruins and landmarks of those times in Turkey. And if there is a little exploratory nature in you, you must visit Turkey for its remarkable archaeological sites. Once one of the main cultural and economic centres of its time, you’ll have the best opportunity to view magnificent architectural structures in Ephesus, including a 70,000 seat stadium, a theatre and the Library of Celsus. The ancient site of Pergamon is also popular.
One of the main highlights of traveling around Turkey is definitely the food, which has ancient origins where recipes have been cooked for hundreds of years until perfection. It’s the perfect activity for relaxing and experiencing a chunk of the Turkish culture and everyday life. The country’s culinary traditions have survived over 1,300 years and incorporate a delicious mixture of Balkan, Middle Eastern and central Asian influences. It’s one of the most diverse cuisines in the world, and there is an abundance of traditional dishes to eat in Turkey. Moreover, each region has its own specialties and regional recipes for classics. Whether you are a foodie or not, you must try corba – a delicious soup, kumpir – baked potato, kofte – meatballs, kebab and baklava and more in the streets and restaurants.
The endless coastline in Turkey has created some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and they come in plenty of variety with everything from sand to pebbles and cliff beaches. Turkey is an amazing place to connect to nature with beautiful places such as stunning beaches in Bodrum, Antalya, and Izmir. The sandy beaches are splendid and the sea, especially the Aegean coastline, is most amazing. If you want to experience beach bliss, then like millions, you must head to Turkey where some of the super stunning beaches such as Kabak beach, Blue Lagoon, Cleopatra’s Beach, Patara beach, Iztuzu Beach and more are calling you.
A lot of cultures have had Turkey as their home, and various times and epochs have influenced the society, which has made the Turkish society diverse and multi-cultural. Turks are in general very friendly and have a great hospitality. Don’t be surprised if they invite you for some Caj or coffee, or even sometimes for dinner, even if you’re a stranger. Sit at a long table in a taverna in Istanbul, Kusadasi, Bodrum, Antalya, Marmaris or any other city and order a glass of beer, wine or pungent Turkish Raki and join in the songs and stories. Turkish people revel in good food, good friends, good times, and good nightlife. This kind of hospitality and friendliness, you will probably not find anywhere else in the world.
You won’t find as wonderful natural attractions anywhere in the world as you see in Turkey. Due to its active geological past, the country hosts a wealth of other beautiful landscapes and scenery. With 44 national parks protecting its rich flora and fauna, the country’s natural heritage is well-worth exploring. Situated in central Turkey is the otherworldly Cappadocia. A fascinating landscape consisting of thousands of bizarre, conical-shaped rocks with pointed tips. UNESCO World Heritage-listed Pamukkale is also unlike anything you will have witnessed before. This natural phenomenon features calcium-based white terraces filled with warm mineral water. Boasting a sparkling coastline and gorgeous beaches, it’s no wonder Turkey is also famous as a beach resort destination.
No other city in the world straddles two continents – sprawling across the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus Strait. Founded by the Greeks, later capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire, Istanbul blossomed anew at the heart of the Moslem Ottoman Empire following its capture by the Turks in 1453. Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities. There are so many wonderful reasons why you should visit this city. Istanbul is old, dating back thousands of years, and with that, there are many historical places to visit. Istanbul is gorgeous, with its assortment of mosques and their colorful tile work and dramatic architecture. Istanbul is charming – you’ll meet so many welcoming, friendly people there.
Located on the shores of the Aegean Sea, west of the Anatolian Peninsula, İzmir is the third-largest city in Turkey. Thanks to its Mediterranean climate, Izmir is mostly sunny during the year. Izmir has dozens of blue flagged beaches along its 629 kms. of coastline. This makes the city a very popular vacation destination where you can find every shade of blue and do all kinds of water sports. It is full of warm and friendly locals, delicious vegetable and seafood dishes, fascinating archaeological ruins, and irresistible beaches. Jump in a horse-drawn carriage and explore the city or take a ferry trip across its spectacular gulf. However you discover Izmir, you will find welcoming hospitality wherever you go.
