Anatolia has hosted many civilizations throughout history. Serving as a bridge between Asia and Europe, Anatolia has been an important trade and cultural center throughout its history. In this article, you can find facts about the history of Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, along with maps.
The Hittites stand out as the oldest and most powerful empire in the history of Anatolia. Then we see that the Ancient Greek culture became dominant. Anatolia, which was under the rule of the Persian Empire for a period, was conquered thoroughly by Alexander the Great.
There are ancient cities in Anatolia that we can still visit today. Although these cities bear the cultural traces of the Ancient Greek period, their architectural heritage is from the Roman period.
Table of Contents
Anatolia as a Religious Center
In the years of polytheistic religion, there were important religious centers in every corner of Anatolia. The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, Yazilikaya in Hattusa, and Mount Nemrut in Adiyaman were cultural centers whose fame spread beyond Anatolia.
In addition to these, we should also mention Gobekli Tepe, whose discovery caused great excitement in the world of archeology. Considered as the oldest temple in the world, Gobekli Tepe proved once again how deep the culture of Anatolia is.
In the early Christian period, Anatolia was again one of the most important centers. Ancient cities and regions such as Antioch, Ephesus, Cappadocia, and Byzantium provided shelter for Christians fleeing Roman persecution.
The most important battles of the late antiquity took place first between the Roman and Persian empires, and then the Byzantine and Arab empires. These wars also took place on the lands of Anatolia. Asia Minor, where these diverse cultures have come together, has a unique identity.
Anatolia (Asia Minor) Maps, History, Facts
Anatolia maps prepared by history lovers will help us discover the history of Asia Minor. We will continue to tell the story of Asia Minor in eight titles.
We will mention each of the civilizations that lived in Anatolia starting from the Bronze Age. However, the most exciting parts of our story will be the years of the Roman and Byzantine empires in Anatolia.
I am a tour guide living in Istanbul. Since my area of expertise is late antiquity and the middle ages, I will talk about these periods in more detail. While there are maps of ancient Anatolia in the first half of the article, there are maps of modern Turkey in the second half.
Anatolia maps will be useful for those planning a trip to Turkey. Because you can trace the facts about the history of Anatolia described in this article by visiting museums and historical sites in Turkey.
1. Ancient Cities of Anatolia
Ancient cities of Anatolia have been identified with many things in history. I would like to briefly mention some of these historical regions and cities marked on the Anatolia map above. Some of these places have had more than one name in history. The best example of these is Istanbul, also known as Byzantium and Constantinople.
Istanbul was founded as an ancient Greek city in 2700 BC and its name was Byzantium. Known as Constantinople in Roman and Byzantine times, the city was the world’s most populous city in late antiquity. The city, which was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453, stands out as a multicultural place.
Phokaia, located in the west on the Anatolia map, is now a wonderful holiday town. Located in Izmir, one of Turkey’s largest cities, the town was one of the important settlements of the ancient Greek period. There are also Ephesus ruins in the city of Izmir, which have a magnificent Roman heritage.
Miletus is the place where Isidore of Miletus, one of the architects of Hagia Sophia, was born and raised. Isidore, a famous mathematician, was invited to Istanbul by the Byzantine emperor Justinian and was commissioned to build Hagia Sophia with the architect Anthemius. Today, it is possible to see the heritage of this ancient center in the ruins of Miletus.
Lycia was a very important region during ancient times. The region, which has a Mediterranean climate and magnificent coasts, is a tourism paradise today. Antalya, Turkey’s most popular holiday city, is also located within the borders of Lycia. There are many ruins in Lycia such as Xanthos, Olympos, Phasalis and Myra.
Hattusa, located in the middle of the map of Asia Minor, was the ancient capital of the Hittites. The Hittites were the superpower of the region along with Ancient Egypt in the late bronze age. You can visit the Hattusa ruins and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Turkey to trace this heritage.
Cappadocia, located on the east of the Anatolia map, was a very important place in the history of early Christianity. Cappadocia, which has miraculous volcanic formations, was a place where monks flocked. You can read how Cappadocia opened a new era in Christianity from this article titled monastic life in Cappadocia.
Urartu, located at the easternmost point of the map of Asia Minor, has natural treasures such as Mount Ararat and Lake Van. Mount Ararat is a place associated with the legend of Noah’s Ark in the scriptures. This area is also where the Battle of Manzikert took place between Byzantine Empire and Seljuk Turks. (We will talk about this in more detail below.)
Pontus, on the north of the Anatolia map, was the hometown of Mithridates IV, who fought fierce battles with the Romans. Pontus, which was an important center during the Roman and Byzantine periods, is now known as Trabzon. Sumela Monastery is the most important historical place to see in Trabzon.
2. Ancient Greek Period
Anatolia had many important cultural centers in the ancient Greek period. Ephesus, the capital of the Ionian League established among ancient Greek sites, was the most important city in this region. However, there were other important centers such as Phokaia and Miletus.
3. Anatolia under Roman Rule
Anatolia reached its peak in terms of architecture under the rule of the Roman Empire. Today, you can visit the ancient cities of Pergamon, Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Perge and Aspendos to observe the Roman heritage in Turkey.
Anatolia became more important when Emperor Constantine liberated Christianity in the 300s. Places such as Byzantium, Ephesus, Antioch and Cappadocia that carried the legacy of the apostles became religious centers.
After Byzantium became the Roman capital under the name of Constantinople, the power center of the Roman Empire shifted to the east. Thus, the Roman cult, which would last a thousand years through Eastern Rome, lived in Anatolia.
