Located in the eastern Mediterranean region, Turkey offers visitors an incredible wealth of cultural attractions and intriguing history. From ancient wonders, to bustling bazaars to magnificent palaces, Turkey’s historical landmarks offer every traveler a chance to explore the many layers of its past. Come along on a journey to discover some of the most iconic sites in the country of Turkey.
1. Exploring Turkey’s Historic Sites
Turkey is filled to the brim with historical and cultural sites that have contributed to the nation’s vibrant culture, from small archaeological sites to ancient ruins and ruins. The Temple of Apollo – Didyma. Situated halfway between Istanbul and the ancient port of Miletus, Didyma is easily one of the most well-known historic sites to explore in Turkey. Once known as the oracle of Apollo, this sacred temple was a major center of religious worship in antiquity, and today it’s considered one of Turkey’s most iconic landmarks.
Ancient City of Pergamon. The ancient city is situated on the slopes of the Bakırçay Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once an ancient Greek city, Pergamon played an important role in the development of Hellenistic art and culture. You’ll be amazed by the magnanimous ruins of old-world architecture, from the gods and goddesses depicted in the grandiose Altar of Zeus. The ancient citadel Akropol is also one of the most impressive sights in the area.
St. Nicholas’s Church. Built as a tribute to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, St. Nicholas’s Church is one of the most photographed sites in Turkey. This charming white clapboard church is located on the eastern slope of the Süleymaniye hill and is considered to be one of the oldest surviving Christian sites in the area.
Ephesus Archaeological Site. This popular archaeological site is one of the most important ancient Greek cities in the Mediterranean, explored in detail by the team of archaeologists from the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Vienna. This former harbor town also boasts some of the best-preserved ancient ruins in Turkey, including a labyrinth of cobblestone streets, as well as the Temple of Artemis and the Celsus Library.
Göbekli Tepe. A must-see for any history enthusiast, Göbekli Tepe is one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of the past century. Located in southeastern Turkey on the Anatolian plateau, Göbekli Tepe is an ancient city with its own archeological site that dates back over 11,000 years and has been linked to the origins of agriculture and the Neolithic Revolution. The site includes three main circles of megalithic T-shaped pillars, each of which has been intricately carved to depict various human and animal figures.
Temple of Cybele. Located at the foot of Mount Koressos, the Temple of Cybele is one of the oldest ruins in Turkey, built in honor of the mother goddess in the 5th century BCE. Located southeast of Pergamon and northwest of Troy, the temple features an impressive array of ancient stone monuments, carvings and sculptures depicting Cybele and other divinities.
Hagia Sophia. Built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian and later converted into a mosque by the Ottomans, the Hagia Sophia is one of the most iconic and timeless examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. Accented by beautiful mosaics, intricate marble carvings, and grand archways, this former basilica is a one-of-a-kind destination and one of the most visited tourist sites in Turkey.
2. A Timeline of Turkey’s Timeless Landmarks
- Istanbul: Istanbul is a vibrant city and the former capital of the Ottoman Empire. Founded as Byzantium in the 7th century BCE, this city has seen many empires come and go, from the Byzantine Empire to the Republic of Turkey. Some of its must-see sites include the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and Galata Tower.
- Ephesus: The ancient city of Ephesus was one of the most important cities of the classical world. It is located on the Aegean coast in the ancient region of Ionia. As one of the major cities of the Roman Empire, Ephesus has remarkable ruins, including the Library of Celsus, Temple of Artemis, and the Theater of Ephesus.
- Troy: Troy is an ancient city in Anatolia that was home to one of the greatest ancient civilizations. The site of this legendary city is located on the northwest coast of Turkey and has been explored since Heinrich Schliemann discovered it in the 19th century. Some of Troy’s most famous sites include the Great Trojan Gate, the Scaean Gate, and the Temple of Athena.
- Cappadocia: Cappadocia is a breathtaking area of central Anatolia with mesmerizing landscapes and ancient architecture. This region is famous for its spectacular rock-cut churches, ancient cave dwellings, and the iconic “fairy chimneys.” Some of the main attractions in this area include the Göreme National Park, Derinkuyu Underground City, and Göreme Open Air Museum.
