Best Places to Visit in Turkey
Best Historical Places to Visit in Turkey Map 2018
Turkey is situated on a very unique area. As the Anatolia (Asia Minor) have been a home to many different civilizations, Turkey carries the traces of those diverse cultures. Therefore, it offers to its visitors both natural beauty and history.
- Mount Nemrut which is famous for colossal statues of Mythological Gods
- Istanbul connects the Black Sea & Mediterranean and separates Europe & Asia
- Cappadocia is famous for volcanic lands and beautiful fairy chimneys
- Sumela Monastery that tells us a lot about Early Years of Christianity
- Hattusa, the capital of Ancient Hittites and the land of mysterious legends
- Pamukkale covered with white travertines which look like snowy landscapes
- Ephesus Ancient City that has legendary Artemis Temple in its heart
- Safranbolu has 3000 years of history and cute Ottoman wooden houses
These are of course, only a fraction of Turkey‘s tourist attractions. You may also find Mardin, Edirne, Bursa and Antakya (Antioch) in our article. Let’s have a look at the history of these unique spots to see in Turkey.
Best Historical Places to Visit in Turkey 2018
Istanbul – History of Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans
Istanbul is in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1985. Istanbul is also one of the most popular city to visit in Europe. As a small model of Anatolia (melting pot of cultures), Istanbul connects the continents (Europe and Asia) and embraces both cultures
Topkapi Palace: The Home of Ottoman Sultans
Topkapi Palace is very different than the palaces of Europe. It contains four large courtyards and magnificent view of Bosphorus. If you visit Istanbul in Spring, you might feel like hiking in the nature, while discovering the nice gardens of Topkapi Palace. It offers best views of Istanbul.
Best Historical Places to Visit in Turkey – Topkapi Palace
Hagia Sophia: “The Church of Holy Wisdom”
According the to the Byzantine Chronicles, 11.000 people worked for day and night to build the Hagia Sophia. There were two mastermind behind the project: Anthemius and Isidore. As a result, they built the largest temple of Medieval World in 6 years.
The building stayed as the largest temple in the World for 1000 years until it’s surpassed by Michelangelo‘s St. Pietro’s Cathedral. Yet it’s considered as a giant progress in the Church architecture.
Ottomans fell in love with Hagia Sophia and proclaimed it as protocol mosque. It had been the model of Ottoman Architecture in the Classical Era (from 15th to 18th Century).
Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan added huge flying butresses to save the building from leaning to East.
Famous Historical Places to Visit in Turkey – Hagia Sophia
The Eagles Nest: Suleymaniye Mosque
Suleymaniye Mosque is located in the heart of Istanbul Historic Peninsula. It’s overlooking to the city like an eagle. You can take good pictures of Istanbul from the courtyard of this unique mosque.
Contrary to common belief, Blue Mosque is not the largest mosque in Istanbul. Suleymaniye Mosque is built by the most famous Turkish architect: Mimar Sinan. The mosque is dedicated to the Suleiman the Great who ruled the empire at its height.
Altough many people miss it, Suleymaniye Mosque is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul. If you would like to discover this beautiful sights with a local tour guide, you can give a try to best walking tours of Istanbul.
Beautiful Places in Turkey – Suleymaniye Mosque at Istanbul
Popular Place To Visit in Istanbul – Grand Bazaar
It’s a habit ending up at Grand Bazaar and shopping at the end of Old City tours. Grand Bazaar, built in 1461, charms people and attracts foreign visitors like a magnet.
People who get exhausted after a sightseeing tour in Istanbul can’t help but end their day at Grand Bazaar. Grand Bazaar is a historical shopping center with its 67 streets and more than 3000 shops.
Must See Places in Istanbul Turkey – Grand Bazaar
Attending to Bosphorus Ferry Trip in Spring
The Bosphorus Cruise Ride is definitely recommended while you are in Istanbul. The Bosphorus at its best when the Judas trees blossom during the spring. You may see the purple hills in the Bosphorus mixed with green nature and striking 19th Century architecture.
Bosphorus Cruise tour is definitely one of the best things to do in Istanbul.
Bosphorus Ferry Trip Provides Best Photos in Istanbul
Nevsehir – Volcanic Landscapes of Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a unique beauty. Attending to a Hot Air Balloon Ride and watch the volcanic landscapes, provides an amazing scenery.
Cappadocia was located in the crossroads of ancient trade routes. This feature added a great value to its historical heritage. It spreads out to four cities in Turkey: Nevsehir, Aksaray, Nigde and Kayseri.