The city of Ankara lies in the center of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great, high Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850 m above sea level. The name of the city derived from Angora, a very soft fibre produced from the Angora rabbit. The town, once an important trading center on the caravan route to the east, had declined in importance by the 19th century. It became an important center again when Kemal Ataturk chose it as the base from which to direct the War of Liberation. In consequence of its role in the war and its strategic position, it was declared as the capital of the new Turkish Republic in 1923. There are many interesting museums and sites to visit in Ankara, a skiing center nearby, and a fine nightlife.
Kusadasi – one of Turkey’s beach resort town and a major cruise ship destination on the western Aegean coast – offers an excellent environment for an unforgettable holiday. Kusadasi is reputed for being one of the most attractive cities of the Aegean and it is a jumping-off point to many important historical sites. Excursions such as boat trips, aqua parks, jeep safari, scuba diving and horse safaris ensure a fun action packed family holiday. Those preferring a more laid back experience can relax on one of the numerous sandy beaches Kusadasi has to offer, which are host to sun-beds, umbrellas and different water-sports. Kusadasi is a shopper’s paradise with an endless range of shops and bazaars offering excellent value.
The Antalya Region, offering all the mysticism of past in our day, is now called the “Turkish Riviera” due to its archaeological and natural beauties. Antalya is the place where sea, sun, history and nature constitute a perfect harmony and which also includes the most beautiful and clearest coast along the Mediterranean. Antalya and its surrounding is an important and noteworthy touristy center on the Mediterranean Coast with its perfect climate and splendid harmony of archaeological, historical and natural beauties. Antalya is really a heavenly place where the summer season is about 8-9 months long. The mythological city which housed the Gods and Goddesses now exhibits all its secrets and marvels to mankind.
Goreme is a mysterious ancient place that still arouses curiosity for centuries. The wonders of nature meet with the mysteries of history exactly at this point. The geological formation of Goreme’s tuffaceous lands dates back to 60 million years ago when Mount Erciyes was an active volcano. After the flowing lava cooled down, the power of wind and water sculpted it patiently. As a result, fabulous cone-shaped fairy chimneys appeared in the Cappadocian valleys and Goreme area. The reason why the region was so attractive as a settlement in the past is that these fairy chimneys are so soft that they can easily be carved. Goreme is a very attractive sightseeing area with its numerous valleys.
Cappadocia’s weird landscape is what makes it magical. Its strange beauty is unique and we doubt if you will ever see a place like this anywhere else on the planet. You may not ever get a chance to visit another planet, but a visit to Cappadocia will make you forget you’re on Earth. Cappadocia is a beautiful region in central Turkey famous for its fairytale scenery, cave dwellings, remarkable rock formations and, of course, the hundreds of hot air balloons that soar in the sky during sunrise each morning. There is also so much awesome hiking in Cappadocia, that it will take you at least a week to explore all of the diverse hiking trails in the region.
The Turkish town of Selçuk, just inland from the Aegean coast is a small, provincial and peaceful place that is likely to bring some welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of Turkey’s other major cities. And with a plethora of things to do in and around Selçuk, including one of Turkey’s most prominent set of ruins, it’s easy to spend a few days, strolling, sightseeing and soaking it all in. Set in Turke’s western province – loosely the Aegean Coast area – Selçuk has several good transport connection options, most of which link up in the region’s capital Izmir. You don’t even need to worry about getting around Selçuk, as this tiny town is easily walkable in any direction. Plus strolling the streets here and enjoying the glimpse of local life you’ll get, is a delight.
The surreal, brilliant white travertine terraces and warm, limpid pools of Pamukkale hang, like the petrified cascade of a mighty waterfall, from the rim of a steep valley side in Turkey’s picturesque southwest. Truly spectacular in its own right, the geological phenomenon that is Pamukkale, literally “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, is also the site of the remarkably well-preserved ruins of the Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis. With such a unique combination of natural and man-made wonders it’s little wonder that Pamukkale-Hierapolis has been made a UNESCO World Heritage site. The best way to enjoy an uncrowded visit is to spend the night in Pamukkale village, which has plenty of accommodation, then explore the formations and ancient site the following morning.