4. Anatolia under Byzantine Empire
Anatolia was the heart of the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire was actually a blend of cultural codes from Ancient Greece and administrative and military codes from Rome. When Christianity, which became the imperial religion, was added to this formula, the most important empire of the Middle Ages emerged.
The Byzantine Empire inherited a great feud from Rome. The fight against the deadly enemies of Persians and barbarians continued as in Roman times.
The struggle of Byzantium with the Persians in the East and the barbarian tribes in the West lasted for 300 years and only subsided during the reign of Emperor Heraclius.
Even more dangerous enemies emerged before Heraclius could celebrate his victories. The Bulgarians who settled in the Balkans and the Arabs expanded with the rise of Islam were the harbinger of new wars that would last for centuries.
Anatolia, the military recruitment factory of the Byzantine Empire, remained attached to Byzantium despite Persian and Arab attacks. However, in the 11th century, after the Battle of Manzikert, most of Anatolia was lost to the Turks.
4. Anatolia under Seljuk Empire
The migration route of Seljuk Turks from Asia can be seen on the map above. The Turks, who came from the steppes of Asia to Iran, declared Isfahan their capital and became neighbors to Anatolia and the Byzantine Empire. War was inevitable between the Seljuk Empire and Byzantium.
Seljuks who won the Battle of Manzikert captured Eastern and Central Anatolia. This was the event that triggered the Crusades. Byzantines at first recaptured their lands thanks to the early Crusades. However, in 1204, Constantinople itself became the target of the Crusaders. (This incident, called the Sack of Constantinople, happened during the fourth Crusade.)
During the rule of the Seljuk Empire, trade activities continued in Anatolia. Seljuks managed to build a life together with the local peoples in Anatolia. This heritage was beneficial for everyone during the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum period.
5. Seljuk Sultanate of Rum
After the collapse of the Seljuk Empire, its heir, Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, ruled in Anatolia. The Sultanate, whose capital was Konya (Iconium), had an administration that preserved all local cultures. The traces of this hybrid culture can still be seen in Anatolia.
Seljuk Sultanate, which existed from the 1070s to 1300s, was disintegrated due to Mongolian pressure from the east. A small principality (Ottomans) remaining from the Seljuks later turned into a giant empire.
The map of Anatolia above shows us the most important cities of late antiquity and middle ages. Constantinople, Nicomedia, Ephesus, Iconium, Caesarea, Edesa and Antioch were the most important cities in Anatolia during this period of the Crusades.
6. Anatolia during the Ottoman Empire
During the Ottoman Empire, Anatolia was the center of a state that spread to three continents. The Ottomans, who were founded around Iznik and Bursa, then captured Edirne (Adrianople) and Istanbul (Constantinople) respectively and became a serious power.
Unlike other Anatolia maps, the names of the cities are noted in Turkish in the image above. However, you can recognize many of them as they evoke ancient names. For example, Amasya (Amasis), Konya (Iconium), Antakya (Antioch), Trabzon (Trebizond).
7. Anatolia during the World War I
The Ottoman Empire experienced its peak during the Suleiman the Magnificent period. The Ottomans, who controlled the silk and spice routes and dominated the Eastern Mediterranean, enjoyed a prosperous period.
The Ottoman Empire, which expanded until the end of the 1600s, then entered a long period of decline. The Ottomans, who joined the First World War with the Germans, lost everything at the end of the war.
After World War I, Anatolia was occupied by the allied forces. The remnants of the Ottoman army started a war of liberation in and around Ankara. At the head of the Liberation Army was Mustafa Kemal, a former Ottoman general.
8. Modern Republic of Turkey
The Turkish liberation army had to fight for four years between 1919 and 1923 to save Anatolia from occupation. The modern Republic of Turkey was founded at the end of the war.
Since the Turkish War of Independence was ruled by the parliament in Ankara, it was adopted as the capital. Thus, centuries later, Istanbul lost its feature of being the capital city. But Istanbul is still the economic capital of Turkey.
We have explained the history of Asia Minor on Anatolia maps under eight headings. Now, let’s continue to share some useful information about Turkey on the images below.
Map of the Regions in Turkey
Map of the regions in Turkey shows us the seven administrative regions of the country. %97 of Turkey is situated on the Asia in other words Anatolia. The %3 of Turkey is settled on Europe (Balkans). Turkey is geographically divided by 7 regions. The largest city of Turkey, Istanbul, is located in Marmara region whereas the capital, Ankara, is located in Central Anatolia.
Map of the Weather in Turkey
Map of the weather in Turkey shows us that there are 4 different climates in seven regions of Turkey. Aegean (West) and Mediterranean (South) regions with mild Mediterranean Climate. Marmara is very similar to them except for cooler winters.
Central, Eastern and Southeast Anatolia has Continental Climate with very cold winters and boiling hot summers. Incomparably northern part of Turkey has Black Sea Climate which is similar to that of Great Britain. Very humid and rainy.
Map of The Cities in Turkey
Map of the cities in Turkey shows us the metropolitan cities of Anatolia in bold letters. Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, Eskisehir, Konya, Ankara, Kayseri, Adana, Gaziantep and Diyarbakır stand out as the metropolises of Turkey.
In each of these cities, you can find many ruins and museums about the history of Anatolia. A route that includes Istanbul, Izmir (Ephesus) and Kayseri (Cappadocia) covers must-see locations for first time visitors.
Anatolia and Asia Minor Maps By Serhat Engul