is a transcontinental country located primarily on the Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is bounded to the north by the Black Sea, to the northeast by Georgia, to the east by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran, to the southeast by Iraq, to the south by Syria and the Mediterranean Sea, to the west by Greece and Bulgaria, and to the northwest by Greece and Bulgaria. Cyprus is located off the coast of Greece. Turks constitute the vast majority of the population, with Kurds constituting the largest minority. Turkey s capital is Ankara, and its largest city and financial centre is Istanbul.
Places to visit in Turkiye:
1 Hagia Sophia Mosque:
The Hagia Sophia Mosque (Aya Sofya), renowned as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, is not only one of the top things to do in Istanbul, but also in Turkey.
Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 CE, it is regarded as the greatest architectural achievement of the Byzantine Empire and has remained the world s largest church for 1,000 years.
The massive exterior is framed by delicate minarets added after the Ottoman conquest, and the sumptuous and cavernous frescoed interior is a grand reminder of old Constantinople s might and power.
This famous monument is a must-see for any visitor to the country.
The mighty ruin of Ephesus is a city of colossal monuments and marble-columned roads that should not be missed. This is one of the most complete, still-standing famed antiquity cities in the Mediterranean region, and it is the place to experience what life must have been like during the Roman Empire s golden age.
The city s history dates back to the 10th century BCE, but the major monuments you see today are all from the Roman era, when it was a bustling commercial centre.
The Library of Celsus, the complex of frescoed terraced houses, and the Great Theater, in particular, attest to Ephesus wealth and importance during the Roman period.
A sightseeing trip here will take at least half a day to cover the major highlights, and possibly longer if you want to explore thoroughly.
Rippling panoramas of wave-like rock or wacky-shaped pinnacles formed by millennia of wind and water action can be found on cliff ridges and hill crests.
If you don t want to hike for the views, this is one of the best places in the world to take a hot-air balloon ride.
The frescoed rock-cut churches and cave-cut architecture of the Byzantine Era, when this area was home to monastic Christian communities, are nestled in this unique lunar-like landscape.
Some of the best examples of surviving mid-Byzantine-era religious art in the world can be found in the multiple cave-churches of Goreme Open-Air Museum and Ihlara Valley.
The vast and rambling ruins of Greco-Roman Hierapolis, an ancient spa town, lie scattered across the summit of this calcite hill, and are a highlight of any Turkey trip.
After exploring the ancient theatre and the remnants of the city s agora, gymnasium, necropolis, and grand gates, you can swim in the mineral-rich waters that made this ancient spa town famous in the antique pool.
Wading through the pools of water in the upper terraces, walk down the travertine hill to the small modern village of Pamukkale below.
In the summer, the two main beaches outside of town are sun-sloth heaven, attracting visitors from all over Europe. While the old town area, nestled right in the centre of town, is a wonderful place to explore, with its cobblestone alleyways rimmed by creaky Ottoman-era mansions.
The Antalya Museum is regarded as one of the best in the country, with an incredible collection of Hellenistic and Roman marble statuary, and there are numerous attractions outside of town for visitors who wish to use Antalya as a base.
Antalya, in particular, is an excellent base for day trips to some of Turkey s most famous Greco-Roman ruins, including Aspendos and Perge, which are just outside the city, and Side, which has a plethora of ruins.
6 Cruising the Mediterranean:
For good reason, yachting is the most popular activity for visitors to Bodrum and Fethiye. The steep forest-clad slopes, hidden coves with tiny white-sand beaches, and hundreds of scattered islands are ideal for sea exploration. Even the most ardent landlubbers will be impressed.
7 Mount Nemrut:
This strange and lonely location has to be one of Turkey s most unusual archaeological sites. The summit is dominated by the massive stone heads of long-forgotten gods, casting an eerie atmosphere over the barren mountaintop.
Antiochus I, ruler of the Commagene Kingdom, which lay here in the buffer zone between the Roman and Parthian empires, built the summit.
As a display of his importance, Antiochus I dedicated this grand funerary mound to himself, raising a 50-meter-high artificial peak on Mount Nemrut s summit and then decorating it with statues of himself and various gods.