Bodrum is on a craggy peninsula where bays with clear, glistening waters are sheltered between headlands. Here you can divide your time between thrilling archaeology and a sun lounger by a shimmering cove. A city that’s situated on the place of the ancient city of Halikarnassos. There are clues from the city of Halicarnassus all over town, at the theatre, Myndos Gate and the site of that mausoleum. Nowadays it’s a popular tourist destination with lovely beaches, restaurants, boats, and much more. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was built in what is now the modern resort of Bodrum on the Aegean Sea.
History of Harran, a prominent city in the northern area of Mesopotamia, can be dated back to the 3rd millennium on Ebla tablets which describe one of the royal family becoming queen of Harran. During the height of this ancient city, it remained part of the evolving Assyrian Kingdom. Today the town of Harran has a unique mix of ancient buildings and modern life together. Near the new building built by locals, there are mud-brick ‘Beehive’ houses, which are built with a gently sloped roof that resembles the build of a natural beehive. The Grand Mosque is one of the oldest mosques built in Anatolia, and it draws people from all over the world to Harran to visit the ‘Paradise mosque’.
Konya is a city south of Ankara in Turkey’s Central Anatolia region. It’s a pilgrimage destination for Sufis, focused on the tomb of the founder of the Mevlana order, Jelaleddin Rumi. Sema whirling dervish ceremonies take place at the Mevlana Cultural Center, east of the museum. The city derives considerable charm from this juxtaposition of old and new. Ancient mosques and the maze-like market district rub up against contemporary Konya around Alaaddin Tepesi, where hip-looking university students talk religion and politics in the tea gardens. Konya treads a delicate path between its historical significance and a bastion of Seljuk culture, and its modern importance as an economic boom town.
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
This cathedral was constructed in 537 AD. For 900 years it was the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. The Hagia Sophia was the single greatest architectural achievement of the Byzantine Empire. In 1453, when the Ottomans took over Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque. Standing beneath its 55m-high dome is a humbling experience. Easily missed are the Viking graffiti scratched on the balustrade of the south gallery, and the superb mosaic of the Virgin and child flanked by the Byzantine emperors Constantine and Justinian above the doorway as you exit the church via the Vestibule of Warriors.
Derinkuyu underground city, Cappadocia
As Cappadocia’s largest underground city, Derinkuyu has approximately seven floors and runs 85 m deep. It contains all the usual rooms found in an underground city: stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churches, wineries, etc. The compound even includes a missionary school, a large room featuring a vaulted ceiling and study rooms set apart on the left. Vertical staircases take care of the descent down from the third and fourth floors, leading to a cruciform plan church on the lowest floor. The 55 m deep ventilation shaft was also used as a well.
Red Valley, Cappadocia
When it comes to hiking in Cappadocia, it is hard to go past Red Valley. The Sharp sandstone ridges glow a deep, vibrant red as the sun burns into the unique landscape in the last moments of the sunset each night. There is a great trail loop including Meskindir and Rose Valley or you can drive straight to the sunset viewpoint to chill at the cafe or hike to the top of the flag viewpoint. The hike is joined with Rose Valley in most cases and leads you through an ancient church inside one of the caves, past yellow sandstone rock formations and incredible cave dwellings.
Love Valley, Cappadocia
Love Valley is set just outside of Goreme and you can hike all the way through Love Valley to Uchisar Castle, passing by the rock formations up close on a trail. It is a relatively flat, peaceful walk through to Uchisar taking 1-2 hours. The rock formations are phallic shapes, which is why the valley full of penis-shaped rocks got its name, ‘Love Valley’. It’s truly one of the most unique places to visit in Cappadocia.
This is the nucleus of the city which embraced many civilizations during its time. It is now restored and has became an attractive touristy center with its hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment facilities. Kaleici, dotted with Byzantine, Ottoman and Roman ruins, including Hadrian’s Gate, retains all the original ancient Turkish archaeological characteristics. The port’s marina has been completely restored and is well worth visiting.
Goreme Open-Air Museum
The area, which is called Goreme Open Air Museum and constitutes a valley, hosted a very busy monastery life for 1000 years. St. Basil, the Bishop of Kayseri who held an important place in the history of Christians, came here in the 4th century and started the monastery system where religious and thought education was given. The churches carved into rock blocks, chapels, living areas, dining halls, toilets, tombs, and details that tell you about history are of a kind you will not meet elsewhere. It is a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the top places to see in Goreme.
