Where To See the Best of Turkey’s Rich History

When searching for a unique and beautiful country to visit for your next holiday, especially one filled with historic architecture and places of interest, Turkey should be at the top of your list. There are a number of amazing sights around this transcontinental marvel of a country. Sitting between Southeast Europe, the Balkans, and Western Asia, Turkey is a country that is well known for being a melting pot of different cultures throughout the ages. As well as this, Turkey has been one of history’s greatest players, with its capital Istanbul, previously named Constantinople, being a seat of power for many different empires across history. If you’re interested in getting a glimpse of the remnants and records of this rich history, here are the places you should visit to experience the best of Turkey’s rich history. 

Aizanoi
This ancient Roman city was originally Phrygian until it was conquered. Situated now in Çavdarhisar, a town in the Aegean region, it’s a perfect place for those looking to explore some ruins of a bygone era. You’ll be able to find many wonderful historical sites, including what is left of the Temple of Zeus. In fact, this is one of the best-preserved Roman temples on the planet, which was built between the 1st and 2nd century CE. While Zeus was worshipped above ground, there was an underground chamber specifically used by cult worshippers of Cybel, the Great Mother of the Gods, in Roman mythology. As well as this stunning temple, you’ll find many other things around Aizanoi. This includes the ancient stadium complex, great colonnaded streets with covered walkways, Roman baths, the city’s necropolis, and the Sanctuary of Meter Steunene.

Alanya Castle
Combat and war have been a large influencer on the ancient world’s architecture, especially around the Mediterranean, and this can be seen by the abundance of forts and castles that pervade the landscape. One such castle, situated in Alanya, is just over 800 years old now. It was built in 1221 by AlaaddinKeyqubad I, Sultan of the Seljuk Turks. This impressive structure contained 83 towers and 140 bastions within and was actually built atop Byzantine and Roman fortification remains. Being situated atop a rocky peninsula and surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Alanya castle was an incredibly well defensible location. As well as this, it also boasts some phenomenal sights across the southern coastline of Turkey. 

Antalya Museum
If you’re searching for somewhere with a dedicated focus on the history of Turkey, you’ll want to consider the Antalya Museum. It’s home to 13 different exhibition halls, all of which demonstrate a different aspect of Turkey’s history. Visiting the museum, you’ll find a natural history hall which contains a number of fossils and natural records. There is also a classic period hall that is home to artifacts from as far back as the Mycenean Age, such as earthenware bowls and statues. There is also a specific statue hall that contains a number of great works which have been found in excavations at the UNESCO archaeological site of Perge. The statues on show include Artemis, Asclepius, Hermes, Minerva, and Zeus. The museum is full of many different and fascinating ancient and medieval artifacts and is a must-see for history fans. 

Anadoluhisar? Fortress
This fortress, located in the capital, is a perfect example of the architectural skill of the Ottoman Empire. Also known as Güzelce Hisar, this fortress is located on the eastern side of the Bosporus strait and served as a key strategic point, alongside its sister fortress on the other side, to help stem the flow of water traffic through the strait. This increased presence along the waterway gave the Ottomans increased control over the trade that passed through and secured their overall control over this sought-after waterway. This control helped the Ottomans in their goals to capture the city of Constantinople, and once they’d taken the city and subsequently renamed it Istanbul, the fortress then became a customs house and even a prison. Istanbul has undergone many changes throughout history, predominantly in terms of ownership, and therefore there are many historical sites to see. You can find lots of Istanbul holiday options here, whether you’re looking for a relaxing city break or a sight-seeing adventure, visiting places like this wonderful fortress. Over the years, Anadoluhisar? succumbed to degradation and eventually fell into disrepair. It was then restored by the Turkish Ministry of Culture in 1993, preserving this important remnant of the Ottoman Empire. 

Ephesus
Ephesus, another city of the Roman Empire, functioned as an important port and commercial hub. Now, while it is a ruin, there is a lot that remains, given that it was built around three thousand years ago. This site is a very famous one in Turkey and indeed around the world. It’s incredibly well-preserved, and you can stroll through the city streets and let your imagination take you back in time. You could visit here from the nearby town of Selçuk or even the nearby coastal resorts to the west. If the idea of Roman ruins intrigues you and stirs that sense of childlike wonder, then this is an opportunity that you cannot pass up. Being able to stand within such a well-preserved ruin like Ephesus is a fantastic experience and one we highly recommend. 

Cappadocia Underground Cities
If you’re searching for something slightly more obscure, then you’ll want to check out this next suggestion. Known as the Cappadocia Underground Cities, these fascinating settlements were carved out of the soft volcanic rock in the region by the Phrygians. These were made into multi-level cities, as deep as nearly 300ft. It’s said that in Derinkuyu, one of the largest, there were as many as twenty thousand inhabitants who made this sprawling underground city their home. It allowed the inhabitants to essentially live in secret, untouched by foreign invasion forces. Exploring this fascinating space will demonstrate that the people that lived here still lived a full life of revelry, study, and activity. You’ll find everything from wine cellars to classrooms across the many tunnels and caverns, and it truly is a sight to behold.

The Blue Mosque and The Hagia Sophia
We could never miss these off the list when it comes to iconic sights throughout Turkey. The towering minarets of these two neighbouring structures are some of the most well-known in the Mediterranean. The first of these structures to be built was the Hagia Sophia. This was originally a Byzantine Church, serving as a prestigious holy site of the Eastern Orthodox religion. Today, it is still regarded as a significant location to those of this faith and is frequently inundated with Christian pilgrims. It’s hard to miss its neighbour, the Blue Mosque, but that is indeed the point. This impressive structure was created by Sultan Ahmet I to reinvigorate the appearance of Ottoman power on the world stage and also as somewhat of an affront to the Hagia Sophia and those that revered it. It was decided that this mosque would be grander and should dominate the cityscape, taking the attention away from the Hagia Sophia. 

Turkey is a phenomenal place for everyone, whether you’re simply looking for some gorgeous weather and amazing places to eat and drink, or if you’re looking to feed your curiosity and desire for knowledge with the countless historical sites throughout the country. This truly is a country that should be high on everyone’s list of places to visit.

Image by Alp Cem from Pixabay 

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