Top Ten Turkey’s Ancient Wonders
Turkey has one of the most diverse and rich histories in the world and there are plenty of architectural reminders leftover, that are now popular tourist attractions. You will find ruins of ancient temples and buildings that are still standing, both in cities like Istanbul and in beach resorts along the coast, which will give you a fascinating insight into Turkey’s past.
Because of the city’s affluent port, the Romans built massive walls around Antalya, with guarded and easily sealable gates to protect it from invasion. The only surviving gate is Hadrian’s Gate. Constructed in 130 AD, it was commissioned to commemorate Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the city and designed to resemble the Roman triumphal arch. Today you can walk around the ruins and the gate still leads to the Old Town of Antalya.
Located southwest of Antalya city, this ancient city was founded during the Hellenistic period. It is one of Turkey’s most popular tourist attractions, home to artefacts from a whole host of settlers, including the Romans. Today it is little more than a village, the ruins are all overgrown and the beach is an under developed haven Just remember water and sun cream as you won’t be able to buy these here!
Cappadocia is famous for its very unusual rock formations. Göreme in particular is a great place to see these unusual foundations that have earned the term ‘fairy chimneys’. They have been created naturally over the years as wind and water have resulted in the erosion of the Earth leaving only the thickest layer of earth known as ‘tuff’. Since the Roman times, settlers have been living in the rocky pillars, carving into them to make buildings and you can even stay in them today, with a few having been turned into hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Göbekli Tepe is the world’s oldest known religious structure. They are 6000 years older than Stonehenge and situated on top of a hill, six miles outside of Urfa. There are 20 structures that have long been buried, four of which have been uncovered. Each structure is round and up to 100ft tall, all decorated exquisitely by pillars.
Pamukkale and Hierapolis
Literally translating to the ‘cotton castle’, this is surely one of the most surreal and unique sites in Turkey. Layers of rock deposited by water with an extremely high mineral content have created this bizarre foundation of white terraces and springs. The ruins of the ancient Greek city Hierapolis can be seen at the site to this day. The hot springs here range from 35C to 100C and you can bathe in some of them, although you are not allowed to wear shoes to protect the mineral deposits.
The Hagia Sophia was originally a basilica commissioned for the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I in the 6th Century. An awe-inspiring piece of architecture, the dome spans over 100ft in diameter and is instantly recognisable as part of the Istanbul skyline. Now a museum, you can see religious relics and artefacts dating from the Ottoman Empire and go to lectures in history and religion.
The main attraction of the Trabzon Province is the monastery. Built on the side of a steep mountain, overlooking lush forests just south of the city and the Uzungol Lake, it’s no surprise this attraction is popular with those looking to take in not only the history but also the natural beauty of Turkey. The monastery was founded in 386AD and was only abandoned in 1923. Today it is popular with visitors, for the view as much as the religious and historical significance.
No trip to Turkey would be complete without a visit to Ephesus on the west coast. These famous ruins once boasted the Temple of Artemis that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, but was sadly destroyed in 401 AD. Many of the structures can still be seen in the Library of Celsus and a theatre.
House of Virgin Mary
Legend has it that a trip to the house of the Virgin Mary on Mount Koressos, just outside of Ephesus, could leave you for the better if you take a trip to the healing fountain. The house was discovered in the 19th century after a nun had visions that this was where the Virgin Mary had lived. There is a wishing wall shrine outside which people attach wishes and prayers to on bits of paper.
The Blue Mosque
Officially known as the Sultan Ahmed, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is a well-known attraction for those visiting the city of Istanbul. Built in the early 1600s the high ceiling is lined with over 20,000 patterned blue titles (hence the name) and is an object of awe for locals and tourists alike. A great way of seeing this stunning mosque is from a river cruise on the Bosphorus.
So, if you are looking for a holiday destination that has historical sites, beaches, warm weather and delicious cuisine, look no further than Turkey.