THE WONDERS OF TURKEY
Must-See Sights of Antiquity in a Modern Land
From the perfect beaches and tranquil lagoons of the Mediterranean coastline dotted with ancient ruins or the magnificent mountains and virgin forests of the Anatolia peninsula, with their astounding variety of wildlife, flora and fauna to the pulse of cosmopolitan cities, Turkey is a captivating study in contrasts. There are countless things to see and do in Turkey.
South Aegean Coastline
Today, the Turkish Riviera on the Mediterranean coast, from Bodrum, Marmaris to Antalya , Antakya, draws vacationers from Europe, Asia, Africa and America, just as it once drew the Phoenicians, Romans, and Seljuks. The capital of the Turquoise coast, Antalya is a bustling resort and commercial city, with a large new airport and an outstanding archeological museum. Pensions and posh inns fill the historic district of Kaleiçi, while fine restaurants ring the Roman harbor, making Antalya the perfect base for visiting sights of the region. Closer to the Aegean, is the yachting port of Bodrum, arguably Turkey’s most charming coastal town. Set on twin palm-lined bays and dominated by the medieval Castle of St. Peter, Bodrum is famous for its world-class Museum of Underwater Archeology, and for the grand Tomb of King Mausolus, the original mausoleum. As a favorite resort for Turkey’s artists, writers and the yachting set, the cafes are fashionable and the nightlife vibrant.
As the capital of Roman Asia Minor, Ephesus is still richly endowed with marble temples, mosaics and a 25,000-seat Great Theater. The city, whose wealth and patronage supported its splendid architectural program, was dedicated to the goddess Artemis, and her enormous temple was once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. St. Paul spoke here, and later wrote his famous Epistle to the Ephesians. Even the Virgin Mary spent her last days here, and ascended to heaven from a neighboring hilltop. Today, the ruins are less than 40 miles south of Izmir, and a short trip from one of the best harbors in all of Turkey, Kusadasi.
Water is the sole architect of the gleaming white travertine cliffs of Pamukkale, the watery “Cotton Castle” long famous for its curative powers. Warm calcium-laden mineral waters rise from the ground at a temperature of nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit, cascading over cliffs to build up fairy billows of snow-white stone. The cream-colored stalactites formed during this ancient process have created a breathtaking sight unequalled in the world. Roman ruins of the thermal baths in the ancient city of Hierapolis are another highlight of this area located just north of Denizli.
The biblical realm of Cappadocia, south of Ankara, is a wonderland of unusual geographic formations sprinkled with green vineyards, fruit orchards and frescoed churches. Wind and rain have eroded the brittle volcanic rock and formed rock cones, capped pinnacles and fretted ravines in colors that range from warm reds and golds to cool greens and grays. In the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys huge boulders balance precariously atop spindly cones of volcanic tuff. The most famous sight in the region, Göreme National Park, is one of those rare places where the works of humans blend unobtrusively into natural surroundings; labyrinthine underground cities like Derinkuyu and Kaymakli were carved into soft volcanic stone over 1,000 years ago. The otherworldly beauty of the Cappadocian landscape makes it an excellent place for walks and horseback rides.
Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet Camii
Hagia Sophia, Ayasofya
The Tower of Leander, Kiz Kulesi
Istanbul’s City Walls
The Princes’ Islands, Istanbul Adalari
The Grand Bazaar, Kapali Çarsi