Classic cities? Time-honoured treasures? Archaeological marvels? Turkey’s terrific for culture vultures. But with history and heritage pouring from every pocket, how do you choose where to go? Well, we think our round-up of the country’s sightseeing standouts is a great place to start.
Around ten miles north-east of Antalya sits the ancient city of Perge. The vast range of ruins here serves as a reminder of the Hellenistic and Roman eras that shaped much of western civilisation. Highlights include the well-preserved baths, market place and spectacular 15,000-seat amphitheatre. For the best views, head to the acropolis for sweeping panoramas of the colonnaded streets below. There’s little shade, so if you’re visiting in summer, be sure to take your hat and sun cream!
Konya, formerly a Byzantine city called Iconium, is one of the world’s oldest urban centres. More than a millennia’s worth of history is housed here in the remains of ancient settlements, which date as far back as the Neolithic Period.
Mevlana Museum should be top of your must-visit list. This is one of Turkey’s most famous religious sites and often a place of Muslim pilgrimage. Outside, the turquoise-topped dome and fountain-studded courtyard wow, while the inside is dedicated to whirling dervish founder Mevlana Rumi.
Whimsical beauty beckons in Cappadocia, thanks to its honey-hued hills and ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations. Delve a little deeper and you’ll soon discover the story is just as remarkable as the scenery. It comes alive in underground cities like Kaymakli, where a labyrinth of tunnels etched deep into the earth served as refuge for Christians in medieval times. And don’t miss the UNESCO-stamped Goreme Open-Air Museum, which is home to churches, chapels and monasteries that have been hollowed out of the hills. For a true once-in-a-lifetime experience, book a sunrise hot air balloon tour and see the sights from above. Be sure to take lots of snaps as the rippling waves of rock are bathed in a golden glow.
Pamukkale, which translates as ‘cotton castle’, is another postcard-worthy place to add to your Turkey bucket list. These snow-white springs are made up of row-upon-row of calcium pools, overrunning with bright blue water that’s perfect for plunging into. The toasty streams that flow here were the basis for the ancient spa city of Hierapolis, whose remains are scattered on the hilltop nearby. When you’re all pampered out, roam around the Roman theatre and museum.
Ephesus is a top treat for history buffs. Leaf through the pages of Greek and Roman history as you meander along the marble streets. The remnants of shops, schools and temples give a fascinating insight into what life was like back then. The Library of Celsus, with its ornate façade, and the fresco-adorned houses are just some of the tokens of its glorious past.
Miletus and Didyma
For a taste of antiquity, take a trip to Miletus. In its heyday, this was one of the region’s most important trade centres, boasting four harbours. Now, there’s a museum that’s chock-full of interesting artefacts, from pottery to classical coins. The city was once connected to Didyma by the Sacred Way, a religious road for processions and festivals. It was an important place of worship, evidenced by the colossal ruins of the Temple of Apollo that remain here.
Antalya’s old quarter is a joyous jumble of Ottoman-era houses, many of which have been restored and converted into charismatic cafés and restaurants. It’s a great place to while away an afternoon, getting lost among the cobbled lanes. Look out for culture-cloaked gems like the arch of Hadrian’s Gate. Follow your feet to the Roman Harbour, then pull up a pew in one of the waterfront eateries for a sea-view supper and a spot of yacht-watching.
Fancy visiting all these sites in one go? Take the hassle out of planning your own trip and join us on our superb seven-night guided tour of the Anatolia region. By day, you’ll travel by coach, ticking off the historical hotspots mentioned above. Then by night, you’ll stay in fabulous four-star accommodation. What are you waiting for? Your Turkish adventure awaits…
Posted: 12th Dec 2022.