- Pamukkale: Pamukkale, also known as the “Cotton Castle,” is one of the most beautiful places in Turkey. Located near the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, the site is known for its thermal hot springs and crystallized travertine terraces. Visitors can also soak in the Hierapolis Antique Pool, while enjoying the view of the surrounding snow-capped mountains.
Ani: Ani was the capital of the medieval Armenian kingdom and one of the most important cities of the medieval world. This site is located on the Armenian-Turkish border and is home to many ancient monuments, including its magnificent cathedral. Consequently, this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey.
Selimiye Mosque: The Selimiye Mosque is an Ottoman masterpiece that was built by the renowned architect Mimar Sinan in the 16th century. This building is one of the most recognizable Islamic monuments in the world and is also registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bodrum Castle: Bodrum Castle, also known as the Castle of St. Peter, is one of the most important monuments in Turkey. This stunning fortress was built by the Knights of St. John in the 15th century and is a popular tourist attraction.
3. Uncovering the Secrets of the Past
As many travelers know, a journey through Turkey is like no other. Not only is this nation home to countless stunning resorts, beaches, and natural beauty, but also bursting with ancient historical monuments. When it comes to in this country, there are plenty of landmarks that offer an incredible experience. From fascinating Byzantine and Ottoman sites to iconic ruins from ancient Greek and Roman cities, here are just a few of the highlights you won’t want to miss.
Void of big cities and bustling sights, Cappadocia is a legendary land in the Anatolian Plateau that harbors many incredible hallmarks from the past. Here you can find gorgeous rock formations made by ancient eruptions, a huge number of rupestrian Byzantine churches, and the ancient tabular caves, known as the “Fairy Chimneys”. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to explore the underground cities. The Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı underground tunnels offer vast networks of rooms that were used to protect people from enemy attacks in ancient times.
Undoubtedly one of the most impressive landmarks, Pamukkale is a natural, ancient site known for its beautiful thermal baths created by natural calcite deposits. This spectacular wonder is made up of a series of cascading terraces that look like a white cotton castle. Visitors are able to walk among the terraces and visit ancient ruins of a flourishing spa town, known as Hierapolis. Here there are plenty of worthwhile sites to explore, from a neo-Roman theater to the ancient necropolis.
The walls of Troy have weathered centuries and remained standing to tell tales of the ancient heroes and countless wars. Located in western Anatolia, Troy is one of the places even Homer would recognize. There are numerous ruins stretching across the area, including the defensive walls, iron gate, and the temple of Athena standing impressively at the highest point. The Trebi arched gate, opened by Diomede in Homer’s Iliad, is another piece of history you can explore. An archaeological museum is also located here, which hosts many items found during excavations.
Ephesus is an incredibly rich archaeological site situated on the coast of Ionia in western Turkey. This Hellenistic city was an important center for trade connecting the east and the west. Strolling between the ruins of this depopulated Roman city is like moving through time amidst stunning amphitheatres, the Celsus library, and many other ancient landmarks. Moreover, it is home to the spectacular Temple of Artemise (Diana) — one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
4. Captivating Turkey’s Culture and Architecture
A Country Full of History and Beauty
The country of Turkey has a rich and vibrant culture that dates back hundreds of years. From the art and architecture of Istanbul to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, this stunning nation has much to offer the keen-eyed traveler. Take a journey around this fascinating land and discover its historical landmarks.
- Hagia Sophia – The iconic dome of this 6th century Byzantine basilica dominates the skyline of Istanbul. Explore its awe-inspiring interior and marvel at the elaborate frescoes and mosaics within.
- Ephesus - This ancient city was once a bustling trade center and important religious center of antiquity. It’s renowned for its monuments, including the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
- Diyarbakır Fortress – Dating back to Roman times, this fortress has been further fortified and developed to help protect the city. Check out its impressive towers, which soar up to 100 feet.
- Cappadocia – This unique landscape was created by thousands of years of erosion. With its fairy chimneys, rock-cut churches, and underground cities, it’s certainly a sight to behold and explore.
Turkey is also home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Historic Areas of Istanbul, Nemrut Dağ and Safranbolu. Visit these stunning locations and get a true feel for the culture and history of the country. From ancient ruins to modern cities, Turkey certainly has something for everyone.
