From fiery mountains to hot pools, and from the grand Theater to the ruins of cities, there is a lot to discover when you visit Turkey. It’s no wonder that Turkey is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world. Located along the lines of Europe and Asia, Turkey has a unique position and cultural crossings of Eastern and Western influence. In addition, the landscapes are beautiful – from the mountains to the beaches and offer many activities for visitors.
Here is the list of 10 exciting places to visit in Turkey:
The Pamukkale pools are a warm and natural formation of mineral springs. The terraces resemble cotton and hence the name Pamukkale (Cotton Castle). The springs have been 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 city of Denizli.
The best way to discover Pamukkale’s uncrowded swimming pools is to spend the night in Pamukkale village and arrive at the pools early. Tourists arrive only after 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 located 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 one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and is located in southeastern Anatolia in Turkey. You can get there from the city of Sanliurfa. The journey is 12 km long to the north-east of the city, there are flights from Istanbul to Sanliurfa. The flight takes about 70 minutes.
There are important reasons to argue that the main archaeological find of the 21st century is the Gobekli Tepe. Firstly, it dates back to 12,000 years ago. In other words, it is about 8 thousand years older than the pyramids and 7 thousand years older than Stonehenge.
The mysteries of the site remain. However, one thing is certain – 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 better understand a critical stage in the development of human societies.
Why visit Gobekli Tepe
- This is the First Temple in the world.
- It is considered a center of faith and pilgrimage in the Neolithic era.
- The first three-dimensional stone images can be found here.
- According to scientists, the archaeological discovery of Gobekli Tepe changed the history of mankind.
- It proves the existence of religious beliefs that predate the founding of the first cities.
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Yanartas means burning stones in Turkish. And true to its name, the site consists of dozens of small fires that are constantly burning from openings in the rocks. From a distance, it looks like any other mountain, but as soon as you climb to the top, you will see these fireworks. Yanartas is located near the Olympus Valley and the national park of Antalya province, in southwestern Turkey.
You can also visit the ruins of the Temple of Hephaestus, located directly under the fire. Hephaestus was the Greek god associated with fire through his role as a blacksmith of the gods.
How to get there:
The distance between Antalya city center and the property is 80 km. To see the fires and the 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 ascent. The best time to visit this place is at night, when the fires are at their most spectacular show.
4. Lost City of Troy-Canakkale
Troy is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world with a rich history of 4,000 years. Troy is located on the Hisarlık Hill, 4.8 km from the southern entrance to the Dardanelles. The archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann undertook the first excavations at the site in 1870, and these excavations can be considered the starting point for modern archaeology and its public recognition.
Excavations continued throughout the 20th century and revealed nine different cities – Troy I to Troy IX -according to the original classification of Schliemann (and his successor Dorpfeld). It also revealed no less than 46 levels of occupancy on the site. Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998.
5. Zeugma Mosaic Museum-Gaziantep
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum is the largest mosaic museum in the world, with 1700 square meters. MT. mosaic. You can go to the city of Gaziantep to visit here. There are daily flights from Istanbul to Gaziantep, and the flights take about 70 minutes.
Mosaic is a pattern or image made of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramics that are shaped or modeled 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 meters and has an exhibition hall of 7,500 square meters. The mosaics help you visualize urban life in Roman times and offer an insight into the belief system of that time. A small piece from the 2nd century AD., the Maenad mosaic, which is popularly known as the gypsy, is one of the most famous mosaics here. The sad eyes of the figure made the piece the most beloved artifact in the museum, and it is considered the Mona Lisa of Zeugma and the symbol of the old town and the museum.
The Maenad mosaic is everywhere-brochures from the Zeugma Mosaic Museum and its tickets, illustrated illustrations of the art history of the region, postcards and tourist souvenirs, the museum’s website and right next door leading to the huge museum building itself. The Zeugma Mosaic Museum is a precious 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 Burial mound is located in Kahta County, 86 km east of the city of Adıyaman. The day of Nemrut is the Hierotheseion built by the Hellenistic king Antiochus 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 built to accompany the tomb of King Antiochus.
One of the essential rituals of visiting Mount Nemrut is to enjoy the sunrise from its summit. You can watch the sunrise with the statues of gods who have witnessed it for two thousand years. The only thing to keep in mind is to take warm clothes with you on the way to the top, because it is very cold before sunrise and after sunset, even in the middle of summer.
7. Underground cities-Cappadocia
Discover an ancient multi-level underground city in the Derinkuyu district of Nevsehir, Cappadocia. This underground city has 11 levels of depth, 600 entrances and kilometers, and kilometers of tunnels connecting it to the other 40 underground cities that you will find in Cappadocia. It is more than just a place to sleep at night, with ventilation shafts, stables, wells, water tanks, wells for the kitchen, common rooms, bathrooms and graves.
These underground cities, which extend to a depth of 60 meters, as well as their livestock and food supplies, would have protected up to 20,000 people. These underground cities are now one of 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 jewel of Aspendos is the theater, the theater of Aspendos. It is widely considered the best preserved ancient theater in the world. The theater was built during the reign of the 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 several tours of Aspendos 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 its influence in the Turkish region.
It is located 45 km from the center of Antalya and is still an important destination for concerts today. Every year the Aspendos international Opera and Ballet festival is held here, where artists from all over the world take part in one of the largest theaters.
9. Sardis Synagogue, Izmir
Sardis, or Sardes, is the ruined capital of ancient Lydia, located about 90 km west of present Izmir, Turkey. This ancient synagogue built in the 3rd century A.D. is the most important archaeological discovery in the Sardis excavations. It is one of the oldest synagogues in Anatolia. The extensive ruins here also include beautiful mosaic tiles. This was the first city where gold and silver coins were minted. Excavations of Sardis have uncovered more remains of the Hellenistic and Byzantine city as well as of Lydian town. The ruins include the ancient Lydian citadel and about 1,000 Lydian graves. 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 to the south, along with remnants of a Byzantine church, a after Roman villa.
You can visit Sardis from Izmir. It is about 90 km from the town. You can go either by private car or by frequent regional minibus or, by train.
10. Yeralti Camii (Underground Mosque) – Istanbul
Yeralti Camii is an awesome Ottoman-styled mosque that is situated sunken into the earth. Unlike most Islamic temples in Istanbul, which are above the ground, this mosque is under the ground! For this reason, it was dubbed the “Underground Mosque,” or “Yeralti Camii” in Turkish.
The mosque is located in Karakoy near Galata Bridge. You can easily reach by Tram (T-1) and tube (Tunel) in Karakoy station. It’s also reachable by bus or ferry from Karakoy. The mosque is open to visitors outside of prayer times. You can find two tombs – Abu Sufyan and Amiri Wahabi, both of whom are supposed to have died in the first Arab siege of the city in the seventh century. Their graves were revealed to a Naksibendi dervish in a dream in 1640, whereupon Sultan Murat IV constructed a shrine on the site.