TURKEY'S TOP SIGHTS
TURKEY’S TOP SIGHTS (A to Z)
Formerly Angora, famous for mohair, Ankara is the capital of the Turkish Republic. Near its great Roman citadel is the world-famous Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, filled with treasures from the biblical Hittites. You can visit it on the way to Cappadocia.
This lively city, “capital” of the Turkish Riviera, has a quaint Ottoman historic district at its center, and many monuments from Roman times. It’s a good base for excursions to Aspendos, Olimpos, Perge, Phaselis, Side and Termessos.
Settled during the Early Bronze Age, it later became the home of a grand temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Its white marble ruins stand amid fertile fields in a green river valley on the way to Pamukkale
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (1601-180 AD) ordered a great theater to be built at Aspendos near Antalya on the Mediterranean coast. Restored at the order of Ataturk, it is now in excellent condition and still used for performances.
Once known as Halicarnassus, this popular Aegean resort and yachting port reminds many visitors of the French Riviera hot-spot of St Tropez. Bodrum boasts the ruins of the Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as well as the lofty Castle of St. Peter, a Crusader fortress which now serves as the world’s foremost Museum of Underwater Archeology.
Over the centuries, wind and water have sculpted the volcanic bedrock of this Central Anatolian region into weird and fanciful shapes. Early Christians sought refuge in homes, stables, churches and storehouses hollowed from the soft stone. Cave homes, churches and hotels are the attraction here, but a hot-air balloon ride above it all is an unforgettable adventure.
The stupendous Temple of Apollo at Didyma, south of Ephesus, Priene and Miletus, was once the seat of an oracle which rivaled that of Delphi. Construction was begun in 494 BC. Over 2400 years later it’s still not finished, but its ruins are breathtaking in their size and beauty.
Once the capital of Roman Asia, Ephesus is the best-preserved Greco-Roman classical city on the Mediterranean—a breathtaking sight.
Dominating the Dardanelles, Gallipoli was the scene of momentous battles during World War I. Sir Winston Churchill sent the British and ANZAC forces to conquer it, and Ataturk became a war hero by successfully defending it.
Once called Constantinople, this great city has one foot in Europe, the other in Asia. Capital of the Eastern Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, Istanbul once ruled all the lands within a thousand miles. Monuments to its glorious past abound, from sumptuous Topkapı Palace and ancient Hagia Sophia to the Blue Mosque and other great mosques of the sultans.
Turkey’s modern Aegean port is an attractive city with a pretty waterfront promenade and a fascinating bazaar. It’s a good base for visiting Ephesus and Pergamon as well.
One of the oldest cities in Anatolia, Konya was the capital of the Seljuk Turkish Empire and the home of its great poet and mystic, Jelaleddin Rumi, founder of the Mevlevi whirling dervish order. You can visit it along with Cappadocia.
Only 20 km southwest of Ephesus, Kuşadası is a lively fishing and cruise port and seaside resort that can be a base for visits to the ancient cities of Ephesus, Priene, Miletus, and Didyma.
“Green Marmaris,” as it’s known, is a popular Mediterranean resort and active yachting port backed by verdant mountains at the western end of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. It’s also where you board the ferryboat to Rhodes, Greece.
Miletus, between Priene and Didyma on the Aegean coast, flourished as an important commercial and governmental city from 700 BC to 700 AD. Its great theater, which rises from the the flood plain of the Meander River, was built to seat 15,000 spectators—and it still can.
A 3-hour drive east from Ephesus, warm calcium-laden mineral waters spring from the earth to cascade over a steep cliff, forming gleaming white travertine pools. The Romans built the health spa of Hierapolis here. A short drive away are the ruins of biblical Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches of Asia, and also Aphrodisias, the famous City of Aphrodite.
Famed for its great library, the citizens of ancient Pergamon (Pergamum), a 2-3 hour drive north of Ephesus, invented parchment for writing when the supply of papyrus was cut off. Pergamum’s Aesculapium was the most famous classical medical center.
This ancient city a short drive east of Antalya flourished under Alexander the Great and the Romans. It has a fine theater, stadium, and towering Roman city gates.
Set dramatically at the foot of a sheer mountain wall, Priene overlooks the aptly-named Meander River and, in the distance, the great theater at Miletus. This 2500-year-old Ionian city was among the first to be planned with a grid system of streets.
Cleopatra and Marc Antony met in Side, a 2-hour drive east of Antalya, for a romantic tryst. Lovers and beach-goers have been coming ever since. Besides its beaches, Side has some fine ancient buildingsand a good little museum.
Once believed to be only a legend, the ncient city of Troy, a 4-hour drive west of Istanbul near Canakkale and the Dardanelles, was discovered over a century ago. A replica of the Trojan horse towers above the walls breached by cunning in the most famous battle of ancient times.