5. Taking a Tour of Ancient Turkey
Turkey is a country known for its abundant history and it shows that through its monuments, landmarks, and beautiful seaside voyages. Visitors to the country today are able to explore the depths of Turkey’s history through taking a tour of its ancient sites. Here are some of the top ancient sites to see in Turkey:
- The Temple of Artemis: Located in the ancient city of Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This temple was built in honor of the goddess Artemis and was believed to be the most beautiful temple of its time.
- Hagia Sophia: Hagia Sophia was first built as a Christian church in the 5th century. It has since been converted to a mosque and is a popular tourist attraction. It is widely considered to be one of the most important buildings in all of Turkey.
- The Blue Mosque: The Blue Mosque is one of the most beautiful architectural sites in all of Turkey. This mosque is known for its vibrant blue tiles which reflect off the sun and create a stunning view.
- Troy: Troy is an ancient city that was thought to be the site of a legendary war between the Greeks and Trojans. This site is now an archaeological site where visitors can explore the ruins.
- The Göbekli Tepe: The Göbekli Tepe is a set of hilltop enclosures consisting of large stone structures. It is believed to be the oldest archaeological site in the world and is believed to have been built by Neolithic humans. It is a fascinating site to explore.
Visiting each of these sites is sure to give you a glimpse into Turkey’s ancient past. From marveling at the Temple of Artemis to admiring the vibrant tiles of the Blue Mosque, there is something to appreciate at every site. It is sure to be a unique and unforgettable experience.
6. Discovering Turkey’s Natural Wonders
Explore the Land of Wonders
From its beautiful mosques and ancient landmarks to its sandy beaches and mountain peaks, Turkey is a land of wonder. Whether you’re looking for an adventure through its stunning natural landscapes or a journey through its historical monuments, Turkey is a country that will not disappoint. Here are just a few of the incredible sights to be seen in this remarkable country:
- Ephesus: The ruins of Ephesus are one of Turkey’s most famous landmarks, dating back to the 8th century BCE. The ruins tell the story of the city as it grew and flourished, and visitors can admire the stunning artifacts and monuments that have been carefully preserved.
- Istanbul: Home to some of the world’s most impressive architecture, Istanbul is a must-see for anyone visiting Turkey. The stunning Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace are just a few of the sights to be seen in this incredible city.
- Cappadocia: The incredible landscape of Cappadocia is another of Turkey’s biggest draws. From its stunning rock formations and incredible underground cities to its hot air balloon rides, there is something for everyone to enjoy here.
- Troy: A must-see for history buffs, Troy was an ancient city in western Turkey that is famous for its legendary siege. From the ruins of the fortification walls to its rich archaeological history, this site will transport visitors back thousands of years.
- Pamukkale: Located in southwestern Turkey, Pamukkale is a marvel of natural beauty. Its stunning white travertine terraces, formed from the calcium carbonate-rich waters of the nearby hot springs, are an awe-inspiring sight.
These are just a few of the incredible sights to be seen in Turkey, and a visit to this remarkable country is sure to be an experience like no other. No matter what your interests, you’re sure to find something to explore in this rich and diverse country.
7. Tips for Exploring Ottoman Grandeur
1. Visit Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia
For any traveler interested in history, exploration of Turkey would be incomplete without visiting Topkapi Palace in Istanbul and Hagia Sophia. Head to Topkapi Palace to get a glimpse into the life of Ottoman palace life in its elaborate and stunning interiors. Then make a stop at Hagia Sophia to take delight in its majestic Byzantine architecture and artwork.
2. Explore the Underground Cisterns
One of the most iconic historical sights in Istanbul, the underground cisterns of Istanbul are a must-visit for every traveler. Built by the Roman Emperor Justinian in the 5th century, these structures were built to supply fresh water to the palace. Today, they offer a glimpse into the past and an unforgettable experience.
3. Take a Tour of the Spice Market
The Spice Market of Istanbul is a treat for the senses. With the hustle and bustle of merchants trading their wares, along with the sweet aroma of spices wafting through the air, it’s a must-visit for every traveler. Not only can you browse the abundance of spices on offer, but you can also purchase souvenirs here to take home from your trip.
4. Visit the Palace of Dolmabahce
Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul was built as a grand residence for the Ottoman sultans in the 19th century. With its elaborate interiors and exquisite architecture, the palace offers travelers a glimpse of the grandeur of the Ottoman era. It is a must-visit place to explore Ottoman history and culture.