The most popular time to visit is at sunrise, when you can watch the statues emerge from the darkness.
The highly restored, 15,000-seat theatre is one of antiquity s star attractions. It is considered the finest surviving example of a classical age theatre still standing in the world.
Although the theatre is the main reason for a visit (and for most visitors on a half-day trip from nearby Antalya or Side, it is all they see), the Aspendos site has plenty more ruins to explore.
There are ruins of an aqueduct, an agora, a stadium, and a Byzantine-era basilica scattered throughout the vast hillside area that surrounds the theatre.
The beach offers plenty of space, with railings running for 18 kilometres along the shoreline, so even in the height of summer, you can find a quiet spot far away from the crowds.
The vast ruins of Ancient Patara, which include a colonnaded street, restored bouleuterion (the city s parliament), and a theatre that sat 5,000 people, add to the experience.
After you ve had your fill of sun, sand, and swimming, explore the crumbling remnants of this once prosperous Lycian city behind the sand dunes.
Pergamum s remaining temple remnants now preside dramatically across a hilltop, once home to one of the ancient world s most important libraries (rivalling Alexandria s library in prominence) and the famed medical school run by Galen.
It s a fantastically atmospheric location to explore. The Acropolis area, with its theatre cut into the hillside, contains the most ruins and provides sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.
The ruins of the city s renowned medical centre can be found in the Asklepion area below.
This is an excellent place to visit if you want to experience life during the Classical period.
11 Blue Mosque:
The mosque was built by Sultan Ahmed I and was designed to resemble the Hagia Sophia by architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aa, a disciple of the Ottoman era s most renowned architect, Sinan.
Everything about the Blue Mosque is grand, with six slender minarets and a sprawling courtyard complex, but it s best known for its prayer hall interior, which is covered in tens of thousands of blue Iznik tiles (for which the mosque was named) and lit by shards of light from 260 windows.
Outside of prayer times, non-worshiping visitors are welcome. Everyone must cover their knees and shoulders, and women must wear a headscarf.
This site is widely regarded as the Troy of Homer s Iliad and is one of Turkey s most well-known ancient ruins.
Whether or not it is the Troy of the Trojan War myths, the multi-layered, rambling ruins here reveal a vast history of occupation, abandonment, and reoccupation dating back to the early Bronze Age.
The city walls and fortifications are well preserved, as are the remnants of a palace, megarons (Mycenean hall complexes), and houses, as well as later Roman-era sanctuary and Odeon monuments.
The new Troy Museum, one of Turkey s best museums, is just down the road from the Troy site.
The ruins of Ani, a powerful Silk Road city, lie abandoned on the plains near Turkey s modern border with Armenia.
Ani s golden age came to an end in the 14th century after Mongol raids, earthquake destruction, and trade route squabbling all played a role in the city s decline.
The beautiful red-brick buildings that are still crumbling among the steppe grass captivate all who visit.
Turkey s best-preserved Ottoman town is a fabulously photogenic place of skinny winding alleys crammed with finely restored wooden mansions that were once the homes of wealthy merchants but are now boutique hotels and restaurants.
15 The Bosphorus:
The Bosphorus Strait, one of the world s great waterways, connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and separates Europe from Asia (and hence, out to the Mediterranean).
Cruising along the Bosphorus, whether on local ferries, a tourist ferry cruise, or a private boat, is one of Istanbul s top tourist attractions. This is the most tranquil sightseeing option in Istanbul.
Onboard, it s all about taking in the scenery from the water, with the shorefront lined with Ottoman palaces, villas, and wooden mansions out to Mehmet the Conqueror s Rumeli Fortress and the Byzantine-era ramparts of Anadolu Fortress (further north along the strait).
Hotels in Turkey:
Cappadocia Caves Hotel
Grand Elite Cave suites
Sheraton Istanbul City Centre
Erten Konak Hotel
Places to eat:
Gulhane Sark Sofrasi
Istanbul Anatolian cuisine
Saltanat fish and kabab house
Sabiha Gokcen Airport
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