Travertines of Pamukkale (thermal pools)
Pamukkale means, “cotton castle” in Turkish and it’s a natural site that’s located near Denizli in Turkey. This town is famous for its hot springs and massive white limestone terraces (travertine). Travertine is a form of limestone deposit that is formed from mineral springs. Pamukkale has been a ‘spa town’ since the Romans arrived in the ancient city of Hierapolis. Miles and miles of white calcium cliffs with multi-level pools as if Mother Nature had created them for her children to bathe in! Pamukkale’s thermal pools and travertines are surely a bizarre sight.
Cleopatra Pools, Pamukkale
As you cross all the travertines and reach the top, you will reach Cleopatra Pools. It is believed that Cleopatra swam here as a part of her daily beauty regime because the water is mineral rich. If you’re in a mood for a swim, the Cleopatra Pools are better as compared to the travertines. The mineral-rich swimming pool is large and had many shady areas where one can sit.
Hierapolis is an ancient city located on the top of the travertine pools. Some of the structures here are around 2,200 years old and are still standing with their unique story to tell. A visit to this ancient village will inspire you to imagine how it would have been when it was occupied in the early years. It is believed that the people of Pergamum built Hierapolis. There is a mix of Roman, Pagan, Jewish and early Christian influences.
Güvercinada is a peninsula in western Turkey connected to mainland Kuşadası via a relatively narrow, man-made causeway which is 350 m in length. On the Güvercin Island, there is an inner fortress built by Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha and fortress walls built by İlyas Aga. These walls were built to protect against the attacks expected from Greek islanders and from the sea during the Mora Revolt.
Mount Nemrut, also known as Nemrut Dagi is a 2,134 m high mountain in the south-east of Turkey. The peak is amidst the Anti-Taurus Range, between the provincial capital of Malatya and Kahta. The mountain is notable for its vast range of statues at a 1st-century tomb on its summit. These mysterious statues have become a symbol of Turkey, and when combined with the stunning scenery, make for a mystical visit. In 1987 the site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bodrum Castle, Bodrum
On a promontory east of Bodrum’s harbour stands Bodrum Castle, built in the beginning of the 15th century by the Knights Hospitaller. This location has been fortified for more than 3,000 years and is the likely setting for the palace of Mausolus from the 4th century BCE. One of many absorbing things about this building is that stonework from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was recycled for its walls, either turned into dust to make lime, or simply re-used. The castle fell to Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century and became a prison in 1895.
Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, Bodrum
Since the 1960s the castle has hosted a fascinating museum dedicated to the underwater finds made at Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern shipwreck sites around the Turkish Aegean. This is the largest museum in Turkey devoted to this field, presenting a thrilling hoard of Mycenaean copper ingots and vases, Ancient Egyptian seals, royal Carian jewellery, Roman amphorae, Medieval Islamic glassware, a Spanish four-Real piece from the 16th century and loads more. The museum also features two reconstructed shipwrecks from the Bronze Age and Medieval period.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Bodrum
The magnificent tomb that first defined the term “mausoleum” was built in Halicarnassus for the Carian satrap Mausolus (353 BCE). Set on a massive podium, this was a monument of incredible grandeur, 45 m tall and with reliefs on each facade carved by one of the preeminent Greek 4th-century BCE sculptors, Bryaxis, Leochares, Scopas of Paros and Timotheus. It was toppled by earthquakes between 1100 and 1400, and was the last of the six ruined wonders of the ancient world to be destroyed. Most of the marble blocks and polished stone became spolia for Bodrum Castle, but, however modest, the original site of the mausoleum is a humbling place because of what it represents. Many of the finer sculptures were removed in the 19th century and have ended up in the British Museum, but the surviving reliefs, fluted columns and a stairway give a tantalising glimpse of what came before.
