20 Sep The Best Historical Treasures in Turkey!
Turkey is one of those countries that should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Amazing weather, natural beauty and more culture than you can shake a stick at, it is impossible not to find something to love about Turkey.
Of course, one of the biggest selling points of Turkey, for many people, is not its pristine beaches or the complex flavours of the country’s delicately spiced food, but its historical sites.
Whether you’re a history buff or not, if you’re spending time in Turkey, there are a few sites you are absolutely going to want to add to your itinerary…
Chances are you have heard of Troy as it plays a prominent role in Greek myth and there have been many books and films that take place at least partly in the location. Troy is actually a real place, and it is located in the northwest of Turkey right atop the mound of Hisarlık. Although ancient, the site was all but lost until the 1870s when it was expertly excavated by a German entrepreneur by the name of Heinrich Schliemann. Today, it is one of the finest examples of ancient civilization and a prime example of the aesthetics that occur when the East meets Western culture. It is also an extremely popular World Heritage Site. You’d be a fool not to pay a visit if you happen to be travelling in the area.
Located in the incredible city of Istanbul which is part of both Europe and Asia, Hagia Sophia is an amazing historic site that was built upon the ruins of two churches following their destruction in the Nika riots, which took place in 532. Most people are surprised to learn that Hagia Sophia was constructed in just five years such is the beauty of its Avant-garde architecture that oozes the culture of Istanbul and stands as a testament to the various cultural changes that have taken place in the centuries since it was built, and depending on which religious organization laid claim to it. A World Heritage site that is home to one of the best museums you are likely to find in Turkey, which is why you should not let this particular historical attraction pass you by.
Located not far from Selçuk in western Turkey’s Izmir Province, Ephesus is a perfect example of early Christian, Roman and Greek culture, which has been standing since 10th century BC. The whole construction is sure to take your breath away, but the Temp[le of Artemis, which is a prime example of Classical Greek architecture is particularly impressive, and is, in fact, listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It’s easy to slip away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and find yourself confronted with the past when you are exploring the temple, or the also impressive Roman Library of Celsus and the House of the Virgin Mary, where you are likely to bump into Christian pilgrims coming to pay their respects, too.
Hattusha is the once capital city of the Hittite Empire who were a bronze age civilization. Located near Boğazkale in central Turkey, it is easy to get to this historical site when travelling around Turkey, and you should really make the effort to do so due to the mindblowing remains of the city with its many temples, palaces, underground tunnels and walls that were practically impossible to penetrate. Spending some time here will really give you a feel of what it was like to live many centuries ago in another part of the world.
Mount Nemrut is an extremely striking attraction. Perched atop the impressive mountain’s peak, you will find some very impressive remains of the Armenian Kingdom of Commagene, while also enjoying spectacular views over south-east Turkey too. Particularly impressive is the mausoleum built by, and for, King Antiochus I of Commagene back in 63 BC. The tomb is surrounded by some of the most imposing statues – some measuring in excess of 9 metres in their prime – which were designed as the embodiment of various players in Armenian, Greek and Iranian mythology. Although damaged now, their heads still remain and they will take your breath away.
The Ottoman Empire has left its mark all over Turkey but this is no more evident than it is in the city of Bursa, which was actually the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, so important was the ancient city of the Ottoman Empire that its first ruler, Orhan Gazi’s final resting place can be found there. Steeped in history and mythology, you can easily spend a day of your trip here and never get bored. Be sure to try a Bursa peach and maybe purchase some of the stunning silk-wares you will find on sale there.
Çatalhöyük is one of Turkey’s prime archaeological sites and has been since it was uncovered in the 50s by British archaeologist James Mellaart. Home to the planet’s biggest and most well-preserved neolithic sites, if you’re interested in truly ancient history, you won’t want to miss the chance to check it pout and see how people in the 8th millennia use to live. The ‘Seated Woman’ sacred symbol is particularly interesting and tourists often find themselves moved when they view it.
St. Nicholas Church, Demre
St. Nicholas, who was born in Patra close to St. Nicholas Church, was an extremely influential bishop in the fourth century. When he died, the church was built to honour him and to become his final resting place. What is so interesting about that? Well, for one thing, St. Nicholas is THE St. Nicholas as in the man behind the Santa Claus myth, which means that this site is definitely worth a visit. I mean millions of pilgrims who have been visiting since the fifth century to pay their respects can’t be wrong, can they?
As you can see, Turkey is home to some of the world’s most interesting historical sites, so be sure to visit as many as you can on your next Turkish trip!