5. Discover the Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum located in Istanbul is a must-visit for the avid explorer. It houses a collection of artifacts from the Ottoman period, including intricately detailed sculpture, pottery, and inscriptions. The Museum also offers some of the best insight into the culture, art, and history of the era.
6. Explore the Covered Bazaars of Istanbul
The covered bazaars of Istanbul are one of the city’s oldest and most delightful cultural attractions. With an array of merchandise ranging from spices to souvenirs to antiques, the bazaars are a delightful place to explore. It’s also a great way to experience the culture and the vibrancy of the city.
7. Visit the Bosphorus
Take a trip to the Bosphorus, the strait that connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and which divided the European and Asian cities of Istanbul. Apart from the beautiful landscape, travelers can also take a boat ride to explore the old palaces, mansions, and monuments on the banks.
8. Connecting with Turkey’s Rich Heritage
Turkey is a land of culture and history, with a rich heritage that spans centuries. From the bustling cities to the ancient villages, the country offers a unique journey into its past. Although the country is now part of the European Union, it remains steeped in its traditions and culture, with monuments, buildings and ruins from all eras of its past. Here is a guide to some of the most notable historical landmarks in Turkey.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus:
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, an iconic temple with remarkable columns that still stand today. This site is one of the best-preserved sites of antiquity in Turkey, and an absolute must-see for any traveler.
Anicent City of Troy:
The legendary city of Troy, where the Trojan War took place, is located in Turkey. Although the site was discovered by Schliemann in 1870, you can still explore the ruins and the Nine Heavens walls of the once thriving settlement. “
Uzuncayir Roman Bridge:
The Uzuncayir Roman Bridge, located in the city of Nevsehir, is an impressive relic of the Roman Empire. This bridge, built in the 3rd century AD, stands as a testament to the Roman engineering and construction skills.
The Topkapı Palace is a majestic and historic palace that was the seat of the Ottoman Empire for almost 400 years. Here you can wander through the palace’s many stunningly decorated rooms, admire the Ottoman artwork and artifacts, and learn about the history of one of the world’s most powerful empires.
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus:
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is an impressive monument that has survived since the 4th century BC. The tomb has been beautifully restored, allowing visitors to observe the impressive column structure in all its glory.
Hagia Sophia is one of the world’s most iconic monuments, a stunning structure that has stood proudly in Istanbul for centuries. Originally built as a basilica for the Byzantine Empire, it was later turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of the city. Today, it operates as a museum where you can learn about its history and admire its incredible architecture.
Cappadocia is a region of Turkey that offers a unique glimpse into the country’s past. Here you can marvel at the dramatic rock formations, explore the many underground cities and churches, and visit the breathtaking ancient city of Göreme.
Turkey is a country with rich cultural and historical heritage, which makes it all the more interesting to explore. From the lush landscapes of Cappadocia to the legendary city of Troy, every visitor can find something to captivate their senses. And the many monuments, tombs, mosques, and palaces that populate the country’s historical sites will leave you with a feeling of awe.
Q: What landmarks should tourists visit in Turkey?
A: Tourists should visit landmarks such as the Hagia Sofia, the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace.
Q: What style of architecture is prominent in Turkey?
A: Turkish architecture is varied and includes many styles such as Byzantine, Ottoman, Seljuk, and Persian.
Q: Can people enjoy other activities in Turkey?
A: Yes, in addition to its many historical sites, Turkey also offers many other activities such as outdoor sports, shopping, nightlife, and culinary adventures.
Q: What dishes should people try when visiting Turkey?
A: Popular dishes include dolma (stuffed vegetables), kebab, gözleme (savory pastries stuffed with cheese), and lahmacun (turkish pizza).
Q: What is the best time to visit Turkey?
A: The best time to visit is between April and June, when the weather is warm and dry.
Q: What is the currency of Turkey?
A: The currency of Turkey is the lira (try).
Q: What is the official language of Turkey?
A: The official language is Turkish.
Q: How can people get around in Turkey?
A: People can get around by taxi, rental cars, buses, and trains. A journey through Turkey’s historical landmarks is a must for anyone looking to take in the deep, rich culture of the region. Whether hiking through the stunning mountain ranges or exploring ancient ruins, Turkey is a country that should not be missed. No matter your destination, or what type of journey you embark on, you are sure to be mesmerized by the historic beauty of the country.