The site of a succession of great ancient civilizations, Ephesus, on the south-west coast of modern Turkey, embodied a peculiarly fertile synthesis of architecture and culture. During the 2nd century BC, Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the eastern Roman Empire, famous for its Artemesium, the Library of Celsus and its medical school. Ephesus was one of the few metropolises of the ancient world and it was Asia Minor’s financial, political and cultural capital. The relics found in excavations prove it was a glorious city in its time. Second only to Rome in its importance as a centre of the Empire, Ephesus is huge and we’d suggest allowing a whole afternoon to wander its ancient streets and marvel at its vast mass of ruins. If you go in the afternoon, the late daylight will also give you some great snaps. With no shade, we’d advise bringing a hat, water and sunscreen for your trip to Efes. And, of course, your camera.
Theatre of Halicarnassus, Bodrum
The Greek-style theatre was constructed during the reign of Mausolus in the 4th century BCE and later enlarged by the Romans in the 2nd century CE. Its architect had an eye for the spectacular, as the theatre has a stirring view out to the Aegean from its cavea. In its heyday this venue could seat around 13,000 people, and enough survives today that it can be used as a stage for cultural events throughout the high season.
Basilica of St. John, Selçuk
It is believed that the evangelist St. John had spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and buried in the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. Three hundred years after the death of St. John, a small chapel was constructed over the grave in the 4th century. The church of St John was changed into a marvelous basilica during the region of Emperor Justinian (527 -565 AD). It was modeled after the now lost Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. While the ruins are great, it’s the elevated views here that really seal the deal. Heading up there for sunset would be a great choice.
Temple of Artemis, Selçuk
The Temple of Artemis or Artemision, also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to an ancient, local form of the goddess Artemis. It was completely rebuilt three times, and in its final form was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. If you visit today, you can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvelous construction of the Hellenistic Age, entirely made of marble and full of sculptured columns’ capitals and shafts.
House of Virgin Mary, Selçuk
The House of the Virgin Mary is a Catholic and Muslim shrine located on Mt. Koressos in the vicinity of Ephesus, 7 kms. from Selçuk. It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. Indeed, she may have come in the area together with St. John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity. Mary preferred this remote place rather than living in crowded place. The house of Virgin Mary is a typical Roman architectural example, entirely made of stones. In the 1980s, during his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of Virgin Mary as a pilgrimage place for Christians. It is also visited by Muslims who recognize Mary as the mother of one of their prophets.
Çetin Village Culture Museum, Selçuk
Çetin Village Culture Museum which is located 300 metres away from the Kuşadası roundabout on Pamucak-Seferhisar- Kuşadası road. Ayhan Cetin and his wife Nazmiye Çetin have founded this museum to preserve the culture of local villages as well as paying homage to their childhood memories. The museum opened its doors in 2000 and the life in a typical 50’s village is depicted here through models, figurines, miniatures, statues and paintings. The museum consists of 2 parts. As you enter through the gates you find yourself in a typical village where you can see life sized models of wool spinning, carpet weaving women, hammersmiths, blacksmiths, tinsmiths in rooms that are decorated traditionally. Motion and sound effects used in these compositions take visitors to a unique journey in the past. The second part of the museum consists of a miniature village where scenes of local culture are reflected in and extraordinarily detailed way.
Sümela Monastery, Trabzon
The building itself, constructed in the midst of the rocks, combined with its natural setting lends Sümela Monastery a mystical appearance. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful monasteries on earth. According to legend, the current site of the Sümela Monastery was once a church, but two monks named Barnabas of Athens and Sophronios had the same dream, which persuaded the Greek Emperor of Trabzon, Alexios III to build the monastery. It is believed that before the monastery was built, the church had been there for a century. The Sümela Monastery was built on the top of rocks atop of a hill on the banks of the Panagia river, 1,150 m above sea level.
Temple of Apollo, Side
A visit to the ruins of the Apollo Temple makes for a fascinating experience for lovers of romance and history. It is believed to be the place where Anthony met Cleopatra; he presented the Apollo Temple as a token of his love and devotion to her. Even without the romantic angle, the Apollo Temple is a magnificent work of architecture dating back to 2nd century AD. What made it different from other temples of that era, is its antechamber which had a pair of massive Corinthian columns. It was built in honor of Apollo, the god of light and music.