- Best examples of cave churches dating back to early years of Christianity.
- Massive underground cities which had been a shelter for people during the ancient battles.
- High hills like Uchisar and Ortahisar gives great photo opportunities for instagramers.
- Staying in cave hotels as a romantic experience. Cappadocia is the best place to visit in Turkey for honeymoon.
- Crown your trip with a Hot Air Balloon Ride so that you can take best pictures of your life.
Fun Things to do in Turkey – Cappadocia Hot Air Ballon Ride
Adiyaman – Statues of Greek Gods at Mount Nemrut
Thousands of people flock to Mount Nemrut every year, to watch the sunrise from the summit. Mount Nemrut is under UNESCO’s World Heritage List thanks to the colossal statues of Greek Gods.
The king of an ancient civilization (The Kingdom of Commagene) Antiochus I built this amazing statues and placed them on the top of the mountain. He proclaimed himself a god, and added his own statue among the ones like Zeus and Apollon.
Climbing up to the Mount Nemrut in the early morning not easy. It’s freezing cold up there. However the atmosphere is truly amazing so it’s definitely worth the effort. While sun rises over the horizon and shines over the statues of Ancient Gods, you forget about everyhing else.
Strangely enough, the existence of this awesome statues forgotten for long years. They have been rediscovered and became one of the top tourist attraction in Turkey of today. It shares the same destiny with the Basilica Cistern of Istanbul which was also lost for many years.
Best Historical Places to Visit in Turkey – Mount Nemrut
Izmir – Ephesus Ancient City with Roman Heritage
Ephesus is best-preserved ancient city in Eastern Mediterranean. The city dates back to Ancient Greece, later became the capital of Roman provinces in Asia Minor. You might feel like travelling in time while you are walking through the Curetes Street.
Temple of Artemis is definitely the highlight of Ephesus, as it had been a spiritual hub during the ancient ages. Library of Celsus also stands out with its splendid architecture.
Ephesus became a very important city during the early times of Christianity as Apostle John and Virgin Mary came to here. House of Virgin Mary definitely one of the top historical places to visit in Turkey for Christians. Moreover it’s considered as one of the pilgrimage sites.
Ephesus, one of the Top Tourist Attractions to See in Turkey
Trabzon – Sumela Monastery as a Hidden Gem
Sumela Monastery is built on the rocks, which is at the skirts of Mount Karadag. Locals call this place as “St. Mary’s Monastery”. It was an active monastery from 386 A.D. to 1923. The Byzantine Monks had lived in here.
Nowadays, Sumela is a popular museum which is a bit difficult to visit. You have to climb up the steep hills to get there. Yet everybody thinks it’s well worth it, when they see the ancient icons and experience the mystical atmosphere.
The monastery is built by two monks named as Barnabas ve Sophronios. According to the legend, they both saw the St. Mary in their dreams. They followed the trail of her and met each other at this spot. Two people who did not know each other before, came across in the same place after a dream. They considered it as a miracle of St. Mary and dedicated the new monastery to her.
The Monastery had one of the most important icon for the Christian belief. The Icon of Panagia Soumela which was iconographed by the Evangelist Luke. Because of impressive atmosphere of the place, miracles associated with the Sumela Monastery.
Sumela Monastery a Must-See Tourist Attraction in Turkey
Corum – Hattusa the Ancient Capital of Hittites
Located in Bogazkale province of Corum, Hattusa is around 200 km away from the capital of Turkey: Ankara. It’s one of the best places to visit in Turkey with a history of 2300 years.
As a contemporary of ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, Hittites have an important role in the ancient history. They became a superstate in the Middle East and challenged the Pharaohs of Egypt.
The two important states of the area fought for the superiority on Mesopotamia and signed the first peace treaty in the world history. The Treaty of Kadesh (Eternal Treaty) is displayed in Istanbul Archaeological Museum today.
Places to Visit in Turkey – Yazılıkaya Sanctuary of Hattusa
Pamukkale – White Travertines and Hierapolis Ruins
Pamukkale is famous for its snow white landscapes. If you will come to Turkey for a holiday in Cesme, Bodrum or other popular holiday towns, it’s definitely recommended to make day trip to Pamukkale.
Pamukkale is not only for seeing the white travertines but also enjoy the Hierapolis Antient City. Just like Ephesus, Hierapolis is also a great Greco-Roman heritage site in Turkey. You may enjoy the walk through the ancient ruins and seeing the ancient theatre.