Atatürk's House Museum, Antalya
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk arrived to Antalya for the first time in March of 1930 with a very vital reason – he was just staying in Izmir, but the weather was extremely cold, so he decided to flee to the south for warmth and sunshine. Atatürk’s House is a museum that aims at commemoration of the visits to Antalya of the first president of the Turkish Republic. Although the current building is just a replica of the house where Atatürk actually stayed, the exhibitions inside may prove to be very enlightening, especially concerning the attitude of the Turks to Atatürk and his vision.
Hadrian's Gate, Antalya
Antalya’s most beautiful monument is undoubtedly the monumental gate leading into the Kaleiçi. It is called the Hadrian’s Gate or the Triple Gate.The Hadrian’s Gate is a triumphal arch located in Antalya which was built in the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who visited the city in the year AD 130. It is the only remaining entrance gate in the walls that surround the city and harbor. It was incorporated in the walls surrounding the city, and has become a major gateway to the city. Two towers, standing on both sides of the gate, come from different periods of history.
The Lycian Rock Tombs, Myra
These are the most numerous of all types of Lycian tombs and some are perhaps the most visually striking – elaborate funeral chambers carved directly into the rock face, usually into a cliff. Most often, the tombs are carved like the facade of timber Lycian houses with protruding beams, usually with one or two stories, sometimes three. It is believed that the first house-type rock-cut tombs were carved in the 5th century BC. All pre-Greek people of Anatolia built beautiful monumental tombs associated with some form of ancestor worship.
About 80 kms. southwest of Antalya, near the town of Çıralı in southwestern Turkey, lies a rocky mountain that’s been literally on fire for thousands of years. About a dozen flames burn on the side of the mountain fueled by methane gas that issue through the vents. The fires, called Yanartaş in Turkish, have been burning for at least 2500 years. The fires are grouped over an area of 5,000 square meters and are fueled by gas emissions consisting mostly of methane and hydrogen, both of which are inflammable. For hundreds of years, sailors could see the flames from sea and used them as a landmark to navigate, but today they are more often used by hikers to brew tea.
The Ruins Of Ani
Situated on the eastern border of Turkey, across the Akhurian River from Armenia, lies the empty, crumbling site of the once-great metropolis of Ani, known as “the city of a thousand and one churches.” Founded more than 1,600 years ago, Ani was situated on several trade routes, and grew to become a walled city of more than 100,000 residents by the 11th century. In the centuries that followed, Ani and the surrounding region were conquered hundreds of times – Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Armenians, nomadic Kurds, Georgians, and Russians claimed and reclaimed the area, repeatedly attacking and chasing out residents. By the 1300s, Ani was in steep decline, and it was completely abandoned by the 1700s.
Velvet fortress, Izmir
Velvet fortress, known as Kadife kale in Turkish, was built in 3rd C BC by one of the generals of Alexander the Great on his recommendation after he had been told in his dream by pagan gods. It is on the hill of mount Pagos, which is about 155 m from the sea level and 3 kms far away from down town, commanding a beautiful scenery of the port and a large view of the greater Izmir. The remains which are visible today, are the western walls and five towers in southern part. Outer parts have been completely destroyed. The remains of a long and deep cistern with terra cotta pipes gives us the information about the city’s water supply.
Greek Agora, Izmir
Agora or Forum was the market place in ancient times in the sense of political meeting place and shopping area. The agora in Izmir was used as a state agora for politics. Great columns, porticos, collonnaded walkways for shoppers or listeneres, stores with rounded arches and statues of Demeter and Poseidon make a great impact on visitors reminding them of the Roman times. The agora was built in 4th Century BC on the hill of mount Pagos and was enlarged during the Roman times with new alterations.
Clock Tower, Izmir
As true symbol of the city, this clock tower is always featured in films set in Izmir. Izmir’s best-known meeting point is the Clock Tower, which was built in 1901 by the Levantine French architect Raymond Charles Pere. The tower is in Konak Square and it was built by Grand Vizier Sait Pasha because of Sultan Abdul Hamid’s 25th anniversary of accession to the throne. The clock on the tower was gifted to the tower by German emperor Willhem II to the Sultan.
This is for sure one of the best examples of a public elevator the world has to offer. Two separate elevators operate in this tower to save tourists and residents walking the 155 steps between two streets. The design of the elevator has been drawn as castle-like structure having double lifts, one working with steam power, the other with electricity. The stone used on the walls of the structure have been brought from Marseille. During the restoration in 1985 both lifts were turned into electricity. If you happen to visit Izmir one day, it is strongly recommended to use the lift in order to see a splendid view of Izmir bay.
Lake Tuz, Aksaray
Lake Tuz is an incredible salt lake near Aksaray but only just over an hour drive away from Cappadocia. The lake is like remarkable because of its vibrant pink color. Despite how unique this location is, it’s not very popular. Enjoy the vibrancy of the pink lake in full sunshine as well as the pastel sunset reflections later on. The most interesting part about the lake is the density of the salt formations. It will appear as if you are walking on pure salt. Lake Tuz is the second largest lake in Turkey and it occupies a ‘tectonic depression’ and is fed water by two major streams but has no outlet at all.
Zelve Open-Air Museum, Cappadocia
The Zelve Open-Air Museum is an incredible site that once housed one of the largest communities in Cappadocia. In this incredible cave town, you can walk amongst historic dwellings, churches, and religious chambers as well as the town square. Zelve Open-Air Museum is just 8 kms. from Goreme city-center. The trail is quite small but it leads off in many directions. Throughout the walk in the three valleys, you will find dwellings, religious chambers, secular chambers, stables, and even the town square.
Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia
The Ihlara Valley is an incredible gorge with a stunning river running right down the heart of the valley for 16 kms. within the volcanic rock. It is near the province of Aksaray but still considered part of the southern Cappadocia region. It’s a great spot for a relatively easy walk amidst some peaceful, leafy nature as well as being a hub for cave churches, of which you will find many along the trail.It was created after several eruptions of the nearby Mount Erciyes and the Melendiz Stream winds through the gorge creating an idyllic, peaceful atmosphere with birds chirping, dragonflies zipping about and even turtles and frogs on the river banks.
Uchisar Castle, Cappadocia
Uchisar Castle is placed in Uchisar village, between Nevsehir and Goreme road. Having a geostrategic position, dominating whole city from the top of the heap, this magnificent castle presents the visitors a dreamy panorama with its miraculous landscape. It takes approximately 120 steps to climb the peak of this glorious fortress. Uchisar Fortress has been a member of UNESCO World Heritage List since 1985.
The Blue Mosque, Istanbul
The Blue Mosque, known as the Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish, is a historical mosque built in Istanbul in the early 17th century. Known for the beautiful blue tiles lining its interior walls, it is both an active mosque and popular tourist attraction. The Blue Mosque was the grand project of Sultan Ahmed I and his tomb can still be found inside. It was built by the Ottoman sultan between 1609 – 1616 facing Hagia Sophia, in order to compete with it. There are 3 entrances to the mosque, and after entering inside one gets shocked by the floral and geometrical interior decoration and beauty of over 21 thousand Iznik (Nicea) tiles, about 260 windows with stained glass, and calligraphy art of Koranic verses. The 34 m high central dome is surrounded by smaller domes and semi-domes to distribute the heavy weight of the main dome, and all of them are supported by 4 huge pillars (called “elephant legs”).
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
The Grand Bazaar (Kapalicarsi in Turkish) is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. It was built of wood after the Conquest of Istanbul around an old Byzantine building which became the part of the Old Bedesten (Old Bazaar) today, and got bigger and larger throughout the centuries with the addition of new sections and inns. It resembles a giant labyrinth and can be a little complicated for the first-time visitor, but after a couple of visits there you can familiarize with it because streets are arranged almost on a grid plan, and shops tend to group themselves according to the type of goods they sell. With its kaleidoscope of colorful lanterns, its friendly people, and its maze of hallways, the Grand Bazaar is a joy to explore.
Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul
The Dolmabahce Palace is located along the European shore of the Bosphorus Strait. Originally there was a shallow bay where the Ottoman fleet used to anchor their ships. After the 17th century the coast was filled in and converted into a nice garden with a couple of pavilions. Dolmabahce literally means “filled garden” in Turkish. With over 110,000 sq m of construction on 250,000 sq m of land, it sure is an impressive palace on the Bosphorus. Just outside of the palace, Dolmabahce Mosque was built at the same time and the Clock Tower was built shortly afterwards.
Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
Byzantine cistern from the 6th century built by Justinian I and is located to the south-west of Hagia Sophia. The water was brought from Belgrade Forest, 19 kms. to the north of Istanbul, and it had a capacity to store 100,000 tons of water. It features fine brick vaulting supported by 336 various type of columns brought here from different parts of the Empire. The Basilica Cistern, or Underground Cistern as locals call it, used to host musical and theatrical performances and a Biannual. There are also two Medusa friezes brought from the Temple of Apollo in Didim. The only way is up from the subterranean depths of the Basilica Cistern.
Galata Tower, Istanbul
The Galata Tower, Galata Kulesi in Turkish, is one of the highest and oldest towers of Istanbul. 63 m high tower provides a panoramic view of the old town. It was built in the 14th century by the Genoese colony as part of the defense wall surrounding their district at Galata directly opposite ancient Constantinopolis. A couple of elevators will take you up but there are still three more floors to climb by stairs to get on the panoramic terrace which is 52 m above the ground.
Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
The Topkapi Palace is the biggest and one of the most popular sites to visit in Istanbul. It was built in between 1466 and 1478 by the sultan Mehmet II on top of a hill in a small peninsula, dominating the Golden Horn to the north, the Sea of Marmara to the south, and the Bosphorus strait to the north east, with great views of the Asian side as well. The palace was the political center of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries, until they built Dolmabahce Palace by the waterside. Local people call it as “Topkapi“, which in Turkish means “Gate of Cannons”, because of huge cannons displayed outside of its gates.
Mosque of Suleyman, Istanbul
Suleymaniye mosque, or better known as the mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent, was built in the 16th century by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. It stands on a hilltop dominating the Golden Horn and contributing to the skyline of Istanbul. The mosque is the largest mosque of Istanbul. The mosque is less ornate respect to the other mosques of the time, but its simple decorations gives another atmosphere to this masterpiece.
Maiden's Tower, Istanbul
Kizkulesi is located off the coast of Salacak neighborhood in Üsküdar district, at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus. It literally means “Maiden’s Tower” in Turkish. Kizkulesi is dating back to the 5th century BC when it was built by the Athenian general Alcibiades on a rock at the entrance of the Bosphorus for the surveillance of the waterway. It offers 360 degree views of the Bosphorus and the old city, especially at night. There are several shuttle boats going to the tower at certain times.
Istiklal Street, Istanbul
Istiklal Street is a famous street in the New District of Istanbul. It is a pedestrian street that can get very crowded. This area definitely feels different than the rest of Istanbul. But it is a beautiful street, especially with the tram that runs up and down the road. Many people have a love/hate relationship with the ever-bustling Istiklal Avenue, İstiklal Caddesi in Turkish, that runs from Taksim Square nearly all the way to the landmark Galata Tower.
Miniaturk is also named as the “Showcase of Turkey”, where you can find many important structures of Turkey in small scales, models of architectural masterpieces representing the Anatolian and Ottoman civilizations. Models of 105 historical and architectural works, all made in the scale of 1/25. There is also a miniature railway network, a motorway with moving vehicles, an airport with moving airplanes, thousands of human figures, and ships sailing across the Bosphorus. These dynamic models make Miniaturk a living park. Built in 2003 on a 60,000 sq m site in the Golden Horn, it is the largest miniature city in the world.
Hippodrome of Constantinople, located in Sultanahmet/Istanbul, was a public arena mainly for chariot races. The word hippodrome comes from the Greek hippos (horse) and dromos (way). The Hippodrome of Constantinople was also home to gladiatorial games, official ceremonies, celebrations, protests, torture to the convicts and so on. The capacity of the hippodrome was approximately 40,000 and it was free and open to male members of the community. The hippodrome was decorated with monuments that were brought in from across the empire including the Serpent Column from Delphi and Obelisk of Thutmosis III from Egypt.