If you feel exhausted walking through the ruins, you can swim in the historical pool which is filled with ancient columns and remnants. It’s one of the best places to visit in Turkey in summer.
Hierapolis Ancient Theatre good spot to take photos in Turkey
Mardin – Melting Pot of Cultures and Religions
Mardin offers a great cultural experience to its visitors. Mardin had been under the influence of Babylon, Assyria, Persia as well as Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The colorful mosaic culture stems from the multicultural background.
The entire city is under the protection of the Turkish Governent. Soon-to-be UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the city has been a home to different ethnicities, religions and cultures; it’s one of the best places to visit in Turkey.
Strolling through the oldish streets of Mardin, you would feel yourself as if in you’re in Toledo or any other well-preserved Medieval cities. However Mardin literally offers more than that: The brotherhood of religions in one city. Beautiful Mosques, Churches, Synagogues and Monasteries can be seen in Mardin.
Top Historical Places to Visit in Turkey – Mardin Houses
Antakya – Crossroad of Civilizations
Antakya is very strategically located city. It’s in the center of Mesopotamia, Mediterranean trade routes and Anatolia (Asia Minor). This unique position of the city makes it a bridge between the different cultures.
Antakya has the most diverse and delicious cuisine in Turkey. Besides one of the largest ancient mosaic museum (Hatay Mosaic Museum) is also located in this city.
Antakya (also known as Antioch) is one of the five apostolic sees of Christianity. (Others: Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Alexandria). Moreover Saint Peter (Apostle Simon Peter), build the Church of St. Peter (also known as St. Pierre) in this city. Therefore it’s on the pilgrimage road for the Christians.
Besides Church of St. Peter, you may want to see the Vespasianus Titus Tunnel (2000 years old engineering marvel) and Monastery of St. Simeon in Antakya.
Top Historical Places to Visit in Turkey – Antakya
Bursa – The First Capital of Ottoman Empire
Bursa was the first capital of Ottoman Empire in Anatolia. The most important feature of Bursa in history is that it witnessed the Ottoman’s transition from a princedom to a state.
Bursa is also the city where the Ottoman Empire created architecture in their own style rather than the Seljuk Turkish architecture from whom they inherited the Central Asian origins of Turks.
Ulu Cami (Holy Mosque) and Yesil Cami (Green Mosque) are the best examples of the early Ottoman architecture. Bursa was also the textile industry of Ottoman Empire since it has high quality silk.
Bursa also stands out with its tourism industry. It’s one of the best place to go for a daily trip from Istanbul. People go there to see Bursa’s architecture, history as well as clothing shopping. Besides Mount Uludag is one of the best area to go skiing in Turkey.
Iznik (Nicaea) is a province in Bursa city. This small city is famous for Iznik Tiles. Ottomans decorated most beautiful mosques, tombs and palaces of Istanbul with this high quality tiles. Surprisingly, Iznik had been a house to First Council of Nicaea, which was held by Emperor Contantine the Great. This first council laid the foundations of Christianity in the Roman Empire.
Bursa Stands Out with its Ottoman Classical Architecture
Edirne- Gate of Turkey that Opens to Europe
Edirne, also known as “Adrianople”. The Ottomans moved the capital from Bursa to Edirne as they thought Edirne was in a more crucial location. Edirne was in an excellent position for the Ottoman Empire that wanted to manage the campaigns they planned to launch in the Balkans. Nowadays Edirne is the gate of Turkey that opens to Europe.
Contrary to popular belief Blue Mosque is not the largest mosque in Turkey. As I mentioned on the top of the article it’s second largest after the Suleymaniye Mosque. However “Selimiye Mosque” of Edirne is the largest one of Ottoman Imperial Mosques.
Edirne is famous for Kakava Festivals that celebrates the spring. Besides it bear the trace of Abrahamic Religions. There are synagogues and churches as well as beautiful mosques.
Selimiye Mosque is the Largest Historical Mosque in Turkey
Safranbolu – Wooden Houses and Oldish Streets
Safranbolu is the best place to see the local life in Turkey. The well-preserved Ottoman wooden houses make the city a place worth to visit. It gives you a feeling that you are in open-air museum. Also one of the best places for photography in Turkey.
Safranbolu offers a warm local atmosphere, delicious local food. This fetures make the city one of the best destination for a day trip from Istanbul.
Safranbolu City has Historical Houses from Ottoman Era
Historical Places to Visit in Turkey Map 2018
Top Historical Places to Visit in Turkey Map Blog Article By Serhat Engul